Tonight was a sad and disappointing night for me.
This past January as a new Commissioner I inherited the awful agreement negotiated by the 2010 Township Board of Commissioners. This now dictates and binds the township to the rezoning and criteria allowing a mammoth warehouse development. The 2010 rezoning leading to warehouses obliterated two decades of agriculture protection that defined the western portion of the township. This greatly contributed to what made us such a great place to live and why so many moved here. It represented years of smart growth and planning successes of the past. The agreement erased that.
For 3 years I and others fought this rezoning as residents in every way we could. We walked petitions, donated money, distributed flyers, helped plan fundraisers, attended meetings. But in the end the efforts of these dedicated residents including over 1000 who signed a petition were frustratingly moot.
Tonight, because the prior boards series of decisions from 2010-2013 (including opportunities to correct mistakes) the township is legally bound to adhere to what amounts to as a contract. Because of this I was in my opinion ethically bound to review the submitted plans by the terms of those agreements. Agreements which are now the law. I do not believe in casting votes to grandstand. And I think to have done so with no real way to overturn the MOU would have been just that. It wouldn’t have affected the outcome.
If there were anyway to overturn the rezoning or any possibility of success I would have pursued it. Legally there was no course.
Those who followed this closely understand the impacts coming. Many even still today who are just learning are shocked. This is now reality. I sincerely believe we’re still a great place to live. The affects of a warehouse development over a mile in size on previously protected farmland in the worse possible location can’t be overstated enough. But this is my hometown. It’s where I’m getting married in a month. Where she and I will raise kids. I guess that’s why I cared so much about this. But now time to move forward. We have got to figure out how. Can’t rest til we do.
The tip of the iceberg, the basic problems are this:
- We now have a large amount of warehouses where they don’t make sense never made sense and with no clear path to the turnpike.
- We have to provide services to those warehouses. We have significantly increased our need for costly local police force which will no doubt lead to tax increases. Fire safety obligations increase. For now we have a volunteer force. But each new development strains that.
- We have tractor trailers through no fault of there own but rather the poor decisions of the past bleeding onto our local roads. This causes safety and quality of life concerns.
- We have lost farmland that was preserved for decades.
- People I know purchased homes, the biggest investment of there lives with an understanding that certain zoning was permanent. Their neighborhood will now forever change in the blink of an eye.
These are some of the problems that need proactive solutions. It is what it is. Tonight I’ll let myself be bummed. But tomorrow eyes forward roll up the sleeves.