A potential ballot question for Dexter Township land preservation

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Dexter Township voters, how much does land preservation mean to you?

The prospect of a millage question for the November vote took a step forward at the Jan. 18 township board meeting. The Dexter Township Board approved the idea of putting together a proposal for a land preservation millage and submitting it to the elections clerk to be placed on the ballot.

The proposal would ask voters to approve a millage at the rate of .5 mills for 10 years, which would result in about $220,000 per year for purchase of development rights.

This proposal was a recommendation made by the township’s Open Space and Land Preservation Committee to the township board. 

Township board members, trustee Laura Sanders, and clerk Michelle Stamboulellis are on the OSLP committee.

They and the OSLP created a narrative about the request and gave it to the board, so it would be fully informed about what is being asked.

The goal of the millage would be to generate money in order to purchase the development rights to preserve farm land and natural area lands. The expectation is that this money could be used with matching funds, at a 2 to 1 ratio, from various conservation entities on the federal, state, county and private levels.

Sanders said a half mill in the township should generate $220,000 a year, which at a 2 to 1 ratio could produce $660,000. She said at $7,000 per acre for development rights, the township could preserve about 94 acres a year. Over 10 years, this could total up to 1,000 acres.

According to the OSLP, there are 5,000 acres of preservable land in the township. However, Sanders said it’s a good possibility that not every land owner will be interested in preservation.

Sanders said The request was made now because there are many steps in putting forth a millage initiative on the ballot, .

Ballot wording for the November general election must be certified to the county clerk by Aug. 16. Sanders said their goal is to have it submitted in June.

Another part of the process will see the township hosting an educational event in March for local farmers and landowners and an informational celebration of land preservation for the community in the summer.

Before the board’s vote, Stamboulellis said if the township wants to preserve land it will need help from a millage. The OSLP cited the success of neighboring townships, such Scio and Webster, in using matching funds to preserve farms and open space.

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