By Lynne Beauchamp, firstname.lastname@example.org
Land preservation has been the topic of discussion during the last several Dexter Township Board of Trustees meetings.
Recently, a group of citizens paid for and mailed post cards to Dexter Township residents asking to show support in establishing a millage to fund land preservation and the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR). The hope was the millage proposal would be on the November 2018 ballot.
Dexter Township currently has an ordinance in place for land preservation that was approved in 2005. The ordinance for land preservation allows for residents to voluntary submit funds for preserving land, but it is not mandated.
Over the past few months, a group of Dexter residents have spoken out and would like to see land preservation/PDR on the November ballot and allow voters to choose whether it should be funded by Dexter Township residents in the form of a millage. The citizens for the millage said they would like to see land preserved, avoiding overdevelopment and see it funded and encouraged. Citizens against funding a PDR millage have voiced concerns over taxation and government “telling them what to do with their land.”
In past interviews with land owners in support of a PDR millage , one land owner stated he was interested in preserving his land and the money from the millage would pay off his mortgage.
During the Dexter Township Board of Trustees meeting on July 17, under agenda item “Unfinished Business”, Ordinance Number 37 (PDR) Revisions and Citizen Request for Ballot Proposal to Fund Purchase of Development were the topics that consumed most of the meeting that lasted 4 1/2 hours.
While citizens and board members alike voiced concerns either for or against the PDR issue, the vote was 6-1 (Debra Ceo casting nay vote) in favor of considering to place the question to the voters at a regular or special election following the adoption of the revisions to Ordinance #37.
So what does that mean to the voters in Dexter Township?
Dexter Township Supervisor, Harley Rider, explained in a later interview the township’s Ordinance #37 (PDR) is in need of revisions. Dexter Township Treasurer, Libby Brushaber concurred and has voiced during past meetings that she felt the ordinance needed to be updated prior to any ballot proposal.
“It would really be disingenuous of us, as an elected body, to tell the public we are going to put this on a ballot for you to give us money for a program, but we really don’t know exactly what that program is going to turn out to be until we get the amendments made to the ordinance,” said Rider.
Rider said the current ordinance is about mostly preserving farmland and in need of revisions for other types of land.
He added that while not opposed to preserving land, there are many misconceptions of those favoring a ballot proposal. He said some residents would have financial gain if the ballot proposal was approved. Rider also added that there has been very little growth in Dexter Township in the last 50 years. He also added that much of the land in the township has already been forever preserved without taxpayers having to pay anything in doing so.
Rider concluded that until the ordinance is revised, a PDR millage will not be on a ballot. He said this takes time, therefore, placing it on this November’s ballot is highly unlikely.
Rider said residents are always welcome to contribute, voluntarily, to a fund set aside for land preservation. The account was set up after the 2005 PDR ordinance was established and has approximately $2,400 voluntarily given by residents toward land preservation.