The 5-2 vote by the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, Aug. 16 regarding a Special Use Permit (SUP) on appeal before the commissioners is an unfortunate reminder of how broken the planning and zoning function remains in Shiawassee County. After more than eight months of scrutiny and being rejected through four levels of governmental review, a majority of commissioners hid behind the applicant’s legal threat and voted to approve the SUP in Woodhull Township.
The callous vote is short sighted, clearly incompatible with Woodhull Township’s current land-use plan, and it exposes the county to additional risks as future significant land-use changes are proposed. Making matters worse is that the SUP terms were negotiated behind closed doors without any local representation, a snub to all townships. The contentiousness of the issue brings into focus a fundamental challenge for government officials: the need to balance and ensure peace and harmony for all residents, while ensuring personal property rights are protected.
Governments are supposed to rely on land-use plans to manage the development of land within their jurisdictions in an ethical manner to ensure the health and wellbeing of urban and rural communities. Thoughtful and effective land-use planning serves all residents, designed to manage conflicts and ease tension to bring about informed decision-making on the landscape. Execution is key. The message to townships is that current land-use plans do not matter, so don’t waste your time. The status quo in Corunna continues to undermine Shiawassee County from being the best it can be.
Mark Coscarelli, County Commissioner, District 7