CORRECTION TO TRUSTEE CANDIDATE INTERVIEW
In the July 19th print edition of the Belleville Lake Current a mistake was made in the representation of the responses of Trustee candidates.
A paragraph of a response from candidate Diane Madigan was included at the end of a response from candidate Jeff Jahr making it look like the paragraph was part of Mr. Jahr’s response.
The question and correct, full responses from Mr. Jahr and Ms. Madigan appears below.
The question and Mr. Jahr and Ms. Madigan’s correct answers will be run in the July 26th print edition of the Belleville Lake Current.
What do you believe to be the top three priorities for the Board of Trustees and how would you address each of those priorities if elected?
Jahr: Restore order to board meetings that have become an embarrassment to the township. There is no simple answer to this problem and blame must be shared by all members of the board as well as by many of the frequent participants in the audience. Township governance rests with all seven members of the board. While the Supervisor and staff must provide leadership and direction, it is the obligation of each board member to study the issues and explain his or her position to the residents at the meeting. The board members all come from different backgrounds and bring different perspectives to the issues. The position opinion of each board member should be considered by all in reaching a good decision for our residents. In the past, there has been a lack of respect for the opinions of certain board members. Attempts to express any position different from that of the supervisor are labeled as divisive, politically motivated, and generally ignored. At the same time, other board members fail to engage in any discussion of the issues and simply agree with the supervisor. If re-elected, I will continue to express my position on issues and will consider the opinions of the other members. I believe that I am flexible and will respect the positions of the other board members in deciding my vote. I will certainly avoid personal attacks, and, despite a difference of opinion, recognize that we are all trying to do what is best for the township. Finally, it should be recognized that the purpose of the board meeting is to conduct the business of the Township. While audience members must be allowed to address the board, their comments should be limited to matters within the control of the board and not be allowed to degenerate into lengthy debates or personal attacks.
The board must encourage economic development that will promote jobs and increase our tax base. It is particularly important that development take place in the LDFA District to increase tax revenues needed to pay the Visteon bond issue. The board must be willing to utilize all of the economic development tools that are available, including the use of tax abatements where appropriate. Although it may be politically expedient to oppose any tax abatement, it must be recognized that this incentive was established by the State to foster economic development and places communities in competition with each other. We cannot afford to simply ignore this economic development tool. More importantly, Van Buren Township has many advantages for economic development that should be emphasized. These include proximity to markets, our location between two major airports, access to two freeways and major roads, rail access, and a trained workforce. These advantages should be advertised and promoted in the business community. Of course, all development must be carefully controlled and enhance the quality of life in the Township and avoid negative impacts. If re-elected, I will support adding additional staff to the Planning and Development Department. By increasing out tax base through economic development all of our residents will benefit and we will be able to provide a higher level of services.
The board must address ordinance revisions that have largely been on hold for the last four years. A few of these matters include the revised tree ordinance, changes in the planned residential development ordinance that contributed to the housing problems we face today, a lake ordinance, and changes to the O-T District that permitted the construction of the controversial co-generation facility on the Visteon property. It is simply short sighted to continue to ignore these problems. If re-elected, I will continue to push for the immediate consideration of ordinance changes so that we will be prepared for future development. At the same time, I will oppose enacting unneeded ordinances that we simply do not have the resources to enforce.
Madigan: This is an interesting question. When I look at present and future funding for essential Public Safety services, Van Buren Schools, Senior Center, Library, and Recreation, our ability to provide services in these areas is based on tax revenue. I believe a series of decisions over the last few years at Visteon Village/Grace Lake Property have put our services and programs in jeopardy for the next twenty years. Attending LDFA meetings for the last 18 months including one last week, it appears that we will need to spend over 55 million in bond payments for this piece of property that we do not and will not own. I believe it is the townships responsibility to recognize this debt and any tax abatement decisions for GE, which is a renter on the Grace Lake property, should be highly scrutinized. Any financially healthy company should be a good neighbor in the community paying their share for services and schools in the township. Because we have the Visteon bond payments looming until the year 2032 I believe tax abatements should be limited to one or two year incentives for new manufacturing. Commercial businesses should be encouraged as they attract visitors and provide amenities for the residents.
A final priority again has to do with the Visteon Village/Grace Lake Property. I believe the residents from that neighborhood worked in good faith to produce a Zoning Master Plan for the area as Office Technology (OT). Allowing a landfill gas to energy manufacturing plant will deter further OT developments now and in the future and does not fit in that area. The resident’s wishes need to have a greater influence on any decision that is made. Their vision of a campus like setting with zero impact on noise, odors, emissions, and aesthetics should be honored.