will the program do?
The Ann Arbor Parks and Greenbelt program that would be established
by Proposal B would preserve as much as 7,000 acres of the best open
space in and around Ann Arbor. The program would generate $35 million
- plus $30 to $50 million in matching funds from townships and other
sources - to buy both parkland within the city and conservation
easements on private lands outside the city borders.
How much will this cost Ann Arbor residents?
Not one extra penny. Currently, Ann Arbor property owners pay a 0.5-mill
parkland acquisition levy which costs the average household approximately
90 cents per week. This tax would remain at the exact same level, extended
for 30 years, with its purpose expanded to authorize the preservation
of land in a greenbelt around the City.
Why is this program needed?
It's needed for our quality of life, for the environment, and for the
• Quality of Life: One of the Ann Arbor area's
best features is its rare mix of dynamic urban areas, working farms,
and beautiful natural places. As the rapid pace of development changes
the face of our county, the Parks and Greenbelt program will enable
us to protect the character of the home we love for future generations.
It's now or never.
• Environment: Building is booming in Washtenaw
County. Although new residential and commercial developments provide
many benefits, development is also the major cause of pollution in the
Huron River and other watersheds. The Parks and Greenbelt program will
help balance the impact of future developments with our need for clean
air and water.
• The Local Economy: Several national studies
have demonstrated the economic benefits of preserving open space. In
one recent survey, small business owners ranked open space as the most
important factor in their choice of where to locate their businesses
because this is critical to winning the fierce competition for talented
employees. The Ann Arbor area's open spaces help attract the high-tech
and life sciences businesses that are essential to our economic vitality
and employment base.
How will the funds be divided between
city parks and land preservation outside the city?
Approximately one-third of the funds would be spent inside the city,
and two-thirds outside the city limits.
What criteria will be used to select open space properties?
Open space properties must be located within the defined greenbelt area,
and voluntarily nominated for acquisition by the property owner(s).
The City will develop a scoring system to prioritize properties, The
factors which will be considered as part of the recommendation process
include quality of agricultural land; proximity to City limits; characteristics
of the property (species diversity, age of trees, presence of streams
or wetlands etc.) size, proximity to other protected land; current or
projected future use of adjacent property.
the proposal take away any property rights or force anyone to sell?
though the developers who oppose Proposal B are working hard to make
folks think otherwise. Here are the facts: Proposal B would give property
owners more rights by giving them more choices. No one -- NO ONE --
would be forced to sell their land or offer a conservation
How is this program related to the Washtenaw County natural areas program?
They are designed to preserve different types of open space. The natural
areas program does not preserve farmland, which constitutes most of
the open space in the greenbelt area.
Why should the City spend money to save land outside the city limits?
Unplanned development outside the City seriously undermines our quality
of life. It also hurts in the pocketbook, since City residents have
to pay for some of the schools, roads, and services built for new township
residents. By investing in open space preservation around the City,
Ann Arbor will save money and land in the long run.
Why should Ann Arbor pay for land preservation
in the townships if those townships won't pay for it themselves?
shouldn't, and we won't. Greenbelt funds would be prioritized for properties
that offered a significant amount of matching funds. In fact, the City
would pay only about one-third of the cost of preserving land in the
Greenbelt, with the rest of the money coming from township, state, federal,
and private sources. The program allows Ann Arbor to partner with its
surrounding municipalities for land preservation.
Thirty years seems like a long-time for
a millage. Is it an appropriate length?
Yes. When open space is lost, it's lost forever. By extending the existing
millage to 30 years, the City can sell bonds to buy land and conservation
easements in the next five to ten years, when the land is still
available. These bonds will be paid off by the millage revenue over
30 years, so that people who live here in decades to come will be helping
to share the cost of preserving land.
Can farming really be preserved in Washtenaw
Absolutely. Washtenaw County still has a vibrant agricultural economy,
generating over $50 million in annual revenues. Ann Arbor residents
can see this in person by visiting the Farmers' Market any Wednesday
Will this undermine Ann Arbor's efforts
to create more affordable housing?
No. One of the country's most successful open space preservation programs
- in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania - has used the same methods that
are being proposed for the Ann Arbor area, and housing is among the
least expensive in Pennsylvania. Anyway, building patterns over the
past twenty years in Washtenaw County demonstrate that very little affordable
housing is likely to be built in the greenbelt area, even without this
proposal in place.
In 1998, a similar proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by Washtenaw
County voters. What makes Proposal B any better?
The 1998 proposal was a good plan that was supported by Ann Arbor voters,
but unfortunately not by the rest of the county. Proposal B will also
have a greater impact on the quality of life in Ann Arbor than the 1998
proposal, since the funds will be used in a more targeted area close
to the City. Further, the 1998 plan raised taxes, while the Parks and
Greenbelt Proposal does not.
Doesn't Ann Arbor have enough parkland?
No. We're a thriving and growing city. A 2002 University of Michigan
survey found that 75% of residents are deeply concerned about the loss
of natural areas and open space. Ann Arbor's last Parkland Acquisition
proposal passed with 64% of the vote. There are dozens of excellent
parcels that would make wonderful parks for recreation and the enjoyment
The City of Ann Arbor has budget problems
and City officials have mismanaged the city's finances for years. Why
should they be entrusted with more tax money?
to a reorganization begun 18 months ago, Ann Arbor's financial situation
is stronger than virtually all other Michigan cities. Moreover, this
plan raises money for a vitally important program without raising tax
bills for Ann Arbor residents and businesses.
Will this program just push sprawl further
out from Ann Arbor?
Development has already pushed its way beyond the proposed greenbelt
area, but Ann Arbor cannot take responsibility for everyone's land use
problems. If other communities are affected by sprawl development, then
it's up to them to contribute to the solutions. Ann Arbor's program
may encourage other preservation programs, and it invites collaboration
with other communities.
Will township land be annexed by the City
of Ann Arbor through this program?
No. Land and easements can only be purchased
from willing sellers. Most of the program's land in the greenbelt area
will be preserved through conservation easements, will stay in private
ownership, and will stay on township tax rolls.
Who will select the properties to be preserved?
The final decisions on all of the program's land preservation transactions
will be made by the Ann Arbor City Council. For city park purchases,
the City Council will receive recommendations from its Parks Advisory
Commission, as is its current practice. For greenbelt purchases, the
Council will be advised by a new Greenbelt Advisory Commission.
Who will serve on the Greenbelt Advisory
The members of the Commission shall include individuals with the following
expertise or affiliation: environmental/conservation organization representative
(2 members), agricultural land owner/agricultural business operator
(1 member), real estate development professional (1 member), plant or
animal biologist (1 member), public-at-large (3 members), Ann Arbor
City Council member. A minimum of six members shall be residents of
the City of Ann Arbor.
for by Friends of Ann Arbor Open Space, 1308 E.Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor,
Hosted by Huron Valley Community