2005-08-27 / Top News

Residents To Voice Opinions on Island’s Future Planning

By Karen Gould

Residents will be given an opportunity to take the microphone and voice their opinion Monday, August 29, on what they would like Mackinac to be like in the future. The public session begins at 6 p.m. at Community Hall. Each resident will be limited to two or three minutes, said Chairman Mike Hart, depending on the number of people attending. A sign-up sheet will determine the order of the speakers.

The purpose of the hearing is to hear opinions, and no comments or dialog between the speakers and other residents or committee members will be allowed.

“The only part we play is open ears,” said Chairman Mike Hart during a Master Plan Committee meeting on Tuesday, August 23.

Comments will be recorded for reference and a visual reference of ideas expressed will be kept on a board for all to see.

The committee continues to seek additional public comment on the Island’s future and is using three formats to capture residents’ opinions, including a printed survey, a public workshop August 4, and the public comment session Monday.

As of Tuesday, August 23, only 25 surveys had been received out of more than 200 that were made available to Islanders. Distributed by the Master Planning Committee, the survey asks residents to voice their opinions on such matters as the worst thing that could happen to land use and what is the best land use. To get more responses, the committee has extended the deadline and made more surveys available from Kelly Bean’s office at the Community Hall.

So far, of the responses received, comments regarding what was the worst thing for land use development seem similar. “No more condos. It’s on virtually every one,” noted Lorna Straus, a committee member.

Armed with citizen input, the planners will explore ways to protect existing assets on the Island and develop areas that residents would like to see. The committee is also looking at other areas of the country, like Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Catalina Island.

“We had a house guest who summers on Martha’s Vineyard and was here for a week and he told us that 1.5 percent of the sale of every property goes into a fund to buy land to turn it into open areas,” said Mrs. Straus. She said he did not know if the fee was paid by the buyer or seller, and Mayor Margaret Doud has asked for additional information.

The committee also discussed giving tax breaks to residents meeting varying land uses, such as adding a barn or preserving a building, but members thought managing such a program and working through the legalities might be difficult.

“We ought to considering including in the Master Plan language that opens the door to flexible tasks, for year-around residents, for preservation, for open space, whatever,” said Chairman Mike Hart. “We cannot mandate how it is going to be done. All we can do is set the framework in which anything can be done.”

Survey comments on what the best thing that could happen to Island land ranged from no more development to preservation of old buildings, the availability of a common barn, more affordable housing for year-around residents, and a downtown waterfront boardwalk.

Committee members agreed they should continue to meet after the process continues. Kay Hoppenrath suggested the committee continue to work through the winter months and continue to look for answers to Island questions.

Mary Dufina agreed the last time the Master Plan concluded there were additional items that needed to be worked on.

The committee’s next meeting is Wednesday, September 7 at 5 p.m. at City Hall.

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