To the editor:
I am a bit puzzled by the criticism of the rezoning for the Copart project.
Here is a perfect example of good local government. The board trying to truly do what most conservatives or Republicans want — cut the red tape of bureaucratic delay. Too often we see jobs delayed (or lost) by government delays which serve no purpose.
Waiting until April 29 for the next Township Board meeting for the change of zoning would simply have caused a 42-day delay. The Planning Commission held a public hearing (March 16) and approved the change 6-0. One of the tests they have to satisfy is to verify that this is not a case of spot zoning (which is what a “pet project” would be). If any of four questions are found to be “true,” it may be that there is preferential treatment, or at least inconsistent zoning.
All the spot zoning questions came back “false.” If any of the four were false that would satisfy the requirement and Planning could recommend approval. All four being false is a slam dunk.
The zoning just changed for the property was from a combination Farming & Industrial, which is in itself unusual, to Mixed Used. The former did not allow sales, you needed Commercial for that. The old master plan had Industrial on the north and Commercial on the south of 142nd. To the west, across the freeway, the Planning Commission has rezoned in a couple of cases to the Mixed Use to help develop the Industrial Park.
The Commercial venture in this case helps these cars to be sold over the internet around the world.
The new master plan — which has been delayed by COVID-19 — is likely to have these as recommended changes.
So the board not acting rashly or trying to bypass the public. The public was well represented at the Planning Commission meeting. And while the public had questions, they were either answered or written as administrative requirements that Professional Code Inspectors will enforce.
Requesting a change in zoning to help a Dorr citizen sell his land is something the Planning Commission does all the time. And they do not always approve the request, but they are the ones who investigate, study and determine the facts of the situation. They then make recommendations to the board.
Since this was a non-controversial decision there is no reason for the board to insist that the resident wait to sell his land to an industrial concern instead. And that is what the board would be doing by turning down the rezoning.
And paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, sometimes the best government is just to get out of the peoples’ way.
As for the project itself (which does not call for a board vote), this may lead to more local jobs (13-20), which is always a good thing. Copart still must meet several requirements, including OKs from Allegan County.
— Jim Martin, Dorr
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Martin recently retired as Dorr Township Treasurer and continues in township government as deputy treasurer.