Wayne Township has faced numerous questions over the past few years that have forced us to think hard about our future. Questions that include if we should allow higher-density residential development or allow pockets of limited-use commercial activity in residential zones.
Think about it: why did you choose to make Wayne Township your home?
Wayne Township maintains a rural charm that attracted many to the area as they sought to escape urban sprawl, high taxes, and poor planning.
Growth should be controlled and guided so as not to overwhelm our community's infrastructure or sacrifice our natural resources. I have urged our board to update our Future Land Use Map to better reflect the rural-agricultural nature of our community. Ideally, I would like to see most of the unincorporated township zoned for 5 acre minimum lot sizes with 2 acre minimums surrounding the more densely-populated villages.
There's good reason for this. For one, more residential growth might mean more revenue, but it also means a greater demand of services -- almost always costing more than the revenue it provides. See this study on the cost of community services for more detail.
Secondly, our township wants to provide the very best fire protection and road maintenance possible for our residents. If we have higher density neighborhoods to service in opposite corners of the township, we are setting our first responders, road crews, and residents up for slower response times and poorer service.
So do we need to push for more houses and residential developments in Wayne Township? Or should we embrace that which makes us special, and preserve our rural-agricultural heritage?
In 2015, when my opponent was still a board member, he voted to fast-track the Village Transition Planned Unit Development (VT-PUD) overlay into law, allowing for applicants with access to sewer to apply for a higher density than our zoning code normally allows. [Trustee Meeting Minutes of Sept. 1, 2015]
The controversial VT-PUD overlay was finally tested in 2018, when both of my colleagues voted "Yes" and I voted "No" on the proposed housing development on Lytle Road. This application was later subject to referendum by our residents and was overturned with nearly 87% of voters saying "No". When this development was revised and proposed again in 2019, the board sided with their constituents and unanimously rejected the plan.
Let's be clear: Does this mean I am against growth? Does this mean I am against economic development? Absolutely not!
But what does responsible growth and economic development look like?
Responsible growth means protecting private property owner rights. It also means creating fair zoning rules that prevent our infrastructure from being overwhelmed or affecting the quality of life of our neighbors.
Our area's rich history, collection of eclectic vendors, and wealth of natural resources provides the ideal environment for tourism. We should continue to work and plan for our area to become a destination, and encourage industries that do not strain our infrastructure or strip our community of its unique character. A healthy vision of the future includes a balance of residential, commercial, agricultural and light industrial. I do not see increasing residential density in the township as a responsible part of that vision.
We must cultivate the right environment to encourage new businesses and create new education opportunities for our residents. Expanding rural broadband must be central to this strategy so that our citizens can participate in the digital economy no matter where they are. There are billions of dollars in grants coming available over the next few years for this purpose, and the township needs to be ready.
Planning is an important job. When you choose who to serve the next four years as your trustee, make sure that their values align with your own. As a political outsider, it's no doubt that my bold leadership on some issues has ruffled feathers... but I am just getting started for Wayne Township.
Thank you for reading,