A call for citizen involvement

Photo by Joyce Ervin Photographed drafting a letter to their congressmen are members of the City of Milan Historic Commission, Joyce Ervin, Martha Churchill and Linda Gilson.

Photo by Joyce Ervin
Photographed drafting a letter to their congressmen are members of the City of Milan Historic Commission, Joyce Ervin, Martha Churchill and Linda Gilson.

By Joyce Ervin

Milan Historic Commission members penned a letter to legislators opposing the proposed House Bill 5232 and Senate Bill 720 that would have a detrimental impact on historic districts locally and across the state.
The commission is drawing attention to the proposed amendments hoping Milanites will join them in voicing their opinions to their lawmakers, Representative. Chris Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids) and Senator Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford), who authored the bill.
Historic preservation is not always popular, but it’s not just worrying if your neighbor will paint his house purple with pink polka-dots.  It goes further than that.  Milan’s historic 1880s Fire Barn could be eliminated from that road triangle, where it stands majestically telling of Milan’s past with the passage of this bill.
Also threatened could be the Community House on Neckel Court that is part of the Henry Ford Village Industries.
While many of our citizens work diligently to support the Michigan Main Street program and are pleased to have East Main Street renovated, this bill could make it impossible for local government to stop a threat of development to these community landmarks and buildings.
The bill would by-pass the current process for dissolving historic districts allowing local legislators to eliminate local historic districts without guidelines, justification or community input.
Journalist and radio host of WAAM in Ann Arbor, Jack Lessenberry, quoted Nancy Finegood, head of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, on a recent broadcast, stating the passage of those bills would, “reduce local government control and negatively and significantly impact local historic districts all over the state, “by creating “extremely high burdens to create and keep local districts, “while making it very easy to eliminate them.”
Can you picture Ypsilanti with its Depot Town turned into high-rise apartments?  How about Saline with its historic old homes turned into a parking lot rather than an area where school children take walking tours each year to learn the history of their city?
They are asking for a call to action, as this bill won’t just affect our city but the area and state as a whole.
For more information on the bills and help with correspondence, visit Michigan Historic Preservation Network’s website at: www.mhpn.org.
 You can reach the congressmen at:  Rep. Afendoulis: (517) 373-0218 or email ChrisAfendoulis [at] house [dot] mi [dot] gov and Sen. MacGregor at (517) 373-0797 or email SenPMacGregor [at] senate [dot] michigan [dot] gov.  Senator Lee Chatfield, chair of the House Local Government Committee at (517)373-2629.

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