This past Tuesday, November 1st the Noon Rotary Club of Traverse City moderated a discussion on Proposal 3 to help inform members on the proposal up for vote in Traverse City on Tuesday, November 8th. Below is a summary of the discussion courtesy of the Noon Rotary Club of Traverse City.
Jeff Hickman moderated an informative discussion on Proposal 3 between John DiGiacomo and Brenda Quick. John is a partner with Revision Legal, an intellectual property firm. Brenda is a Professor of Law Emeritus at Michigan State University College of Law.
Proposal 3 states:
Proposed amendment to add a requirement to Section 28 of the City Charter of Traverse City that approval by a majority of the electors at a regular or special election must occur prior to approval by the City or City Commission of the construction of a building with a height above 60 feet.
Shall the Charter of the City of Traverse City be amended to add the following paragraph to Section 28: "It is hereby declared that buildings over 60 feet in height are generally inconsistent with the residential and historical character of Traverse City. Therefore, any proposal for construction of a building with a height above 60 feet, shall not be approved by the City or City Commission, until after the proposal is submitted to and approved by a majority of the City electors at a regular election, or at a special election?"
John is opposed to Proposal 3 and Brenda Quick is in support of Proposal 3.
- Each was allowed a 7-minute introduction followed by a 2-minute response to questions previously gathered from Rotarians.
John focused on the small town character that Traverse City has. He mentioned that a lot of people contribute to small town character, saying its “good people doing good”. What is under threat is our zoning process. He believes this process is wrong. He mentioned the review process conducted by the city sounds thorough. He stated that Save Our Downtown does not address any of the elements that Judge Roberts stated in his ruling. He stated that this process works and there is no reason to change the process.
Brenda stated that this is legal. The Pine Street project did start this, but it is about buildings that are over 60 feet tall. She went on to say that people come to Traverse City because they have certain expectations and tourism brings in over $1.1 billion a year. The success of our area is about maintaining Traverse City as a tourism destination. The decision to do something is crucial because “building a tall building is irreversible.”
- Question posed to each presenter: Why should or shouldn't voters be allowed to decide the future of TC and the character of the city with a direct vote?
Brenda stated that the big issues should to be voted on by the voters, not by 7 commissioners. A recall is too slow and the damage will already be done. Give people the right to vote.
John stated there is no support for this issue and it is unlawful. “Ask a lawyer.” There is the possibility that voting can be made based on discrimination. Only 27% of the population came out to vote in the last election and elections are costly.
- Question posed to each presenter: Why are the systems in place such as elected officials, zoning ordinances, paid staff and various boards to deal with matters such as these not satisfactory as they are in most areas?
John stated that they are good enough, these people care and give a lot of time to do good things.
Brenda stated it went to court and it was decided that the decision made by the commissioners was wrong. Her position is that she is not satisfied that things have been done right.
Brenda just wants a right to vote. We want small town character to still be here and just want a voice.
John asked “Are you going to do something illegal and unlawful to stop one development from happening?”