Ask the average person what could be done to enhance their community and most will mention some kind of retail business or professional service they’d like to see materialize.
Once there’s a little bit of activity in a vacant building, everyone’s curious as to who might be trying their hand at being an entrepreneur.
Although our business communities are small, they are resilient and many citizens do their part to shop and support local enterprises.
While people are generally welcoming of new companies, they do have strong opinions about where they should or should not be located. That was evidenced at a recent public hearing in Berlin Twp. in regards to a proposed dollar store and earlier this year when plans were being floated for an RV park in Imlay Township.
Both developments were in the early stages when residents spoke out strongly against them. For the dollar store, a rezoning request was submitted to the planning commission and in the case of the RV park, a special land use permit was being sought. Those who spoke in opposition to the developments listed reasons why they felt the locations were not appropriate.
Public comment is just one of several factors that government bodies weigh in making zoning and planning decisions, but it can also provide board members with an overall picture of what citizens envision for the place they call home. These recent instances point to the fact that in more rural settings like ours, some residents aren’t interested in sacrificing country living for convenience—in the opinion of some Berlin residents—nor do they welcome an influx of seasonal guests and the traffic that comes with it—as envisioned by some Imlay Township citizens.
As is probably obvious, government officials must walk a tightrope and find that right balance between progress and preservation. We hope that leaders will take every opportunity—whether it be at a public hearing or elsewhere—to heed what their citizens envision and do what they can to make sound plans for the future.