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Petition puts zoning rule on Pittsford Twp. ballot

PITTSFORD, Mich. - Faye McOscar doesn't want to see her rights as a property owner restricted because of zoning.

But she will live by the new rules if residents in her rural community approve it at the polls.

Pittsford Township voters will decide April 24 whether to support an ordinance establishing zoning classifications, a move that could help regulate development. The township has no zoning rules.

The board of trustees adopted the proposed zoning ordinance on Jan. 16. Ms. McOscar, 56, led the petition effort that put the issue on the ballot.

“My biggest thing has always been where does the government get off telling us what we can do with our land?” she asked. “We want to be able to say what we can and cannot do with our land. We want to control our own destiny.”

The ordinance will impose land-use restrictions on the more than 1,700 residents living in the township, southwest of Hillsdale.

Township officials said the ordinance would protect residential areas from industries and large farms. But Ms. McOscar said she found more people oppose the ordinance than favor of it.

Ms. McOscar collected about 80 valid signatures on a petition, nearly double the signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot.

“We're saying we want the right to say whether or not we need zoning because most of us don't think we need it,” she said.

Despite some resistance, more communities are adopting zoning. In Hillsdale County, cities and nearly half of the townships have ordinances. But of the county's six villages, only Allen and Jonesville have instituted zoning regulations.

Although their neighbors are approving zoning ordinances, Pittsford Township residents are not alone in opposing them.

Residents in neighboring Jefferson Township recalled their entire board of trustees in June, 1998, after the officials imposed a zoning ordinance.

The five-member replacement board repealed the ordinance in December, 1998. The 88-page zoning ordinance outlined restrictions for commercial, industrial, and residential areas in Jefferson Township, about six miles southwest of Hillsdale.

The Pittsford Township Planning Commission spent three years discussing zoning in public meetings, township Supervisor Gene Goering said. In addition, the group hosted several public hearings before passing it on to the township board.

Now, he hopes that residents know enough about the zoning ordinance to approve it.

“The main reason for the zoning ordinance is to protect, rather than control, the land use in the township,” he said. “We're concerned about the adverse affect on property values, on air and soil quality, and on private property rights.

“And at the present time there is no protection for those things,” he said.

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