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Friday, October 15, 2010

Southeast Michigan Sustainable Communities Proposal Wins Grant Funding

The following comments were published by Arnold Weinfeld from the Michigan Municipal League:

"The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced the first ever recipients for the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants.  In Michigan, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) was awarded $2.85 million. Nearly $100 million in grants was awarded nationwide to 45 regional areas.

The funds will be used to develop and implement multi-jurisdictional planning efforts that incorporate housing, land use, economic development, transportation and infrastructure. As noted by HUD Secretary Donovan, the Sustainable Communities Grant program is intended to build economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools and transportation. This initial round of funding was split evenly between regions with populations less than 500,000 and rural places (fewer than 200,000 people). HUD is reserving $2 million to help all of these areas build the needed capacity to execute their plans.

The grants are part of the Obama Administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which brings HUD, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency together to ensure that the agencies’ policies, programs, and funding consider affordable housing, transportation, and environmental protection together. The program is indicative of a new federal funding philosophy and one that matches the League's efforts with our "Center for 21st Century Communities"."

These sustainable communities grants are offered via the Obama Administration; however, building sustainable communities is not become a partisan political issue.  I hope everyone can agree that making our communities "more sustainable" is a good thing. 
But, what is "more sustainable?"  I guess the "devil is in the details."  Reasonable people may disagree about what is sustainable and what is not.  For example, I happen to think that the Wolverine Clean Energy Venture is a safe and sustainable project.  I know people who do not agree with me.  It has become an emotional issue for some people.
If Michigan is to move forward economically and sustainably, then we will have to find common ground in our understanding of what is and what is not "sustainable."  We need more dialogue and less "heated rhetoric."  For the good of the nation, Michigan, Presque Isle County, and Rogers City, I hope we can find ways to discuss these matters, build consensus, and establish common ground.

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