cities http://michiganradio.org en Fiscal health of local goverments gradually improving, but many still in bad straits http://michiganradio.org/post/fiscal-health-local-goverments-gradually-improving-many-still-bad-straits <p>Michigan&#39;s cities, towns, and villages are seeing an overall improvement in their ability to meet their financial needs, but hundreds continue to struggle. That&#39;s according to an annual&nbsp;<a href="http://closup.umich.edu/files/mpps-fiscal-health-2013.pdf">report</a>&nbsp;by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan&#39;s Ford School of Public Policy.</p><p>The report finds that smaller&nbsp;municipalities are having a tougher time than those with populations of more than 30,000. And municipalities in central&nbsp;Michigan and the southern lower Peninsula have been particularly hard hit.<img alt="&lt;--break-&gt;" border="0" height="1" src="file:///C:\Users\MBrush\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\clip_image001.gif" width="1" /></p><p> Tue, 01 Oct 2013 19:54:25 +0000 Michigan Radio Newsroom 14670 at http://michiganradio.org Fiscal health of local goverments gradually improving, but many still in bad straits Wayne State University to track coyotes in southeast Michigan http://michiganradio.org/post/wayne-state-university-track-coyotes-southeast-michigan <p>A new study from researchers at <a href="http://wayne.edu/">Wayne State University</a> will track coyotes in southeast Michigan. The study is meant to fill a gap on information about coyotes that live in highly populated areas.</p><p><a href="http://www.clas.wayne.edu/unit-inner.asp?WebPageID=2735">Bill Dodge</a> is the graduate student in charge of the project. He says reports of coyotes attacking pets are rare:</p> Mon, 23 May 2011 18:46:10 +0000 Michigan Radio Newsroom 2612 at http://michiganradio.org Wayne State University to track coyotes in southeast Michigan Zoning out: Cities rewrite codes to transform their look http://michiganradio.org/post/zoning-out-cities-rewrite-codes-transform-their-look <p>Zoning is the DNA of a community: it controls how you live, shop, and work.</p><p>After nearly a century of many cities separating those uses, now, they&rsquo;re going back to the future: trying to recreate an old way of life.</p><p>Streetsboro, Ohio is one such place.</p><p>http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/michigan/local-michigan-960059.mp3</p><p>Drive down its main commercial district and it has nearly every chain store you can imagine: A Walmart and a Target, a Lowes and a Home Depot.</p><p>Some call it sprawl. Streetsboro calls it economic development.</p><p>This six-lane strip of big box shopping centers has served this city well since its explosive growth started in the 1960s. It just doesn&rsquo;t look like a traditional town.</p><p>The town center is an intersection with a grassy knoll on one side. But Jeff Pritchard is in charge of planning there now and he&rsquo;s aiming for a future Streetsboro that would look very different.</p><p>These big box stores could eventually be replaced by attractive housing and shops. The way towns and cities used to be.</p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;A place where they can walk to a corner store, maybe live above a store, says Anthony Flint of the <a href="http://www.lincolninst.edu/">Lincoln Institute of Land Policy</a>. &ldquo;And, those kinds of things, that&rsquo;s illegal in America today in so many of our communities.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Illegal because of zoning. &nbsp;In many cities and towns, zoning codes don&rsquo;t allow living and working in the same place. And, when zoning spread across the country in the 1920s and 30s, that was considered a good thing.</p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;&ldquo; You didn&rsquo;t want to have a slaughter house next to a residential apartment,&rdquo; Flint says.</p></blockquote><p>But those issues aren&rsquo;t as big a deal anymore.</p><p>As the Great Lakes region reinvents itself, there&rsquo;s a growing feeling among planners and thinkers that much of the public wants to spend less time in their cars. Mon, 28 Mar 2011 21:43:06 +0000 Dan Bobkoff 1821 at http://michiganradio.org Zoning out: Cities rewrite codes to transform their look Bing to discuss progress on Detroit's downtown http://michiganradio.org/post/bing-discuss-progress-detroits-downtown <p>The <a href="http://www.downtowndetroit.org/ddp/home.htm">Downtown Detroit Partnership</a> is holding its annual meeting and luncheon today from noon to 1:30 p.m..</p><p>Mayor Dave Bing and others are expected to highlight progress made in developing Detroit&#39;s downtown.</p><p>From the <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2011/03/mayor_to_discuss_improvements_1.html">Associated Press</a>:</p> Tue, 22 Mar 2011 12:16:27 +0000 Mark Brush 1739 at http://michiganradio.org Bing to discuss progress on Detroit's downtown Invasive insect still biting local budgets http://michiganradio.org/post/invasive-insect-still-biting-local-budgets <p>The <a href="http://www.emeraldashborer.info/">emerald ash borer</a> is native to eastern Russia, northern China, Japan, and Korea. It turned up in Michigan in June of 2002, most likely from wood used in packing materials in international cargo ships.</p><p>Since its arrival, the bug has led to the death of tens of millions of ash trees.</p><p>Removing these trees can be expensive and while some cities have seen the financial bite come and go, others are still feeling it.</p><p>Eric Dresden writes in the <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2011/03/emerald_ash_borer_troubles_cou.html">Saginaw News</a> that the city is unsure how it will pay for the removal of hundreds of dead ash trees. From the Saginaw News:</p><blockquote><p>Of the 6,000 ash trees lining the city&rsquo;s streets, Simeon Martin expects thousands could be dead by the end of this year.<br /><br />The cause: an emerald ash borer infestation brewing for at least nine years.<br /><br />&ldquo;When spring comes out, that will be the tell-tale time,&rdquo; said Martin, chief foreman of the city&rsquo;s streets division.<br /><br />Last year, the city found 400 dead trees, and this year could be a lot worse, he said. Those trees were removed, and the city is continuing to take down infested ashes, Martin said. This year, he said, the infestation is expected to grow faster than crews can take down the trees.</p></blockquote><p>Dresden reports the city has no money set aside for the removal of dead and dying trees, and when the trees are removed, no new trees are being planted because the city doesn&#39;t have the budget to maintain them. Mon, 21 Mar 2011 15:05:15 +0000 Mark Brush 1724 at http://michiganradio.org Invasive insect still biting local budgets Proposal calls for revenue sharing based on population http://michiganradio.org/post/proposal-calls-revenue-sharing-based-population <p>Proposals for different ways the state delivers payments to local governments for services are bubbling up at the state Capitol.</p><p>A bill in the state Senate would distribute revenue sharing payments to cities, townships and villages based on population. Thu, 27 Jan 2011 21:43:57 +0000 Laura Weber 1045 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan Municipal League calls for region-based taxes http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-municipal-league-calls-region-based-taxes <p>Michigan’s local governments say if the state cuts revenue sharing, then they should be allowed to ask voters for new taxes to replace that money.</p><p><a href="http://www.mml.org/home.html">The Michigan Municipal League</a> met with Governor Rick Snyder last week, and has answered his call for proposals to save money and cut costs for local governments, and to make communities more viable and attractive.</p><p>Dan Gilmartin is executive director of the Municipal League. He says it starts by looking at regions:</p><blockquote><p>Economies in Michigan are regional. The dirty little secret is there is no state economy. And there’s certainly no local economy. Economies are regional.</p></blockquote><p>Gilmartin says local governments need the authority to ask voters for region-based taxes to support development, and maintain roads and services. Wed, 26 Jan 2011 22:09:18 +0000 Laura Weber 1029 at http://michiganradio.org Why removing freeways can be good for cities http://michiganradio.org/post/why-removing-freeways-can-be-good-cities <p><em>(You can also see this story with more photos on the </em><a href="http://www.changinggears.info/2011/01/12/why-removing-freeways-can-be-good-for-cities/">Changing Gears website</a>)</p><p>Half a century after cities across our region and country built sprawling freeways, many of those roads are reaching the end of their useful lives.</p><p>Instead of rebuilding them, a growing number of cities are thinking about, or actively, removing them. That may come as a surprise.</p><p>When Clevelanders hear that the <a href="http://planning.city.cleveland.oh.us/projects/detail.php?ID=41">city plans to convert a coastal freeway</a> into a slower, tree-lined boulevard, you get reactions like this one from Judie Vegh:</p><blockquote><p>“I think it’s a pretty bad idea for commuters,” she said. “And if it were 35 mph, I would just be later than usual.”</p></blockquote><p>Within the next few years, Vegh’s commute on Cleveland’s West Shoreway will likely look very different.</p><p><a href="http://www.city.cleveland.oh.us/CityofCleveland/Home/Government/Cabinet/RBrown">Cleveland City Planner Bob Brown</a> says this is not the traditional highway project, "the traditional highway project is obviously speeding things up, adding more capacity, and often ignoring the character of neighborhoods."</p><p>It’s quite a change.</p><p>In the 1950s and 60s, freeways were seen as progress and modernity. They were part of urban renewal and planners like New York’s Robert Moses tore through neighborhoods to put up hulking steel and concrete roadways.</p><p>Today, cities are looking to take them down.</p><p>The list is long:</p><ul><li>New Orleans</li><li>New Haven</li><li>Buffalo</li><li>Syracuse</li><li>San Francisco</li></ul><p>These are just some US cities thinking about or actively taking freeways down. You can find more information about these projects on the <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/2011/01/13/freeway-removal-goes-mainstream-a-survey-of-projects/">Changing Gears website</a>. Thu, 13 Jan 2011 20:18:28 +0000 Dan Bobkoff 876 at http://michiganradio.org Why removing freeways can be good for cities Kalamazoo balances city budget with ease, for now… http://michiganradio.org/post/kalamazoo-balances-city-budget-ease-now%E2%80%A6 <p>Kalamazoo has a new balanced budget in place…with no layoffs, tax increases or cuts to city services. City commissioners unanimously approved the 2011 budget plan Monday night. Tue, 04 Jan 2011 18:40:58 +0000 Lindsey Smith 742 at http://michiganradio.org Kalamazoo balances city budget with ease, for now…