Bloomfield Hills Lahser and Andover High
Schools are two of Michigan’s most prominent high schools,
and they may soon be sharing a campus. According to a Jan. 12
article in the Detroit Free Press, a proposal is in the works for
Lahser to be rebuilt at Andover, where the two schools will
maintain separate buildings and athletics teams while sharing an
athletic facility and a fine arts building. This merger is a
troubling symptom of one of the great issues facing the state: the
effect of urban sprawl and the state’s inability to regulate
land use patterns.

Kate Green

Particularly alarming is the situation that the Bloomfield Hills
School District finds itself in. Unlike inner ring suburbs, where
concerns of this matter are far more prevalent, Bloomfield Hills is
the wealthiest school district in the state. In recent years it has
seen its tax base decline and revenues drop as citizens move even
farther away from Detroit — the condition that prompted
cash-strapped officials to combine the two high schools. The
deterioriating situation is a dramatic reminder of the challenge
facing concerning land use issues.

Taking steps to combat this epidemic, Governor Jennifer Granholm
announced the formation of a bipartisan Michigan Land Use
Leadership Council on Feb. 5, 2003. Since then, its 26 members have
been feverishly addressing the trends, causes and consequences of
unplanned and unmanaged growth and development in Michigan. One of
the largest problems to be dealt with is the problem of sprawl.
Sprawl is typically by farms and forestland becoming low-density
development that spreads across the landscape with little
identifiable form, you have sprawl. And beccause Michigan has, in
recent decades, seen more and more of this phenomena, it faces a
large scale problem.

In order to minimize sprawl, it is imperative to create more
compact, economically feasible communities, protect the lands our
resource-based industries depend upon and stop spending public
money on methods that support sprawl. On Aug. 18, 2003, the
land-use council presented 150 recommendations to the governor and
the state’s legislative leaders covering all aspects of
it’s plan, which included recommendations for urban
revitalization, land resource-based industries and planning and
development regulations.

The importance of the council’s work is clearly evident in
the plight of the Bloomfield Hills School District. If Bloomfield
Hills proves unable to maintain its tax base and fund its schools,
it would mean that even the most affluent of communities can fall
victim to urban sprawl. Michigan’s cities and 37 million
acres of land could all too easily waste away if not properly cared
for. With time and compromise from both the government and the
citizens, the land-use council will be able to successfully enact
its ideas and ensure that Michigan will continue to flourish well
into the future.

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