Students and Ann Arbor residents filled the Michigan Union Ballroom last night to hear community members discuss the Greenbelt proposal, also known as Proposal B, which will be decided in Tuesday’s city election.

If passed, this proposal would prolong the current 0.5-mil property tax for a period of 30 years and use the money raised for safeguarding parks and other open spaces in the Ann Arbor area.

Opponents to Proposal B say the proposition could cause housing and rental costs to increase, possibly hurting students’ interests.

The two-hour public forum tried to address these concerns, as well as respond to the urban sprawl issue, which supporters say is one reason for the Greenbelt.

Mike Garfield, director of the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, supports Proposal B because urban sprawl affects water and air pollution, two of his major concerns. “While relatively clean now, some parts of the Huron River are close to the eight to ten percent tipping point,” he said.

The Huron River is a major source of drinking water for the city. Garfield also noted that traffic and air pollution could cause serious breathing problems for the city’s residents.

But another panelist, Margaret Dewar, said she has never voted against parks but does not like urban sprawl.

“I oppose Proposal B because it won’t deal with problems of urban sprawl, it’s fiscally irresponsible and it’s a boon to NIMBY (Not In My Backyard)-ism,” Dewar said, who is a professor in the College of Urban Planning and Architecture.

LSA senior Dana Leavitt said she thought the forum was informative. “It’s really relevant to what I’m studying in my (American culture) class,” she said.

“The pollution and the run-off (from the Huron River) are problems that affect everyone, and affordable housing is an issue for people who live in Ann Arbor or work here and for students.”

The event, which was sponsored by Students for Public Interest Research Group in Michigan, was followed by an hour-long question-and-answer session.




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