Turning out in unusually large numbers for an off-year election,
Ann Arbor voters approved the Greenbelt proposal aimed at curbing
urban sprawl by a two-thirds margin.

Mira Levitan
Ann Arbor Mayor John Heiftje accepts a symbolic green belt while celebrating the victory of Proposal B at the Ann Arbor Brewing Company yesterday. (DAVID TUMAN/Daily)

They rejected by a smaller spread Proposal A, which would have
relaxed eligibility restrictions for City Council candidates.

The Greenbelt plan was the key issue on the ballot and passed
with 67 percent of the vote. About 25 percent of Ann Arbor
registered voters went to the polls to weigh in on the hotly
contested Proposal B.

The vote gave city officials approval for using money raised
from a 0.5-mill property tax to preserve parklands and other green,
open spaces in and around Ann Arbor.

The proposal extends for 30 years a property tax already in
place, which charges an average homeowner $45 to $50 a year.

“I believe we should take measures to curb urban sprawl,
and even though I was concerned about affordable housing, the mayor
said he would ensure that it continues in Ann Arbor,” said
LSA sophomore Ramya Raghavan.

Sporting a green streamer around his shoulders, Mayor John
Hieftje, an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal, celebrated with
other Democrats last night at Ann Arbor Brewing Company
Restaurant.

“The city will be working on an ordinance to make use of
Proposal B and will protect Huron River watershed and
parklands,” Hieftje said.

Because the lands that would be affected are not limited to Ann
Arbor, its implementation would require cooperation with other
municipalities, said Councilman Robert Johnson (D-1st Ward), who
was re-elected last night. “Ann Arbor can’t solve its
problems itself,” he added.

Hieftje said the controversial proposal increased voter turnout.
The election drew three to four times the normal turnout in an
off-year.

Opponents of the Greenbelt proposal said that it could increase
housing and rental costs, which might negatively affect
students.

But opponents said they were not discouraged by the
proposal’s success.

“We understood going in that it was going to be a tough
campaign,” said Craig Welch, chair of Washtenaw Citizens for
Responsible Growth. “We were happy for the opportunity to
campaign and we look forward to working with the mayor,” he
added.

The other proposal on the ballot, Proposal A, would have relaxed
eligibility restrictions for City Council or mayoral candidates and
for appointed officers.

Elected officials are required to be registered as voters at the
time of election. Council members are also required to be residents
in their wards one year prior to the election.

LSA freshman David Zhen, who is from the 1st Ward, said he voted
no on Proposal A. “I believe officials here should have lived
in Ann Arbor to see what kinds of problems it is going
through,” he said.

Another LSA freshman, Emma Levine, voted yes on the proposal.
“I think it is beneficial for students who want to run for
City Council, especially since they move around every eight
months,” she said.

 

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