Tart Cherry Blossoms on Ward Johnson's farm on Center Road, Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Tart Cherry Blossoms on Ward Johnson's farm on Center Road, Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photoalong Center Road near the Smokey Hollow Road intersection on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
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(Editor’s Note: Lou Santucci says he will not be voting for the renewal of the PDR program on the August 2 ballot. Read on for his reasons why, and click here for a primer on the program – what it is, how it works, how it began, and its impact on OMP farmers and residents. -jb)

The PDR program is up for renewal, and I will vote not to renew it.

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The first reason is I am against any new tax on my property. The PDR program will assess every property owner at two dollars per thousand dollars of valuation. Thanks to the Michigan limit on increases in real estate values from year to year, my property valuation is currently under $200,000. I have calculated that I would pay about an additional $250 a year until 2041 if the program is adopted. Thats $5000 in additional taxes.

Everyone should take out their tax bill and calculate what additional taxes you will pay each year until 2041.Some of the yes vote material is misleading in that it talks about only a few dollars a month in additional taxes. You need to know that is over what you were paying under the old program. It’s more than a few dollars.

I would hazard a guess that you will be surprised when you calculate it, especially if you bought a house in the last couple of years. That is on top of what you have paid over the years. For those who support this program, I suggest that the program should be voluntary and if you want to contribute to it, fine, do so. But I do not like the idea that other people will vote to tax me. It goes against my libertarian political nature.

Another reason I am against it is because it contains a slush fund provision, and frankly, I do not trust the Township officials with a slush fund. Will they use it for defending other lawsuits? Will they use it to vote themselves raises like they recently did? Who knows – it’s there to play with.

Currently the PDR ordinance allows a person selling their development rights to then sell the property for agricultural uses. Will that always be the case? Who knows? Will the Township put further restrictions on what they consider agricultural uses? If not, why didn’t they put a provision in there to say no further restrictions will be enacted during the life of the program?

Also, there has been talk of allowing public access to your land if you sell your development rights. Again, why wasn’t a provision added to ensure that never happens?

Plenty of land has already been protected using our money to do so. Do we need more? I would like to see some modest expansion of available commercial space out here and allowance for multi-family and low- to middle-income housing. Why shouldn’t we have a diversified housing base out here? Why shouldn’t our fire personnel and other workers have affordable housing offerings here?

The PDR program takes away such possibilities. Must we perpetuate a community of mostly well off wealthy people? Let’s open those invisible gates to others.

Vote No on the upcoming PDR renewal vote.

Also Read…

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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    • Thank you Louis for your clear, logical response. I can easily follow it. The language of the PDR proposal is so abstract and convoluted it makes me suspicious–as if important issues are being hidden. Why was it written that way?

    • A few points of clarification:
      1. Regarding public access, Section 2 # 13 states
      “it remains in private ownership and is not open to public access except as allowed by the landowner and subject to the conservation easement terms.”

      2. Regarding a “slush” fund, a monitoring fund and a legal enforcement fund are necessary to ensure the lands in the program maintain and respect the purpose of the easements. Section 14 clearly defines the funds as
      A. “a Purchase of Development Rights Enforcement Account”
      B. “a Purchase of Development Rights Monitoring Endowment”
      3. And each states the funds are to be “used solely for the purposes set forth in this Section”.
      These funds are not created for a board to “play with” they are created for an important and defined purpose. Should a future board try to use fonds in any other way any citizen can sue for enforcement of the clear language of the ordinance.

      4. Regarding tax amount paid. If your valuation is under $200,000 you would pay under $200 each year, not $250 each year, since the full tax after it is reset is 2 mils, and that means $2 for each $1000 of taxable valuation, or on a $200,000 taxable value property $200 each year or $16.67 each month.

  1. John

    thanks for the clarification

    However as you know the pdr ordinance can be changed at anytime in the future. They can also require the contract for selling one’s PDR rights to adhere to terms set by the township, like happened with regard to migrant housing.

    John if house is 200,000 and 2 per 1000 isn’t that 200 times $2 or $400 what am I missing>
    John to be exact my house value for pdr purposes is 146,752 taxable value. So my pdr tax would be about $293 correct? It is currently 143.25 according to my winter 2021 tax bill. That’s a$150 increase what am I missing here?

    I don’t like the idea of slush funds no matter the purpose. Why shouldn’t the millions that will be raised in this assessment be enough?

  2. First: Yes Louis, you are correct, my mistake. Your total bill will be $293 each year or $24.46 each month. My apologies for that glitch out.
    And the amount of increase over what you paid last year will be $42.22 or $3.51 each month.
    And then in this statement of yours:

    “I don’t like the idea of slush funds no matter the purpose. Why shouldn’t the millions that will be raised in this assessment be enough?”

    It sounds like you are saying that the monitoring and enforcement funds should come out of the PDR assessment That is exactly where they are coming from.

    • Yes thats what I am saying. So yes it comes out of the whole fund. There doesnt seem to be a breakdown of the costs for which it will be used.
      Lets say for arguments sake there is s surplus of money in 5 or 10 years because no one uses the program what happens to that money.


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