In a city with vast amounts of vacant land, chronic underinvestment and a severe lack of jobs, you would think a proposal that helps in all those areas would be welcomed with open arms. Not when you have the Detroit City Council to deal with.
It’s hard to put the severe ineptitude of the Detroit City Council into perspective. Every thing they do seems to be to the detriment of the city and the residents. This city needs jobs and outside investment to help it rebuild, yet the city council does everything in their power to chase jobs and investment away. Not even two weeks ago the Detroit City Council voted to double taxes on businesses in Detroit – not exactly what small business owners want to see when deciding where to open new businesses or whether to keep their existing business in Detroit.
Detroit City Income Tax
To better understand the role that city income taxes have on jobs in an area, consider the fact that Detroit and Highland Park have the two highest city income taxes in the State of Michigan, and the only suburb of Detroit that even has a city income tax is Pontiac. None of the other suburbs even has a city income tax. Why would Detroit want to follow the example of Highland Park and Pontiac, rather than Ferndale, Royal Oak or any of the other suburbs that manage to attract new businesses and provide better services and safer neighborhoods without an additional tax?
Now Michigan State University wants to build an urban farming research center in Detroit, and the City Council isn’t interested. Once again, they are trying their best to chase away outside money and development, to the detriment of the city and its residents. If the City Council can’t get a piece of the action or extend their control, then they want nothing to do with it. They aren’t interested in doing what is best for the city, they simply want to enrich themselves and extend their power. The people of Detroit should be calling for their resignations, but instead they’ll sell their votes for another handout, extending their poverty and staying trapped in a cycle of destruction.
John Hantz Connection?
Some opponents have claimed that there may be a connection to John Hantz and his urban farming initiatives, as if that were a bad thing. John Hantz wants to develop vacant lots in Detroit into urban farms, but the City Council has been blocking his efforts for years. However, as unwarranted as the concerns are, they are also irrelevant because there is no connection with John Hantz and Hantz Farms.
Rick Foster, the director of MSU’s Greening Michigan Institute has already addressed the concerns and said that this will be strictly a Michigan State University project. MSU wants to invest $100 million into developing a state-of-the-art urban research center in some of the most desolate areas of Detroit – City Council should be doing everything in their power to speed the development along, not present obstacles. Most of the best development that Detroit has seen in the Midtown area has come from Wayne State University, keeping MSU out of the city would be foolish.
MSU has scouted several areas for development if they are able to get the green light for the project. The lower east side would seem to be a natural fit, with its vast amounts of urban prairies and proximity to Eastern Market. If the city gives approval, development would probably start small with around 10 acres – and expand from there up to 100 acres.
Anybody that has ever driven through this area knows that it looks like an abandoned war zone. Turning down any investment in the area should be criminal.