It’s in the city’s best interest to direct development

Why in the world would three city councilmembers be opposed to having our zoning laws reviewed to make sure they are compatible to our proposed Master Plan?

That was the case at Tuesday’s council meeting, when, mysteriously, Councilmembers Abdul Algazali, Mohammed Hassan and Anam Miah voted against that action.

Their arguments against it were vague at best, but one was about the possible cost. It may very well require the city to hire a consultant to cross-reference the two documents.

But it’s something that must be done. At least, that is, if we want to consider ourselves as a fully-functioning city.

What we suspect was really at the heart of their objection was the proverbial elephant sitting in the room that no one wanted to mention.

City Councilmember Cathie Gordon brought up the proposal in the first place, in response to a recent decision by the Zoning Board of Appeals to allow a mosque to open up at the former DTE Energy building on Jos. Campau and Holmes.

Gordon is not opposed to mosques, but she is against allowing religious centers and other non-profit groups from setting up in prime real estate in the heart of the city’s business district.

Most cities have zoning laws banning that. But a federal law created by Republicans forbids applying zoning laws to places of worship, which is why the ZBA’s hands were tied.

So what does this have to do with the city’s proposed Master Plan? The Master Plan also deals with development ideas for the city, and what kinds of businesses should operate here and where.

It’s only prudent to make sure there are no other hidden clashes. If there are, there might be ways to modify the language of or zoning laws.

The city needs a Master Plan to make sure sensible development takes place, instead of development happening without any concern for the overall goals and good of the city.

Now, why would anyone be against that?

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