In early 2006, Wayne County, Washtenaw County, the Wayne County Airport authority, and several Southeast Michigan cities and townships agreed to collectively pursue the development of an airport city-an aerotropolis comprised of 60,000 acres around the Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports. This initiative would essentially attempt to create a new core community by attracting the construction of business parks, industrial parks, logistics parks, IT complexes, wholesale merchandise stores, and other businesses that might be attracted by the notion of easy access to large-capacity air shipment and travel.
The new community would require new infrastructure, namely in the form of new transportation. According to the initiative's website, mass transit would play a significant role in the development of this community. The first course of action in this regard would likely have to do with the proposed Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail, which just gained $7.5 million in federal funds for a study to be conducted on the project.
A promotional video also says that execution of this initiative could bring 64,000 jobs to the area, $3.8 billion in annual wages, and $10 billion in economic activity per year. $171 million in tax revenue would also be produced.
The package of bills recently read by the House Transportation Committee would create tax incentives and an expedited zoning process for the community, whose area would be zoned as one of several "Next Michigan" districts in the state. Within a given district are "Next Michigan Renaissance Zones". Both state-level zoning measures require the consent of the municipalities within which the territory lies.
Shortly after the Transportation Committee acted upon the legislation, the Michigan Municipal League released a statement indicating that while it supports the measures, much work remains to be done on the bills, namely to ensure that core cities have a greater say in the process and are able to benefit more directly from it.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has expressed his opposition to the project as it currently stands, stating that it is unfair to the state's core cities. He has said that he would find legislation that created administrative jobs in Detroit more agreeable.
State Representative Roy Schmidt (D-Grand Rapids), a member of the Transportation Committee, has also expressed concerns about the legislation's impact on core cities. The Representative has told MPN that he would like to see tougher qualifications for rezoning, as well as a mandatory allocation of jobs to core cities for businesses occupying the newly created zones.
MPN will continue to follow this legislation as it makes its way through the legislature.
Sources not cited in article:
Michigan Legislature (bill search for "Next Michigan")