Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 16, 2013

Editorial: Differing approaches to governance

Our view
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Two local governmental agencies, two apparent about-faces.

But how each went about their business and reached new decisions on contentious topics may well speak volumes about the respective public organizations.

Grand Traverse County Road Commission members recently met with officials from TC-TALUS, a group that includes 22 local agencies and helps plot local transportation and land use. Road commissioners in January voted to halt payments to TALUS — about $20,000 annually — in what appeared to be an overly sweeping and short-sighted indictment of TALUS’ effectiveness, or lack thereof. Now, who knows what other personal and political agendas were at play, but the thought here is that the road commission shot first and asked questions later.

They perhaps didn’t give a whole lot of thought to the Michigan Department of Transportation’s close ties to TALUS, perhaps didn’t realize MDOT officials might be hesitant to support some Grand Traverse road efforts if their road board partners held such a recalcitrant view of inter-agency efforts.

And maybe the road commission needs to shore up some relationships even closer to home. Road commissioners want to put a winter road maintenance millage before county voters, and to do so they need approval from the county board of commissioners, who may understand the need to strengthen ties before they agree to a millage. Recent talks with TALUS are a positive sign, but the road board often acts in mysterious ways.

Another agency appears to have handled conflict in more direct fashion. Garfield Township planning commissioners at a meeting last week strongly urged Traverse City Light & Power officials to agree to install a sidewalk to assist pedestrians near a substation TCL&P plans to construct on LaFranier Road. Garfield officials said a sidewalk would greatly benefit residents of that busy stretch, including the Kings Court mobile home park.

Garfield officials believed TCL&P representatives spoke in circles regarding their sidewalk concerns at that meeting, and began to flex for a public hearing next month, at which township officials ostensibly could have rejected the public utility’s substation permit.

No need for drama, said Tim Arends, TCL&P’s executive director. If Garfield officials want a sidewalk, they’ll get one to go along with the substation, as well as some other perks, he said.

Just like that, the TCL&P issue in Garfield appears to be a non-issue. As for the road commission-TALUS matter? Who knows when that bumpy path will be smoothed over.