On March 8, 2006, Sprawl-Busters brought you the first-hand account of a citizen’s revolt in Canton, Michigan against a developer’s plans to convert a golf course into a “Lifestyle” retail center. Canton Trustee Todd Caccamo’s message to Sprawl-Busters today was short and to the point: “Great news: We just succeeded in stopping the Fellows Creek / Life Style Mall fiasco in Canton, MI!!! The citizens came out in force and held the politicians accountable!! It was a great day!” Homeowners had organized to stop the potential sale of a 197 acre, Canton-owned golf course to a developer. The West Bloomfield-based Lormax Stern Development Co. approached Canton officials last February to buy the golf course for $17 million to create a “Main Street-style retail center.” Canton officials claimed the project would bring in as much as $600,000 in tax revenue annually. Of the total land area, 100 acres of golf course would be converted to open space, and the remaining 97 acres would be developed. Lormax’s plans called for a huge, 600,000 s.f retail center — about the size of 12.5 football fields. “Lifestyle” center is developer’s code for higher-end shops and restaurants, as opposed to just big boxes. The Fellows Creek golf course is owned by the township, and has been making money for the community. The golf course has been owned by the township since 1978. One resident against the project was quoted in the Detroit News as saying, “They’re trying to dig up my back yard and build a downtown. Why are we wanting to make another downtown?” Trustee Caccamo said he became opposed to the proposal after he heard residents’ concerns. “If this happened in my back yard, I’d be livid,” he said.
In the end, resident protests against the plan brought it down. This week the Canton Trustees rejected the plan. For more background on this organizing victory, go to http://cantonvoice.com and search Newsflash by the name of the town.