Headwall hearings arouse core issue

Angry residents gathered at Baldwin’s Town Hall for this month’s headwall hearings claiming their disgust at the intrusion of government into their lives and some even asserting that the headwalls and other decorative items Baldwin had stated were in the right-of-way were actually on private land.

It turns out some of those items were, in fact, on private land. Additionally, Baldwin has learned from lawyers that there may be more room for how the township chooses to interpret the law than previously understood.

As a result, Baldwin is suspending the August 1 deadline for removing the headwalls. At their July 12 meeting, the town board will set a date for a future meeting in which they can create a policy about right-of-way infringement.

“What we are probably going to do is go after the very big boulders and we’re not going to nitpick the little things,” Town Board Chair Jeff Holm said.

The hearings floated some of Baldwin’s core issues to the surface. Many of the township’s residents moved to and love Baldwin for its lack of city control and the ability to use their land, for the most part, as they wish, without constantly having to seek permits.

Some residents thought Baldwin should take a wait and see approach with the headwalls, waiting until something happened that would necessitate their removal before doing anything and letting any resulting lawsuit hammer out the details.

But, Jeff says, the poor planning that put Baldwin in the situation it is in today was created by that hands-off approach.

“Now I am really interested to see what happens June 29 [at the visioning session],” Jeff said. “Is it all going to be like that,” with residents wanting to wait and see, rather than move forward with changes?

When people moved from the cities up to Baldwin, they thought they were escaping the type of issues that required strict regulation, Jeff says, “but, really, they brought the issues with them, it’s just the enforcement that hasn’t been there.”

This identity crisis is at the core of Baldwin — a desire to have better planning, but a large group of residents who are appalled by too much government involvement.

As Baldwin continues to better enforce the regulations it already has and begins to create plans for the future, it will walk this tightrope.

Come share where you sit on the sliding scale between Baldwin evolving into something new and Baldwin maintaining the identity of what already exists here on the blog and at the June 29 visioning session.

Comments are closed.