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Meet 1Washtenaw: York Township

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Meet 1Washtenaw is a series of interviews with local unit of government officials that highlights these municipalities and their leaders. This interview features Joe Zurawski, Supervisor of York Township.

28 separate units of government make for a rich and diverse Washtenaw County.  1Washtenaw, is a meeting point, advanced by Washtenaw County government, for those cities, townships, and villages to compare notes and priorities, seizing opportunities for collaboration.

Meet 1Washtenaw is a series of interviews with local unit of government officials that highlights these municipalities and their leaders. The interviews are conducted by Nina Johnson, the Countys 1Washtenaw Coordinator.

York Township is located in the southeast of corner of Washtenaw County, bounded by Saline Township to the west, Augusta Township to the east, Pittsfield Township to the north, and Monroe County to the south.  I traveled down Willis Road then turned left onto Platt Road. Platt Road took me to Stony Creek Road, then onto my final destination...York Township Hall.  While driving, I noticed development taking place in different parts of the township.  While large areas of farmland still exists, development is shaping York Township into a different place.  Pictures of the Mooreville settlement and a rendering of the Toyota Technical Center were displayed in the lobby of the township hall.  As I was meeting with the Township Supervisor, Joe Zurawski, I was thinking of change.

Tell me a little about York Township, what sets it apart?
Very few people are familiar with the Hamlet of Mooreville. The Hamlet of Mooreville was one of the early Joe Zurawski, York Township Supervisorsettlements of Washtenaw County.  Just follow Stony Creek Road west and it will take you into Mooreville.  Land records there go back to 1824.  There were just under 1200 residents in York Township when Michigan became a state in 1837.  An abandoned church from the 1800s still stands about 200 feet from the road surrounded by trees.

York Township is also known for the Saline Valley Farm. It started as an economic experiment with cooperative living and farming in the 1930s.  The residents also canned and sold produce from the farming activities.  The Teamsters then bought the land in 1969 and used it as their recreation area.  The area is now a new housing development. York Township is currently experiencing a lot of housing development.

One of the most exciting projects taking place here is the Toyota Technical Center. The location of the Center is on the site of the old state hospital off of Willis Road.

What has been the greatest change over time in York Township?
The pressure for residential development! 
Every week I receive phone calls from developers wanting to build in York Township.  I would like to maintain the rural feel of York Township, avoid high traffic by limiting development in the township.  Managing the demand for development has been a challenge for me lately.

Michigans home rule status has made many things possible over the years, but do your think attitudes are beginning to shift as population increases?
Home rule has allowed the townships to share more resources.  Many times we are working on similar projects, and are fortunate to be able to share resources and coordinate information.  The net result is a more efficient way of doing business and an attractive living environment for the residents.

What County services do you useGIS, website services, map store?
We have used the Brownfield Redevelopment Program extensively with the Toyota project.  We also use police services, eWashtenaw Mapping, and the Planning Department to help assist us with land use planning.  We have a website, however, currently, our website is more informational.  As York continues to grow, we will add additional information and functionality to the website.  For now, our goal is to make sure that the information on the website is timely.

What about the relationship with the County would you change?
I would change how tax dollars are spent for the townships. I think the tax dollars spent should be proportionate to the share input. I feel very strongly about this.

What do you see in the future?
Washtenaw County is a very attractive place to live. I see increasing pressure to develop. I think it is already very difficult to manage the amount of development in the County, and it is only going to become more so.

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