April 3, 2015
First let me say, on behalf of our Board of Directors; thank you again for the support and encouragement you’ve provided to us as we’ve struggled through the zoning approval process to develop Heritage Cove Farm.
Our application was submitted back in March, and it took the county eight months to finally schedule the required hearing providing the public with an opportunity to state their opinion about our request for approval of a therapeutic farm community in northern Michigan. We couldn’t have been more proud of the strong letters of support that were provided to the county on our behalf, and were touched by those that were able to attend the November 4th public meeting to voice their support. Not surprising, but most certainly disappointing, the stigma associated with mental illness came through loud and strong that night, by those in opposition.
The Planning Commission members were then expected to consider the public comment, commence deliberation, and make a decision at their next meeting on December 2, 2015. Unfortunately, there was no decision. More discussion, more questions, and more frustration as we listened to the Planning Commission Board members struggle with evaluating our uses in comparison to the county’s zoning ordinance. The use proposed in our application is not defined in the zoning ordinance, and the “not in my backyard” and other fallacies unrelated to zoning, were heard loud and clear. Our project was once again tabled until December 16th.
Christmas came and past, and a promise that a decision would be forthcoming proved to be another disappointment. However, with each email or letter I received; or the strangers that approached me to say “I know this must be hard, but please keep up the fight. What you’re doing is important, and we need something like this…”, my confidence grew and I was encouraged that we were making the right investment.
Dr. Oliver Sacks said it best when he described Gould Farm (the first residential therapeutic community in the nation, dedicated to adults with mental illness): “Gould Farm is a unique and pioneering refuge for people with mental disorders. A place where respect and relationship, work and friends, are central to the healing process. We need many more such places in the world.” The Planning Commission members of Cheboygan County had an opportunity to do something really important last night. AND THEY DID!!!! We received complete approval of all of our requested uses, and 100% site plan approval!!! Heritage Cove Farm will be the next “pioneering refuge”!!!
The strong content of each of the letters of support we received were important, along with the expertise and professionalism of our attorney team. Thank you for your continued interest and involvement; we look forward to keeping you updated on our journey forward.
Betsy & Larry Hanson
and the Board of Directors of Heritage Cove Farm