Art Bailey said he uses the Golden Rule when it comes to neighbor relations.
“I mind my business; I like other people to do that as well,” said the resident of Kimberly Street in Brookfield. “I don’t want somebody coming telling me what to do with my property.”
But, Ruby Longwell, who lives at the other end of Kimberly, says the times have changed and the Golden Rule is applied less frequently than it used to be.
“We really shouldn’t have to have zoning in the first place to make a neighbor respect another neighbor and keep your place clean,” Longwell said. “Now, you have to have zoning to make a neighbor respect another neighbor.”
Yes, zoning, the regulation of land uses, is on the ballot again in Brookfield.
“It always fails,” said Joe Buckich, another Kimberly resident, but he would like to see it finally pass.
“We’d love to see zoning, so the neighborhood would be nicer,” Buckich said.
Tracie Hunter of Boyd Street doesn’t agree.
“We lived in Niles, we lived in cities where you had to get permits for everything,” Hunter said. “No. I prefer it, Brookfield, the way it is.”
Ah, Brookfield the way it is. While zoning proponents tout zoning as a way to make Brookfield more conducive to business and residential development, with that growth bringing in the next generation of people to support the community, many current residents don’t want the changes that development might bring.
“That was always part of the charm of Brookfield, that is wasn’t zoned,” Bailey said.
Bailey said he doesn’t think zoning will attract development, that businesses look at tax and other economic incentives in deciding where to locate.
Jayson Brall of Boyd Street said it’s easier and cheaper for industries to build in Mexico than in a small town like Brookfield. The township needs the small businesses that can crop up in a small town, like the wood shop he knows of that runs from a garage.
“We’re losing so many factory jobs a year,” Brall said. “If someone could start up even a small wood shop here, that would help the economy more than anything.”
Jeff Goodridge of Atlantic Street supports zoning.
“If all the communities surrounding us have it, and there’s not an outcry of issues, I’ll accept it as something that can help Brookfield,” he said.
While zoning opponents look at zoning as a taking away of people’s rights, Goodridge sees things differently.
“It protects people’s rights,” he said. “People that have things that maybe under zoning wouldn’t be acceptable are grandfathered in. All those protections are there.”
But, Brall doesn’t believe proponents who say zoning will not increase taxes, or the current township trustees, who say zoning can be administered by the current code officer without an increase in cost.
“When zoning comes in, property values usually drop for a little bit and then they start going up, and then they have to hire more officials to keep up with the zoning,” he said. “It ends up costing the taxpayers a lot more tax money. It doesn’t directly affect them, but it actually does.”
In any event, zoning is a great political story, Goodridge said.
“Nineteen votes separated us the last time (in 2017), and I think there’s equal interest on each side,” he said. “It should be interesting.”