Interest in township name change resurfaces

FLINT TWP. — Welcome to West Haven? Grandview Heights? Garland Township?

Those are some of the new names for Flint Township that have been bandied about in the past. Interest in changing the township’s name surfaced in the 1950s, 1970s and most recently in 2012 but never came to fruition.

Now township officials may once again consider the idea.

In response to a request from Trustee George Menoutes at the February 1 board meeting, Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said that she would consult the township attorney then try to assemble a committee.

Miller said that a previous name-change committee she set up in 2012 met a few times but did not pursue the idea.

Menoutes said he brought up the subject again to see if there is value in changing the township’s name. “I feel bad about this water situation with the City of Flint,” he said. “It is hard to believe the trauma those people are going through to waking up trying to brush their teeth or take a shower. What happens there affects this township because we have the Flint name.”

Menoutes said he’s heard stories about Flint’s problems negatively impacting investors interested in opening a business in Flint Township.

“We are not in Flint but we are associated with it,” he said. He referenced the positive results from Pontiac Township changing its name to Auburn Hills in 1983. That area has since flourished.

“I am thinking of protecting Flint Township,” Menoutes said. “Any more thought to changing the name might reduce insurance premiums and might create jobs.”

During public comment, Gene Leverette, a resident, said he would prefer to see the township focus its energy on helping Flint through its water crisis. Leverette said his church is in Flint and he has relatives living there.

“We need to focus on helping the City of Flint formulate a solution to the water crisis,’’ he said, adding that he had shared some of his ideas with Miller. “That is our neighboring city. I understand why Trustee Menoutes is talking about Auburn Hills and Pontiac but we have a crisis at hand right now.”

Miller said she would seek volunteers willing to serve on the name-change committee.

The committee formed in 2012 looked at proposals to change the township name or to become a city. That proposal also resulted from expressed interest in distancing Flint Township from crime and other perceived negative factors associated with the City of Flint.

That committee met about three times before the issue returned to the backburner. Miller said then that a name change had been attempted unsuccessfully at least twice in the past — in the 1950s and in the 1970s.

Previously, Miller met with Auburn Hills officials and obtained information from the township attorney about the legalities of a name or status change.

She said then that if the committee chose to pursue the name change, the process could take a few years and ultimately be placed on a ballot for township voters to decide.

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