FLINT TWP. — A preliminary meeting last week to discuss changing the township’s name resulted in a plan to move forward including future meeting dates.
Supervisor Karyn Miller introduced Jerry Preston as chairperson of a committee being formed to explore the name change suggestion. Preston previously headed a committee that led to passage of the township’s anti-panhandling ordinance in early 2015. A sign-up sheet was passed around for those interested in serving on the committee. About 50 people attended the meeting but Preston said the size of the selected committee would be smaller.
Preston outlined four options that the committee will review before making a recommendation to the township board. One is a recommendation to change the township name, another is to convert to a city, a third is to get new U.S. postal address. The fourth would be not to make any change.
The purpose of the committee will be to review the processes required to achieve each outcome, examine the advantages and disadvantages of each process, and select a new name, if recommended,
Miller noted that a committee formed in 2012 met a few times and decided not to move forward. That group looked at legal and financial obstacles. Miller said she preferred to start fresh rather than reintroduce that committee’s findings.
Interest in changing the name of the township date back to the 1950s but resurfaced recently based on the impact of the Flint water crisis on township businesses. Flint Township was organized in 1836 and incorporated as a Charter Township in July 1978.
Kevin Stiff, a business owner and resident, prompted the township board to take another look at changing the township’s name. Stiff said the new committee should consider the township’s interest now and not what it was in 2012 or 1952 when a name change was previously considered.
“The name Flint might not affect you as a resident but it affects me as a business owner and has for three or four years,” he said. He mentioned at previous board meetings that several businesses in the township or struggling or have closed. The name change is worth looking into, he said.
The preliminary discussion, though brief, included comments for and against the proposal. Some questioned the cost of changing signage and effect on insurance rates. Some said they did not want the township’s xx to take four years, as it did 1983 when Pontiac Township became a city and changed its name to Auburn Hills. Several people commented on how often Flint township is confused with the city of Flint, especially since the water contamination crisis made national headlines. One woman said her relatives and friends will not visit her because they think she lives in Flint.
Others also said their businesses have been impacted. Many township businesses have posted pubic signs to let patrons know they are not supplied by Flint water. Tracey Tucker, township economic development director, said that one potential business developer pulled out of a project because its board was put off by the Flint water situation, even after being told that Flint Township is separate.
She said several realtors also had voiced interest in a name change.
Three new township board members elect also attended the meeting but did not voice opinions. They are expected to take office after the November election and would be part of the panel making the final decision on whether to place a name-change referendum before township voters.
The committee, which has no official name, is due to meet again at 6 p.m. on Thursday October 20 at the township hall. Other proposed meeting dates are November 17 and December 8 at the same time and place. All meetings are open to the public, Preston said. Other hearings are meetings will be scheduled if needed.