Name-change group ready to tackle issues

FLINT TWP. — Little progress was made at the second meeting of a committee formed to explore the idea of changing the township’s name, but specific action is planned for the third meeting set for 6 p.m. November 17 when the township attorney is expected to attend. At last week’s meeting, appointed chairperson Jerry Preston explained Roberts Rules for Order by which the committee will be governed; submitted minutes from the first meeting for approval and handed out a township history for members to read at their leisure.

He also reviewed the committee’s mission which is identify the processes required to either change the township’s name, convert to a city or change the U.S. postal codes to match a new name.

About 33 people have signed up as committee members. Most but not all attended the second meeting.

Preston, who said he would like to keep each meeting under one hour, led a brief discussion about the role of the committee and why people were for or against a name change.

One member, Melba Lewis, drew several nods of agreements to her comments in favor of a name change.

“I don’t want my address to be Flint anymore,” she said, adding that she has spent 45 years explaining to friends and family that she lives in Flint Township, not the City of Flint. And that was “when all was good” before the water contamination crisis hit Flint, she said.

“If I had a Flushing or Swartz Creek address, I would not be here,” she said.

Mark White, also a committee member, said he did some research which found that another township in Michigan that wanted to change its name found that all that was necessary was a vote of the board to put the question to voters.

Preston said there are complicated legalities involved in changing the name that will be explored in depth at future meetings.

Other committee members raised questions about whether a name change would affect school districts or insurance rates. Some generally questioned how much it would cost.

Preston said he hoped to have an expert attend a future meeting to talk about car and home insurance rates relative to a name change.

Several speakers said they empathize with the citizens of Flint but believe that removing Flint from the township name would eliminate the stigma attached to Flint’s status with issues including crime, contaminated water and trash removal.

Others agreed that it is hard to convince outsiders that Flint Township is not a part of Flint. Others mentioned the possibility of a name change having a favorable impact on business owners and real estate sales.

In future deliberations, Preston said the committee would weigh all the advantages and disadvantages of a name change or new form of governance, select a name if the group decides to move forward and make a recommendation to the township Board of Trustees.

That action is not likely to occur this year. Two more meeting dates have been established for the rest of the year but Preston advocated taking the holidays off. He said he would submit more meeting dates after the first of the year.

At the November 17 meeting, the committee will focus on the legalities of converting to a city, Preston said. The township attorney has been asked to attend the meeting to explain the procedure and answer questions, he said.

At the December 8 meeting, the committee will consider how a name change would affect postal ZIP codes.

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