"If we stayed a village, life wouldn't change," concludes Hansen. "But we wouldn't be as forward thinking."
Chelsea's ChoiceTen years ago, the Village of Chelsea decided to become the City of Chelsea. Fred Mills, a member of Chelsea's charter commission, has some thoughts for Dexter on the process: "It's the biggest decision a village can make, and it's going to affect everything for years."
Mills was for cityhood. "A village is the lowest form of government in the state. Townships are more powerful than villages. They have the power to run all elections and to assess property taxes. But the main reason to do it was it gave us leverage in dealing with the state we didn't have as a village."
Chelsea needed that leverage, says Mills, because "as a village, we had no authority over what happened on M-52," which runs through the center of town. "In the past the state had put in traffic lights without asking the village, and they were talking about widening it, and that would have ruined everything."
Beyond changing relations with other governments, Mills says becoming a city "gave us a means to deal with our own problems by writing our own charter, to tailor-make our own ordinances and zoning. It gave the residents the right to control their destiny."