Trustee Elect Thalmann withheld information from the Previous Board of Oakland Township in order to thwart the Blossom Ridge Development.
In an email sent by Trustee Maureen Thallmann on November 22, 2012 to Supervisor Gonser, she states:
“I have found a loop hole in how the last Board of Oakland Township had handled the rezoning and researched it through Brooks Patterson’s office. Marty (McQuade) asked me not to tell anyone about my find so as not to give the last Board of Oakland Township, and the developer, a chance to act. It will be interesting to see how Moceri responds.”
Here are the events that lead up to Trustee Thalmann’s statement:
- On August 14, 2012, the previous Board approved the rezoning for the Blossom Ridge Development.
- On August 21, 2012 Robin Buxar, who ran for Trustee, signed the intent for the voter referendum to potentially invalidate the Previous Board’s approval.
- On September 18, 2012, Trustee Elect Thalmann discovers that the previous Board failed to have the County Coordinated Zoning Committee provide input on the Blossom Ridge Project prior to the Township Board’s approval, since it borders Rochester Hills.
- Trustee Elect Thalmann shares this information with Robin Buxar, Marty McQuade (another resident of Oakland Township opposed to Blossom Ridge), and Attorney Gregory Need.
- Between September 18th and when the new Board took office on November 20th, the four of them did not communicate Trustee Elect Thalmann’s “discovery” stating:
“We need to continue to keep the information confidential so as not to allow Moceri to learn of the issue until the Board is ready to take action” – Marty McQuade – November 21, 2012
“We still need to keep it between ourselves.” – Robin Buxar – November 21, 2012
“Marty (McQuade) asked me not to tell anyone about my find so as not to give the last Board of Oakland Township, and the developer, a chance to act. It will be interesting to see how Moceri responds.” – Trustee Thalmann – November 22, 2012
- At the November 27, 2012 Board meeting, Attorney Need shares the issue with the public after having sent a letter to Supervisor Gonser on November 20th.
- From November 27th until the referendum on August 6, 2013, the Board took actions that delayed the referendum in the hopes of obtaining a decision from the State Attorney General on the procedural issue described above. (Please read post under “Ethics” that describes attempts by Board to get Attorney General Opinion)
- On February 26th, Attorney Need’s company was one of a few legal firms interviewed as possible Legal Counsel for the Township at the request of Supervisor Gonser.
Here is the supporting documentation on this subject:
As stated on another entry on this website, since the Blossom Ridge Development borders Rochester Hills, the approval process was to have included a review by the Oakland County Coordinating Zoning Committee prior to the Township Board approving the rezoning. The review did take place in early 2013, and they unanimously approved the plan. This is the step that Trustee Thalmann “found” had not taken place in the proper sequence.
However, Trustee Thalmann’s actions in withholding her findings were not in the best interests of the Township.
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? We expect integrity in our elected officials. An elected official, that was about to take office, withholding information that would have allowed the Township to deal with an issue in a timely manner, may ultimately result in higher fines being placed on Oakland Township if the Department of Justice determines that Oakland Township has discriminatory zoning practices.
Do you think Trustee Thalmann’s withholding information was the right thing to do?
Do you think it was appropriate to include Attorney Need’s firm in the “short list” of possible firms to represent Oakland Township?
Do you agree with “the end justifies the means” approach our leadership has – and is – taking on issues?