Monthly Archives: August 2013

Trustee Elect Thalmann sets up “Ambush” for Blossom Ridge

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:

Thalmann’s “Ambush”

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?

Richard Michalski

What Has Agenda 21 To Do w Oakland Twp.?

August 13, 2013:

I asked the Oakland Township Board of Trustees “What does Agenda 21 have to do with Oakland Township?” because  Township Supervisor Gonser had told the Trustees in an email that Planning Commissioners should have an knowlege of Agenda 21.  He had also asked MI State Representative Tom McMillan to introduce legislation aimed at stopping the spread of agenda 21 initiatives.  I may not be not anyone’s idea of an orator but I want to get people to think about this absurdity.

Jim Foulkrod

Aug. 13 2013:

Township’s past planning to prevent Legal issues regarding Assisted Living Facilities

The past Planning Commission and Township Board took action to prevent the Legal issues that are now facing Oakland Township regarding discriminatory land use and Zoning ordinances. 

Back in the early part of the last decade, the Township recognized that the Township did not have any zoning that would allow for a Senior assisted living facility.  They knew that we were vulnerable for a Housing Discrimination issue if we did not at least identify some parcels of land that COULD be used for that usage.  As a result, the Planning Commission studied the possible land areas that could support the intensity of that type usage (sewers, water, roads, and surrounding zoning).  There were two locations identified as possible locations for that type usage.  One was the parcel that has the proposed Blossom Ridge development; the other was located on the Northeast corner of Adams and Gunn.  The Planning Commission and the Board approved the MASTER PLAN to indicate that those areas were POTENTIAL sites for High Density Conservation.  The Master Plan does not cause rezoning to occur.  It does indicate where that type usage COULD exist, if the property owner wanted to have it rezoned to that Zoning.

The Moceri Corporation purchased the land on Adams and Dutton, and requested that it be rezoned to the HDC from the MRD as the master plan indicated.  At the same time as the rezoning request, they indicated the development would use the PRRO option.  This defines EXACTLY what the developer is planning, and quite frankly is in the Township’s best interest so there is no “bait and switch” by the developer after the Zoning is changed.

The Zoning request was approved by the old Board, and then placed on hold because of the referendum request.  Moceri also requested the Special Accommodation request, which is allowed by our Ordinances for meeting the special needs of citizens with disabilities.  The old Board placed that request on hold by a 4 to 3 vote until after the referendum.

The new Board delayed the referendum until August of this year by repeated “on again-off again-on again” requests for an opinion from the Attorney General.

The Board’s August 13 action (or inaction) on the Special Accommodation request was VERY IMPORTANT.  If the Board had approved it, the development could go forward.  Many of the residents who voted in the referendum would be VERY UPSET, but the law must be followed – referendum or not.   By not taking action, they have further exposed the Township to delays in providing the “special accommodation” needs for a ‘protected’ portion of our population.

At the August 13th Board meeting, the Board claimed that all the criteria for making a Special Accommodation request were not satisfied. The minutes from the October 9, 2012 Board meeting show that that information was provided in the motion made by Trustee Edwards (this motion was rejected by a 4 to 3 vote).  The information was presented as part of the presentation material at that meeting. At the subsequent meeting, the Board members, opposed to development, voted to have portions of Trustee Edwards motion removed from HIS motion. It is highly unusual and inappropriate to have the Board remove content of a motion that was recorded and rejected.

Since the Special Accommodation request has been on the current Board’s “to do list” for months, raising their recent concerns NOW is another example of their ‘delay strategy”.

In the future if the Board turns the request down, or continues to delay making a decision on the Special Accommodation request, the Township may be found guilty of discrimination for the following reasons:

  1. The Master Plan allows for this type usage at that location
  2. The Developer requested the appropriate rezoning and PRRO for the plan to be developed
  3. The size, height and traffic issues are not valid based on the information that is posted on another portion of this web page under Blossom Ridge.
  4. In March, the County Zoning Coordinating Committee warned the Township that if the development is rejected, the Township would probably be found guilty for discrimination.

The past Planning Commission and a minority of the previous Board did everything they could to prevent this legal issue from causing damages to the Township.  The 4 to 3 vote to defer the Special Accommodation request, and the current Board’s delays place the Township in a very difficult and possibly expensive position.  Please look at at the Recent Post on this webpage titled “Possible ‘vision’ of what could be in store for Oakland Township” to see the fines imposed on a city in Missouri for discriminatory practices.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  If the Federal Investigation that is underway determines that the Township has performed discriminatory practices, the current Board will have to accept full responsibility for the actions that they have taken on this issue, and the Township may have to pay fines as a result of their actions.

Richard Michalski – Former Oakland Township Planning Commissioner for 26 years, and Chair for a number of them.

Newly Appointed Zoning Board Member “FOIA’s” Township Board Member

On August 13, John Markel was appointed as one of two new Zoning Board of Appeals members for Oakland Township.  He was Supervisor Gonser’s recommendation. The vote was 6 to 1 by our Township Board.  The one Township Board member that did not support his nomination, Judy Keyes, indicated she was against his nomination because she received input from citizens concerned about the content and tone of several of Mr. Markel’s  posts on the “Oakland Township-Lake Orion Patch” website.  The DAY AFTER HIS APPOINTMENT, the Markel’s submitted a Freedom of Information request asking for copies of any communications Judy Keyes received regarding his nomination.  I believe there are legal issues with one member of a community’s leadership FOIA’ing another member of the leadership.  Mr Markel’s behavior clearly demonstrates how he will act as a new Board member, and also places into question Supervisor Gonser’s judgement in recommending his appointment.

RIchard Michalski

Possible ‘vision’ of what could be in store for Oakland Township?

The Department of Justice release, dated August 1, 2013, may be an indication of what Oakland Township may be facing in the future.  Certainly not all the facts on either the St. Peters, MO situation or our own are known, but what is known it that the Government is taking action to “enforce civil rights laws that require State and Municipalities to end discrimination against and unnecessary segregation of persons with disabilities” caused by restrictive Zoning Ordinances.

Here is the the DOJ release:

Please note the city of St. Peters, MO was fined $80,000.

Richard Michalski