Is Oakland Township’s ‘soul’ at risk?

What follows is a letter I have written to the editor of the Oakland Patch.  It is in  response to a number of letters Francis P. Hughes has written and has had published.  I do not know if the editor will publish it, but because of the time sensitivity of an upcoming decision the Township Board must make, I am posting the letter here:

Letter to the Patch Editor,

Hi, my name is Richard Michalski.  I am writing this letter in response to several letters that Francis P. Hughes has written to you calling me (and others) “shills”.  I will refrain from making personal attacks but will ask for greater citizen involvement on a very critical issue facing Oakland Township.

Let me begin by saying that I am a 35 year resident of Oakland Township. I served on the Planning Commission for 26 years until 2008, when at my choosing I retired.  Earlier this year, there was an issue facing the Township that got me ‘re-engaged’ as an ‘active’ citizen.   Over the past several months I have witnessed a number of things that our Supervisor and Board have done that I believe are possibly illegal, but definitely contrary to some of the principles that have guided the Township in the past.

Arguably, the biggest issue facing our Township right now is the upcoming decision by our Board on whether to grant the Blossom Ridge Senior disabled development a “Special Accommodation Use”. The way Oakland Township has handled this development over the past 15 months is currently under review by the HUD and the DOJ for possible housing violations against a protected class of citizens. On December 10 there will be a public hearing on the Special Accommodation Use at the Township hall starting at 7 PM.

A fellow citizen of Oakland Township told me – “The outcome of the Blossom Ridge Special Accommodation Use decision places our Township’s “soul” at risk!”  What the person went on to say is that if Oakland Township does not approve the request, and the DOJ comes in and forces Oakland Township to provide the needed Senior Disabled housing for our residents, Oakland Township will become known as THE exclusionary community in South East Michigan, and possibly all of Michigan.

The developer and the Township have made attempts at a compromise that meets the demands of some of the residents.  On October 8th a revised plan was presented to the Board and the citizens.  The group of citizens present was not satisfied.  Mr. Hughes is part of the group that is opposed to the development.  He is now suggesting that the developer cut the number of units in half again.  He has referred to the development as “a huge Warehouse with cubbyhole sized apartments”. The developer reduced the number of proposed units from 342 to 282, then to 238, and now to 228.  Mr. Hughes suggests the right number is 126. He has no basis for selecting that number.

I would encourage the citizens of Oakland Township to come to the December 10th Board meeting to learn more about the proposed development, the legal implications of the Board’s decision and voice your opinion – one way or the other.  The Township’s “soul” may be at stake!

Richard Michalski

2 thoughts on “Is Oakland Township’s ‘soul’ at risk?

  1. Robert Yager

    We voted 71% to 29% against Blossom Ridge. If our “soul is at risk” it is a widespread problem. Does the will of the people mean nothing? I personally do not see it as a big problem if I have to move eventually to Rochester or Rochester Hills when if I don’t want to or can’t live in my current house. I’d probably prefer to be within walking distance of library, restaurants, etc. Where can I walk to from Blossom Ridge. I respect the opinion of those who must live next door to the proposed development and don’t want it. What the Federal Government thinks of us is not high on my priority list.

    Reply
    1. richardjmichalski Post author

      Hi Bob,
      I understand what you are saying. All I want the citizens of Oakland Township to understand are the ‘potential consequences’ for voting the SAU down. If that is what the citizens want to do, then we better understand what the consequences may be for such actions against a protected class of citizens. Several decades ago, the city of BIrmingham, Michigan was found guilty for discriminatory housing practices against another protected class of citizens, and paid a price for it. Will we be the same? Our attorney needs to let the citizens know how much risk we may be collectively taking. We will live with the consequences either way!

      Reply

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