Monthly Archives: April 2014

Did Supervisor Gonser try to mislead the citizens, or was he ignorant of the facts?

At the April 8th Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser stated:

“I am suggesting that the way it (Oakland Township) has been zoned does not preclude significant development. It is up to this Board to change that so it does not develop into Rochester Hills and Troy. RIght now, that is not necessarily true!”.  

This post compares zoning information for Oakland Township, Rochester Hills and Troy.  The facts demonstrate that Supervisor Gonser was wrong.  His inaccurate statement raise questions about his competence as our leader and what he envisions for our Township.

As stated above, Supervisor Gonser stated that Oakland Township could develop into a community like Rochester Hills or Troy due to our zoning ordinance.  A previous post shows his complete statement.  Trustee Bailey vigorously challenged the accuracy of Gonser’s statement.

In order to help inform the citizens of Oakland Township with the facts, zoning maps and a number of comparative charts have been created and shared here.

Here are the zoning maps for each of the three communities.  Please click on the maps to view a larger version of them.

Oakland Township –  please note:

  • Large portion of township dedicated to Parks and Recreational Conservation – (Green)
  • Large portion of township dedicated to residential (Shades of yellow and Orange as well as light blue) – especially Very Low Residential Density (VLRD)- (Light Yellow)
  • Low level of Business – (Red)
  • Low level of Office – (Pink)

Oakland Township Zoning

Rochester Hills – please note:

  • High level of Business and Commercial – (Pink, Red and Purple)
  • High level of Office Research and Technology – (Blue)
  • No Parks or Recreation Conservation zoning

Rochester Hills Zoning


Troy – please note:

  • High level of Business and Industrial (Red, Pink and Grey)
  • High level of Office (Blue)
  • Low level of Environmental Protection (Green)

Troy Zoning

The following chart shows the minimum lot size for each of the five single family residential districts in each of the three communities.  Oakland Township and Troy have different minimum lot sizes depending upon whether the land is serviced by sewers.  Rochester Hills does not differentiate minimum lot size based on sewer availability.  Please note that Oakland Township’s  minimum lot sizes are much larger than either Rochester Hills or Troy.  Here is the chart (click on chart to view enlarged version):

Minium lot size comparison

The chart clearly shows that Oakland Township has significantly larger minimum lot sizes than other communities.  This did not occur by accident.  Previous Planning Commissions and Township Boards established these levels in order to maintain the rural atmosphere of our Township while preserving the property rights of the land owners and wetlands.

Estimates were made on how much land in Oakland Township is in each of the our Zoning Districts.  The analysis indicates that approximately 44 % of the Township is zoned VLRD with a minimum lot size of almost 1.7 (with sewers) to 2.5 (w/o sewers) acres – hardly anything close to the density allowed in Rochester Hills or Troy.  Here is the graph showing the results of that analysis (click on graph to view enlarged version) :

Estimates of Percent Land in each OT zoning district

The data presented clearly demonstrates that Supervisor Gonser’s statement about our zoning is not only false, but extremely misleading.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser’s inaccurate statement indicates that his stated desire to change the Zoning in Oakland Township is not base on facts, but on some, yet undisclosed, concept or ideology.  The current Zoning of our Township was based on years of critical review by our citizens.  The Township Board and the Planning Commission have the power to change it dramatically.  Gonser and the Board have made appointments to fill the two Township Board vacancies and made new appointments to the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals with individuals with similar points of view as Gonser’s. They are ‘stacking the deck’ with extremists to further their ‘agenda’.  Citizens need to voice their opinions this fall when other appointed commission and board positions come up for appointments.  We need to encourage the Board members to understand the facts before making changes to our Zoning Map and Ordinance.

For related articles, please read:

Gonser’s desire to change zoning

Zoning Board of Appeals member John Markel’s comments on zoning

Gonser’s belief in a Global UN conspiracy in Oakland Township

Richard Michalski

Township Board appoints John Giannangeli to vacant Trustee seat. Will the real John Giannangeli please stand up?

At the April 22nd Township Board meeting, the Board unanimously appointed John Gianngelli to the vacant seat created by the resignation of Trustee McKay.  There were 15 potential candidates.  The motion for John’s nomination was made prior to any discussion by the Board on any candidate.  He is a member of Supervisor Gonser’s Friday ‘breakfast club’.

 John indicated on his application that he has “solid interpersonal skills” and is “open to other’s opinions “.  A video of his comments at a meeting held last summer show a different picture.  In his prepared speech at the April 22nd meeting, John indicated his support for ‘transparency’.  His emotional outburst  challenging the video taping of the earlier meeting paints a different picture.  

The Board appeared to have their mind made up going into the meeting.  John’s addition to the Board increases the potential of Supervisor Gonser’s ‘vision’ of Oakland Township being implemented.

There were a total of 15 candidates considered for the position.  At the April 22nd meeting, Trustee Thalmann quickly nominated one candidate, John Giannangeli. Trustee Langlois seconded the motion.  Trustee Bailey suggested that the Board hear from the candidates present prior to taking a vote.  Gonser left it up to the Board.  The Board then heard from the candidates who were present. John Giannangeli was the only one who gave a prepared speech.  They then opened it up for citizen comments.  Here are excepts from the meeting proceedings:

Supervisor Gonser has a ‘breakfast club’ that meets on Fridays.  Many of these individuals have regularly commented at Board meeting on topics supporting Supervisor Gonser’s position.  John Giannangeli acknowledged that he participates in these meetings “to keep up on what’s really going on (in the Township)”.

On John Giannangeli’s application, he claimed “solid interpersonal skills” and is “open to other’s opinions ” as character traits.  At a meeting last summer, John Giannangeli demonstrated a dramatically different side of his character.  He made a very angry outburst against the author of this post because I was video taping the meeting. I was taping the meeting since it was not being video taped by CMNtv.  Here is that outburst from Mr. Giannangeli:

John may claim his outburst comment was taken out of context. If he does, I am more than willing to post the entire video of the meeting.  He may claim his outburst is only a single incident.  If he does, I am more than willing to post other emotional outbursts from various previous meetings.

Stress often brings out an individual’s true character.  John’s spontaneous comments are far more telling of his character than the written prepared speech he gave at the April 22nd meeting.  Please contrast ‘the scripted’ version of John in the first video with the ‘unscripted’ version of John in the second video to form your opinion if he is the right person for our Township Board.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The appointment of Mr. Giannangeli is another ‘chess move’ by Supervisor Gonser to dramatically change the physical character of Oakland Township by making appointments of individuals with similar “Tea Party” ideologies. Please go to these related previous posts:

Gonser’s lack of knowledge of our Township’s Zoning

Zoning Board of appeals member John Markel’s comments on Zoning

Gonser’s Tea Party belief in a UN Global conspiracy

Richard Michalski

Zoning? – Gonser Doesn’t Understand our Master Plan Either.

As Dick Michalski recently pointed out   Supervisor Gonser demonstrated the lack of depth of his understanding of Oakland Township’s land development laws and guidelines when he said “Right now, the zoning is set up to develop Oakland Township just like Rochester Hills and Troy.”.

This could hardly be farther from the truth. Over the coming weeks we will post a number of facts about our Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance so that our readers are better equipped to evaluate Gonser’s statement.

In this post I am going to dispute his statement by writing about how just one single aspect of our Master Plan makes our township very different from Rochester Hills and Troy.  Our current Future Land Use Plan (Chapter 12 of the Master Plan) is one of the most important parts of our Master Plan.  The Future Land Use Plan divides the township into six Conservation Districts.  These Districts restrict the number of acres that may be developed versus how many acres should be preserved. More than 60% of the land in the Township (14,259 acres or 22 square miles ) is classified in  two of these Districts:

District # Acres in District # acres preserved vs. developed

This is serious preservation vs. development control! 
The lands that are classified this way are generally north of Buell Road and the Master Plan says to develop here you will need to leave a lot more land untouched than you disturb.  

The Planning Commission will be able to work with these District level guidelines in a variety of ways ranging from:

  1. strictly applying the preservation ratios on a project by project basis;
  2. or looking at the ratio across the entire District;
  3. or a combination of both.

Our Natural Resource Conservation District ( 10 to 1 preservation ratio) already includes Bald Mountain Park, some of Addison Oaks and some Township Parkland so, taken on a District level, the 10 to 1 ratio would not be as restrictive as it sounds. Subtracting some or all of this already preserved acreage and protected wetlands from the 7,823 acres in that District would yield a much more feasible ratio to apply to individual development projects.

You can be sure that Supervisor Gonser did not find guidelines like these in the Rochester Hills and Troy Master Plans.

Our current zoning ordinance is inextricably linked to our Master Plan’s requirements.  The Master Plan is mentioned 17 times in the zoning ordinance with language like “in accordance with”, “consistent with” and “in keeping with the policy objectives of”.  So the master plan cannot be ignored.

There are many parts of the Master Plan that will, if taken seriously by the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees,  continue to create an exceptional community where attractive neighborhoods harmonize with carefully preserved natural beauty.

Does Supervisor Gonser plan to respect and follow the Master Plan?

  • He has removed every sitting Planning Commissioner and Zoning Board of Appeals member who’s term was up for renewal and replaced them with his campaign contributors.
  • When filling Trustee vacancies, he has ignored experienced applicants who have served the Township and, most recently, resisted the Board of Trustees desire to publicize the vacancy to give the citizens a good opportunity to apply.  He just wanted to appoint another one of his cronies.
  • His new handpicked Township Manager has said that the Master Plan needs to be changed to reflect the needs of developers.
  • What did he mean when he said in  email and publicly  that United Nations Agenda 21 initiatives are having a significant impact on the Township. That our ordinances are already full of Agenda 21 initiatives…  It has to do with environmental mischief that is going on in the Township… The overriding umbrella of Agenda 21 it is to eliminate the automobile, to eliminate all sorts of motorized transportation except mass transit and have heavy emphasis on bicycles?   Does this strike you as respect for our environmental and zoning ordinances and our Master Plan?

What will be the future of our Township if Supervisor Gonser gets his way and changes the Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance to somehow agree with this radical ideology?

Jim Foulkrod  – former Planning Commissioner (20 years)

Supervisor Gonser demonstrates his lack of knowledge of Oakland Township Zoning

At the April 8th Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser commented on the current zoning of Oakland Township.  He commented that Oakland Township Zoning not only drove the agricultural businesses out of the Township, but that it allows Oakland Township to be developed like Rochester Hills and Troy.   Supervisor Gonser indicated that the Board needs to ‘change the zoning so it does not develop into Rochester Hill and Troy’.  Trustee Bailey, who was on the Township Planning Commission for many years, corrected Gonser’s mis-statements. 

During the April 8th Township Board meeting discussion about the Rochester Cider Mill, Supervisor Gonser made comments about the existing zoning in Oakland Township.  He stated that the zoning that has been in place for many years has caused the agricultural uses to disappear in our Township.  He went on to say:

“Right now, the zoning is set up to develop Oakland Township just like Rochester Hills and Troy.”

Trustee Bailey challenged Gonser’s comment as not being factual.

Gonser continued by saying:

“I am suggesting that the way it has been zoned does not preclude significant development.  It is up to this Board to change that so it does not develop into Rochester Hills and Troy.  RIght now, that is not necessarily true!”

Trustee Bailey responded by saying

“I beg to differ.  I looked at the Master Plan and it does not resemble Rochester Hills.”

For Gonser to suggest that it would have been better for the Township to not have rezoned the land from Agricultural to Residential, when the inevitable growth was coming, is irrational and quite frankly poor planning. Developers could have bought the land and then asked for all kinds of zoning.  That is precisely why Rochester Hills and Troy are the way they are.

One need only drive down Rochester Road from Oakland Township and witness the dramatic change in land usage as you travel South.  The prior Township Boards and Planning Commissions have provided our Township a great service by protecting our Township’s natural beauty through the existing zoning and Master Plan.

Attached are copies of the Zoning maps for Oakland Township, Rochester Hills and Troy.  Supervisor Gonser needs to take a close look at these to recognize that what he said is not true.

Oakland Township Zoning map

Rochester Hills Zoning Map

Troy Zoning map

Here is a video of the discussions at the April 8th meeting:

Why is this important to Oakland Township residents?  Supervisor Gonser clearly has intentions of changing the zoning.  As he has opportunities to place people, with like thinking, on the Planning Commission and the open position on the Board, he may have enough support from his followers that inappropriate changes will be made.  The citizens of Oakland Township need to understand what his zoning intentions are.  He needs to exhibit the transparency that he speaks so often about and share his vision of the zoning changes he wants to see.

Richard Michalski

Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann attempt to ‘steamroll in’ a replacement Trustee appointment

At the April 8th Oakland Township Board meeting, Trustee McKay officially announced her resignation from the Board.  At the same meeting, Supervisor Gonser, with the help of Trustee Thalmann, attempted to push through a person to fill Trustee McKay’s position.  Trustee Thalmann made the motion to nominate Gonser’s recommended candidate.  Gonser seconded it.  The other Board members, as well as several citizens, did not believe that there was adequate publicity regarding the opening to make sure all interested candidates submitted their application.  Fortunately, the Board voted to delay any appointment for two weeks so more Township residents would be aware of the open position and submit applications.  Trustees Buxar, Bailey and Treasurer Langlois voted to defer any appointment for two weeks.  Trustee McKay abstained.

As stated above, at the April 8th Board meeting, Trustee McKay officially announced her resignation that would take place at the end of that meeting. She informally announced that she would be resigning two weeks earlier at the March 25th Board meeting.  Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann proceeded to nominate the only person that had submitted an application for that position (one other candidate withdrew his application).  The Board has 45 days after the formal resignation to fill the position before the County steps in and fills it.  Gonser’s nominee, Anthony Scaccia is a builder and a real estate agent.

Several citizens expressed their concerns over the lack of public knowledge about the open position.  Fortunately, all of the Board members, with the exception of Gonser and Thalmann, agreed that more time was necessary for, as one resident requested, a “clarion call” to be made to identify more potential candidates for the position.

During the discussion, Supervisor Gonser referred to the previous appointment of Trustee Buxar.  Even though there were nine candidates that had applied for that position, he said:

“No one else (besides Buxar) was vetted”

Robin Buxar appears to be doing a very good job as a Trustee, so there is not an issue with her.  However, by Gonser’s acknowledgment, it is clear that he will make his nomination based on his personal preferences not looking objectively at ALL the viable candidates.

Trustee Thalmann questioned whether the previous vacancy was published in the Rochester Post.  Both she and Gonser appeared to question whether posting it in the newspaper was/is appropriate.  This from the two Board members that continue to bring up the transparency the current Board has put in place.

Here is a video of the Board proceedings on this matter:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser has the authority to nominate a candidate to fill the position.  The candidate must be approved by the full Board. The choice he makes can have a lasting impact on our Township.  He has stated that Planning Commission candidates must be familiar with the alleged United Nations “Agenda 21” conspiracy that is espoused by the Tea Party.  November 25 2012 Gonser email – Planning Commissioners should understand Agenda 21  Presumably he is using that as a litmus test for his Trustee appointment.  Due to the recent apparent ‘split’ in the Board, if Gonser has his way, he will add another person to ‘steamroll in’ his agenda in our Township.

The citizens of Oakland Township need to hold the entire Board accountable for selecting the most qualified person for this position. IF INTERESTED IN THE POSITION, PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION TO THE TOWNSHIP OFFICE.

Richard Michalski

Park’s Commission Treasurer Roger Schmidt violates his oath of office

At the February 25, 2013 Oakland Township Board meeting, Parks and Recreation Commission Treasurer Roger Schmidt complained about how he and the other newly elected commissioners were constantly being outvoted.  He went on to accuse the Parks Commission for using the Land Preservation Fund as a ‘slush fund’.  At the March 12 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, he tried to explain his ‘slush fund’ comments.  He concluded by saying:

“There are some things I’m sure that if the residents knew it was being used for they wouldn’t approve of that.”

Treasurer Schmidt never gave supporting facts for his accusations.

As the Treasurer of the Parks Commission, it is his responsibility, along with the other members of the Parks Commission, to make sure the funds are used properly.  By his admission that he believes the fund is not being used properly, and has never identified the “things” he infers, he has failed to follow his oath of office.  He had challenged the spending of $250 for the taxidermy of an owl from the land preservation fund, but he challenged it AFTER he had already approved it!  The use of fund money for that project had been explained and justified. His actions (or inactions if his allegations are true) are grounds for a recall.  His behavior has been a dereliction of duties.

Why would an elected official make these accusations without providing the facts to support them?   He and others have filed a complaint against other Commission members that Open Meeting Act violations may have occurred.  That issue surely will be sorted out in the legal system.  He accuses the other Commission members of ‘attacking our character’, again without providing factual examples.  His unsubstantiated accusations are outside the bounds of what Oakland Township citizens should find acceptable.

Here are videos of his comments from the two meetings mentioned above.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The Treasurer of an elected Board has the legal responsibility to challenge anything he/she finds inappropriate regarding expenditures.  To make accusatory comments, without the supporting facts, is inappropriate, and rapidly becoming the ‘new reality’ in Oakland Township.  Please get involved in making sure our elected officials perform their duties and not make false accusations.

Richard Michalski

Board Correctly Restrains Gonser and Thalmann on Rochester Cider Mill

At the April 8, 2014 Board of Trustees meeting a large number of citizens spoke their minds about the request to allow the Rochester Cider Mill to be developed to include a winery, a brewery, a public tasting facility and retail selling of wine and beer.  The speakers were divided in their opinions pro and con and no single point of view dominated.  While no one spoke against the cider mill itself, residents close to the property were concerned about traffic safety, alcohol consumption, the smell of the beverage manufacturing and property values.  Those in favor spoke of the need to support the business, the history of six generations of the Barkham family in Oakland Township (they own the property) and the 80 year history of the cider mill. This proposal has not been reviewed by the Planning Commission, Township Planner or the Township Engineer because the Board is being asked to change the court ordered consent judgment that has allowed the property to be used as a cider mill during the normal apple cider season.  The Board has the power to do this on their own without help and consultation. Supervisor Gonser clearly was ready to see it approved with no further information.   Treasurer Langlois and Trustees Bailey, Buxar and McKay voted to table the decision until they could get an opinion from some of the professionals.  We should thank them for that.  Gonser and Thalmann were, again, in the minority with their “No” votes.

Quality development requires planning and engineering.  It requires contractual obligations from the developer that the end product will not create:

  • unsafe traffic conditions;
  • unmanaged water flows onto the road or adjacent properties;
  • inadequate parking that will cause congestion and turmoil;
  • nuisance levels of noise, smells, pollution or light;
  • unacceptable incursion upon neighbors;

Our Board of Trustees are the only ones with the opportunity to ensure that this becomes a quality development and a proper gateway to Oakland Township.

Jim Foulkrod,   former Planning Commissioner


Trustee Thalmann accuses fellow Board members of agreements outside Public Meeting

At the March 18th Oakland Township Board budget workshop, Trustee Thalmann accused other Board members of meeting with the Township Manager outside an open meeting and agreeing upon changes to the Budget Proposal.  Those accusations proved to be false.  Trustee Thalmann and Supervisor Gonser’s  “minority position” on a number of recent issues appears to be causing strife between the Board members. 

At the March 11th Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser requested that each Board member meet with the Township manager to answer any questions they may have of the proposed budget, and express any concerns related to any line items.  These meetings were intended to consolidate issues that each Board member had, and would then be discussed at the March 18th Budget workshop.

At the March 18th meeting, Trustee Thalmann stated she was sent an email over the weekend indicating that meetings between Board members and the Township Manager were taking place, and that decisions were being made without her. She stated:

“A majority (of the Board) had agreed about changes to the Budget.”

She went on to say:

“What I learned from this was that my vote is worthless.”

She argued that she was not given an opportunity to provide input into what she believed to have been decisions made on the Budget.  She continued by saying:

“I think the Supervisor and I are reasonable!”

One of the Board members asked her where she was getting her information.  She responded by saying it was in an email she received on Sunday night. Several of the Board members indicated they had not received any email.  Thalmann then responded by saying:

“I assumed it went to everybody”

Treasurer Langlois stated:

” I did not ask Ann (Capella) to change the Budget…….There can’t be changes without an agreement of the Board!”

Gonser stated:

“I think there were perceptions that those discussions were held.”

Here is a video of the discussion at that meeting:

Editorial Comment: Trustee Thalmann’s accusations were unfounded.  The Board was doing precisely what had been requested of them. By her comment, “I think the Supervisor and I are reasonable”, the accusations appear to be based on the fact that several recent Board decisions had Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann in the minority position.  Her vote on those issues, although not “worthless”, did not have any impact on the decision.  Her comments at this meeting, and her incessant attacks on the Parks and Recreation Commission indicate a paranoid, childish and vindictive approach to her leadership style.  “Nixonian” might be an appropriate term for it.  Please watch the above video to form your own opinion!

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Oakland Township’s leadership must be objective.  Decisions must be based on facts, not emotions or ideology.  Trustee Thalmann’s repeated emotional outbursts raise serious questions as to whether she is the type of leader we deserve.

Richard Michalski

Character of Oakland Township would change dramatically if Zoning Board of Appeals member has his way

At the March 25th Oakland Township Board meeting, John Markel, one of Supervisor Gonser’s recommended Zoning Board of Appeals members, expressed his vision of what our Township Zoning should be.  If what he envisions ever  got approved by the Planning Commission and the Township Board, the character of our Township would change dramatically.

One agenda item on the March 25th Oakland Township Board meeting was a discussion about modifying the previous Court Order limiting the type of commercial use allowed at the Rochester Cider Mill on Rochester Road. There were people their who supported the changes, and some who did not.

John Markel, one of our Township Zoning Board of Appeals members who was nominated by Supervisor Gonser, without being acknowledged by Supervisor Gonser for ‘having the floor’, made comments indicating that he believes the zoning in our Township needs to be changed.

Here is a video of his comments:

John Markel appears to believe that the Township’s existing zoning map is not in line with the desires of our residents.  Oakland Township has been very meticulous in determining what type of development the citizens desire in Oakland Township. The current Zoning reflects their desires.

The Rochester corridor in Oakland Township is zoned primarily residential, unlike further South in Rochester.  Any land owner may request a “special land use” for their property, but those usages are strictly controlled in our Zoning Ordinances.  The applicant must endure intense reviews of their plans before the Planning Commission and the Township Board approve it.  This rigorous process ensures that nearby residents’ interests are protected. Wholesale changes in zoning of the property along Rochester or Orion Roads, to more intense usages, as John Markel is suggesting, would have a significant impact on the character of our Township.

Oakland Township could benefit if the Rochester Cider Mill became a ‘destination point’ for those interested in visiting our Township. This may happen if an agreement between the Township Board, the nearby residents and the property owner can be worked out.  However, care must be taken to ensure that future owners of the property are not allowed to use it for things that the adjacent homeowners find objectionable.

John Markel’s suggestion to significantly rezone our Township is not only frightening, but totally inappropriate.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser recommended John Markel as a new Zoning Board member in the fall of 2013.  As other re-appointments come up during our current Board’s tenure, one would expect Gonser to continue to put forward candidates that share both his and John Markel’s land use beliefs.  If this occurs, the character of our Township will change dramatically.  Citizens need to be prepared to provide input when those positions come up for re-appointments.

Richard Michalski- Former Planning Commission member for 26 years