Supervisor Gonser once again demonstrates his ignorance of the Planning Process

At the August 12, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting Supervisor Gonser made statements regarding the Planning Commission’s historical approval of developments in our Township.  He used his arguments to justify changes to the members on the Planning Commission.

At the September 2, 2014 Planning Commission meeting, Planning Commission Chairman, James Carter, challenged the accuracy of the Supervisor’s comments.  Carter demonstrated that Supervisor Gonser’s allegations are not true, and that Gonser does not understand the Planning Process.

During the discussions that occurred at the August 12 Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser made several negative comments about the current Planning Commission.  These comments were used to justify appointing three new members to the Planning Commision (in addition to the two relatively new members that they appointed previously).  The Planning Commission consists of seven members.  There are now only two experienced Commission members as they undertake revisions to our Township Master Plan.

Supervisor Gonser said:

“The Planning Commission never turned down a subdivision in this Township – not one.  Every subdivision that was proposed was approved.”

“Residents are treated very disrespectfully”

At the September 2 Planning Commission meeting, Chairman James Carter first explained that the Supervisor’s statements were not true, and they reflect the Supervisor’s lack of understanding of the Planning Process.  Carter went into a very good description of the Planning Process that clearly refutes the Supervisor’s claims. Please watch the attached video.

As a former Oakland Township Planning Commissioner for over 26 years, the Planning Process had never been a ‘political’ one.  We were required to ensure that any development that came before us met the  State and Local ordinances.  We listened to the citizens, but the laws and ordinances ‘trumped’ the opinions of the Planning Commissioners and the citizens.  If the Township Board wanted to reject a development for political reasons, that was their prerogative, not the Planning Commission’s.  Supervisor Gonser does not understand that, and wants to politicize the Planning Commission. He is doing so by his appointments to the Planning Commission.  If the decisions the Planning Commission makes are based on politics and not conformance to laws and ordinances,  the already high legal expenses (that Township is paying since the new Board came into power) will continue to climb.

Gonser’s accusation that the Planning Commission has treated the residents disrespectfully is far from factual.  Chair James Carter is the epitome of professionalism.  On the contrary, Gonser has demonstrated his lack of respect for citizens on many occasions.  Here are several examples:

  • His refusal to allow former Trustee Keyes to speak at a Board meeting – violating the Board’s bylaws.
  • His failure to talk to the two ZBA members (Phelps and Platz) he decided not to reappoint last year. These individuals found out about Gonser’s decision through chance encounters with others in the community.
  • A similar example this past month when he decided not to reappoint one of our firefighters to the ZBA (Charles Beach).  This individual is dedicated to our Township and puts his life on the line for our Township citizens.
  • His allowing some of his ‘supporters’ to speak for more than the 3 minute time limit defined in the by-laws.  ‘Adversaries’ are ‘hooked off’ at three minutes.
  • His initial refusal to allow Planning Chair, James Carter, to speak early at the August 12 Board meeting so Carter could go to the hospital to be with his family since his father-in-law was in the hospital ‘with his chest open’.

With these actions, Gonser’s accusations of the Planning Commission are hypocritical.

Here is a video of excerpts from the two meetings discussed above.  James Carter provides a very good description of the Planning Process.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The accusations made by Gonser reflect his lack of understanding of the Planning Process, yet he wants to provide ‘strategic direction’ to the Planning Commission. There are many more examples of his lack of knowledge in the links at the end of this post.

The Supervisor considers himself omniscient and omnipotent.  The other Staff members and Board members need to both ‘enlighten’ him and ‘control’ him, since he has demonstrated that he is neither.

His mistreatment of citizens proves the point:

Actions vs words icon


Richard Michalski

Here are some related links that were previously posted on this website:

Supervisor Gonser demonstrates his lack of sensitivity and professionalism

Supervisor Gonser violates Board Bylaws and Mrs. Keyes right to speak

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

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

Supervisor Gonser demonstrates his lack of knowledge of Oakland Township Zoning

Supervisor Gonser’s REAL views on trails, pathways, bike paths and environmental protection

Gonser hears from former Zoning Board of Appeals members

4 thoughts on “Supervisor Gonser once again demonstrates his ignorance of the Planning Process

  1. Robert Yager


    I think Gonser’s main point, that he made poorly, was that the Planning Commission significantly either misread or disregarded citizen opinion regarding both Harvest Corners and Blossom Ridge. I’d have to agree with that.

    Bob Yager

    1. foulkrj

      Bob, Thanks for your comment,
      It is very important for everyone to understand that the Planning Commission is created under the Michigan Planning Enabling Act and, in their duties and responsibilities, the Commission Members are bound to follow the law. Our property rights are defined by local ordinances, state and federal law. We all enjoy the right to do anything we desire to do with our property as long as we comply with all applicable law. Citizen opinions have great value in helping the Planning Commission understand all the aspects of a development plan that may call into question how it may or may not be in compliance with applicable law. For example the Blossom Ridge proposal brought out many citizen comments about potential unsafe traffic conditions which, if found to be predictably true using traffic engineering standards of analysis and prediction, would call for revisions of the development plans to mitigate those dangers so that the result would comply with applicable law. That did happen and alterations to entrances and traffic flow conditions were made until the dangers were mitigated. Some citizens did not believe that the engineering was correct but their opinions were insufficiently grounded in traffic engineering science to call for additional changes to the plan. Many other citizen concerns were raised, discussed and scrutinized by the Commission. In the end, the Planning Commission motion to recommend approval cited reasons why all of the thirty plus applicable legal requirements were met. There was a minority of dissenting votes on the motion but none of the arguments for those dissents cited any violation of legal requirements. So now, after the referendum, we face the Federal complaint alleging that our community is guilty of violations of Federal Fair Housing law. This, too, will be decided on the basis of law.

  2. richardjmichalski Post author

    Hi Bob,
    As I commented in the post, the Planning Commission is suppose to listen to the input from citizen’s. However, the Planning Commission must follow State, Federal and Township Laws and Ordinances. I believe the Planning Commission felt that if they rejected the plan (as it had been modified many times), they would not have been in compliance with the legal requirements.
    Yes, the voters have spoken on both plans in the referendums. However, the Department of Justice is still considering the Blossom Ridge issue. The legal system will provide further clarification on whether the Planning Commission (and previous Board) were right or wrong. You may recall that the Board solicited 4 or 5 legal opinions on the Blossom Ridge issue apparently before they found an attorney that told them what they wanted to hear.

    Gonser’s allegations about improper PC treatment of citizens is laughable, given how HE has treated many in our Township, including his neighbor.

    Thanks for you input!


  3. saveourtwp

    I did not go to any meetings before Gonser was made Supervisor. I can only go by what I have seen since the video taping of meetings. From what I see with my own eyes, Mr. Carter is most respectful to everyone in the room, even when he does not agree, and gives everyone a chance to be heard regardless. That has NOT been the case with Mr. Gonser. He is just as divisive and double speaking in his statements and actions as our President. Gonser has no respect for anyone, especially women. The country is now divided and so is the Twp. Gonser has no desire for harmony or community, just rhetoric and threats. I am afraid John Giannengeli’s conduct aligns much more with Gonser than it does Mr. Carter. Looking to what people did or said in the previous administration to use to place blame and judge with what is going on in our Twp today, doesn’t hold water and is not productive. We will never move ahead, just like Washington!


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