At the July 31, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, the Township Board did not approve either of the two candidates that Supervisor Gonser brought forward for consideration for replacing Janine Saputo and James Carter on the Planning Commission. Saputo was the Planning Commission’s Secretary, and Carter was the Chairperson of the Commission. Their terms of appointment are up on September 1. The Supervisor refused to consider other applicants that the Board members felt were more qualified to meet the immediate needs of the Township.
The Supervisor indicated his selection of the nominees was based on gender diversity, where the nominees lived in the Township, and whether they lived on large parcels of property.
The reason the Board did not approve the two nominees was that the nominees did not have any Township experience in Zoning or Planning. The Board pointed out that with the previous changes to the Planning Commission, and other Planning personnel changes, the Township’s Planning experience has dropped below a critical level. One Trustee referred to the loss of expertise as a ‘hemorrhage’.
There were 13 residents that supported the Board’s position and their concern for the level of experience on the Planning Commission. There were only three individuals that supported Gonser’s position. One of the three was former Trustee Maureen Thalmann, who recently resigned from the Board. Another was Parks Commissioner Roger Schmidt, who is involved in a lawsuit against fellow Township’s Parks Commission members, and whose wife happened to be one of Gonser’s nominees.
Supervisor Gonser refused to nominate other individuals that had applied. Several of these do have Planning, Zoning, or Township subcommittee experience.
By State Law, only the Supervisor can nominate individuals for the Planning Commission. The Board has the authority to approve or reject his nominations.
When asked, the Township Attorney could not ‘shed any light’ on what procedurally will occur if the Supervisor does not appoint an acceptable candidate.
Here is a link to an Oakland Press article on the meeting:
Here is a video of the Board members’ comments:
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? As previously reported on this website, the level of experience on the Planning Commission is critical to preserving the character of Oakland Township.
The Planning Commission is currently faced with two significant challenges. One is consideration of a change to our Ordinance to limit oil and gas drilling in our Township to the fullest extent allowed by law, and the other is our new Master Plan. The Supervisor has already gone on record as not supporting any changes to our Ordinance to control oil and gas drilling in out Township. He also has repeatedly indicated he wants to change the Master Plan.
The Supervisor clearly wants to change the character of our Township. Continued vigilance is needed by the citizens to make sure he follows our wishes, not just his own political agenda.
A special thanks goes out to all of the citizens that came to the meeting on August 31. Your presence and comments give the Board the strength to act on your behalf,