On Jan 26th the Board of Trustees will discuss and invite public comment on the proposed consent judgment to settle the Blossom Ridge lawsuit. see our recent post on this topic
Dan Kelly has said that all the attorneys advising the township in this matter recommend approval of the proposal.
Attorneys recommending acceptance:
- Dan Kelly – Township Attorney
- Judge Barry Howard – Facilitator
- Dale Stuart – Township Manager
- Carol A. Rosatti – Attorney for the Township’s insurer
I urge the Board to follow the recommendations of the attorneys knowledgeable about this case and to be aware that the opinions of people that are not as knowlegable can contain errors about legal meanings.
A case in point: A letter from 18 residents contains legal fallacies
The board has received a letter from Eighteen individuals, all of whom live near the Blossom Ridge property, citing reasons that they are urging the board to reject the proposed agreement. They put forward a very important fallacy regarding legal precedence which they use many times in different forms and contexts. It is asserted by them that:
“The precedents established by this Consent Judgment”:
- “will essentially eliminate building size restrictions for future multi-family (R-M) high density developments”;
- (will have) “impact on future lawsuits”;
- (undermine) “the confidence of the Oakland Township electorate in the local government for future zoning decisions”;
- “will establish a new minimum lot size standard for multi-family (R-M) zoning”;
- “The precedent set by compromising the zoning ordinance standardwill make it more attractive for non-conforming future high density R-M development in the Township”;
- “will make it more attractive for non-conforming future high density R-M development in the Township”;
- “the Zoning Ordinance… needs to be defended and not weakened through this Consent Judgment”.
The fallacy of consent judgment precedence:
The problem with these arguments is that a consent judgment agreement between parties to a lawsuit does not establish legal precedence. Only published opinions of a judge’s decision in a trial establish precedence. In my 20 years on the Planning Commission and 12 years on the Zoning Board of Appeals I have never seen any alteration, reduction, weakening or compromising of our zoning ordinance by consent judgments. The language, meaning and effect of our ordinance have remained intact and in full force.
If the township loses, the Federal Court could force changes to our Zoning Ordinance:
This is a very real likelihood in that if this matter goes to trial and violations of the Fair Housing Act are found the Federal Court may order changes to our zoning ordinance to force compliance with the Fair Housing Act. That is when citizens will experience a loss of control.