On March 28, 2017, the Oakland Township Board voted in a 6 to 1 vote (Treasurer Langlois was sole dissenting vote) to forward a revised copy of Oakland Township’s Draft Master plan to our surrounding communities for their input without discussing the changes they made with the Planning Commission members. This action raised concerns by a number of citizens who were at the meeting, or heard about the action after the meeting.
Here are some of the background facts:
- The Township’s Master plan is suppose to be reviewed and updated every 5 years.
- Per the Michigan Planning Enabling Act, the Township’s Planning Commission has the responsibility and authority for developing the Master Plan.
- Oakland Township’s Planning Commission has been working on the updated Master Plan for over 3 years. They have individually, and collectively, spent many hundreds of hours developing the plan.
- On January 3, 2017, the Oakland Township Planning Commission forwarded their Draft Master Plan to the Township Board for their consideration and distribution.
- The Michigan Planning Enabling Act allows the Township Board to ‘assert by resolution’ its right to ‘approve or reject’ the proposed Master Plan.
- On January 10, 2017 the Township Board approved a resolution that authorized them to ‘approve or reject’ the Master Plan developed by the Oakland Township Planning Commission.
- On March 20, 2017, the Township Board had a three hour Master Plan review workshop to review the Draft Master Plan.
- This meeting included the Township Manager and the Township Planning Coordinator.
- It did not include any of the Planning Commission members, other than John Giannangeli, who is a Board member and a Planning Commission member.
- It did not include the Township Planning Consultant who has been working with the Planning Commission on the Plan for several years.
- The meeting was not video taped or televised.
- There was only one resident present at the meeting, even though it had been posted.
- The Township Board made significant changes (primarily deletions) to the plan, and some additions to the plan.
- On March 28th, Treasurer Langlois made a motion to send the revised plan back to the Planning Commission for their consideration prior to distributing it to the surrounding communities for their input. The motion did not get support.
- The Board then approved a motion (6 to 1) to send the revised plan to surrounding communities without further feedback from either the Planning Commission or our Planning Consultant.
- The following is the normal process for final approval of the Master Plan:
- The Planning Commission refers the Draft Master Plan to the Board of Trustees.
- The Board, reviews, and takes formal action to send the Draft Plan to adjacent communities for comments.
- The Planning Commission will receive comments from adjacent communities.
- The Planning Commission holds a public hearing.
- The Planning Commission may address any comments received.
- The Planning Commission approves and refers the Plan to the Board for final adoption.
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? There are a number of issues with how the Township Board has handled this situation:
- The Board did not attempt to understand the logic the Planning Commissioners and the Planning Consultant used to include the items in the Draft Master Plan.
- Since the Planning Commission has been working on the revised Plan for over 3 years, their was no urgency for distributing the plan to surrounding communities prior to getting additional feedback from the Planning Commissioners and Planning Consultant.
- The Resolution the Board approved on January 10, allowed them to “approve or reject” the plan. It did not authorize them to unilaterally revise the plan.
- In the author’s opinion (having been on the Planning Commission for over 26 years), deletion of the specific ‘criteria’ that were in the plan will make it more difficult for the Township to defend against developers who want to ‘push the envelope’ in our community.
- Since the process allows for future public hearings, the Board’s deletion of many of the paragraphs will prevent robust discussion on those topics.
- The April 4th Planning Commission meeting had been cancelled (presumably due to lack of agenda items). That date could have been used to have a joint meeting with the Board to discuss the changes prior to it being sent out to other communities.
- Finally, their action reflects a lack of respect for the hard work that the Planning Commission members have spent on the document. Spending 3 hours in a meeting (even with additional pre-work for the meeting) cannot compare to the logic and thought process that was used in developing the Draft Plan by Planning Commission members over three years.
I hope the Board reconsiders and meets with the Planning Commission to discuss their desired changes.