Author Archives: richardjmichalski

Oakland Township Water Iron Removal Workshop

As residents of Oakland Township, many of us are familiar with the issues related to the iron content in our public and private well water.  For the residents on public wells, the Township Board is considering whether a centralized iron removal treatment system should be part of the enhancements for the public wells.  The survey results from residents on public wells were mixed as to whether the residents wanted to have the iron removal feature added.  A centralized treatment would involve capital expense, as well as an operational expense, both of which would be responsibility of the residents on the public well systems.

There are iron removal options that individual homeowners have for private treatment of their water, regardless of whether it is from a private or public well.  These options will be discussed at a workshop that the Township is sponsoring.  Here is the information on the workshop:

  • Water Iron Removal Workshop
  • August 22, 2018
  • 7 PM
  • Location – Delta Kelly school located at Adams and Gunn Roads.

This meeting will provide information that could be of benefit to residents on either private or public wells.

The following two items give more information on this workshop.  It is from Township documentation that is not readily visible on their website:

Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 9.57.26 PM

Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 9.58.18 PM

Hopefully, the Township office will make this information more visible on the official Township Website.  Please mark your calendars and attend if you are interested in options available to you for improving your water quality.

Richard Michalski

Planning Commission hears residents’ input on Draft Zoning Ordinance and makes changes

At the November 7, 2017 Oakland Township Planning Commission meeting, the Commission heard public comment on a number of sections of the Draft Zoning Ordinance.  The sections reviewed were the areas some citizens raised concerns at previous Township Board meetings.  After hearing citizen input, and considerable discussion by the Commission members, several changes were made to the Draft Zoning Ordinance.  The revised Draft Ordinance will now be forwarded to the Township Board for their review and approval.

The Planning Commission reviewed 8 specific areas of the Draft Zoning Ordinance based on concerns raised by citizens at the Township Board’s ‘readings’ of the proposed document.  There were many comments made by citizens indicating they did not understand the content of the ordinance.  These items were clarified by the Planning Commissioners, our Planning Consultant and our township Attorney.

Here are the sections that were reviewed and the changes made:

16-11 Penalties for Violation

Change – The penalty for zoning violations was changed from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction, with the  request that the Township Board develop the criteria that would be used to raise a violation from a civil infraction to a misdemeanor.  An example of this might be repeated violations by a home owner.

16-303B Location of Accessory Buildings

No change

16-306 Animals

Change – The maximum weight of a class 1 animal, such as a dog, was eliminated.  The previous maximum weight was 150 pounds.

Change  – The minimum lot size allowed for having class 3 animals, such as rabbits and chickens, was lowered from 2 acres to 1.75 acres.

16-212E Dwelling Standard

No change

16-323 Home Based Businesses

No change.  It was pointed out that the proposed ordinance is much less restrictive than the current zoning ordinance.

16-331 Outdoor storage

No change

16-343 Test Plans

Change – The lots shown in a developer’s ‘test plan’ must be 5000 square feet of contiguous area.

Change – Eliminates the ability to default to a higher density lot count in the developer’s ‘test plan’ if a parcel is shown be in two different zoning districts.

16-505 Bed and Breakfast

No change

The draft zoning Ordinance as it was prior to the November 7th Planning Commission meeting can be reviewed by clicking on the following link:

Draft Zoning Ordinance (prior to proposed changes discussed above)

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The actions of the Township Board and the Planning Commission demonstrate that the Township’s leadership is committed to listening to, and responding to, the issues raised by our citizens.  During the November 7th meeting, the citizens present applauded the recommended changes.  There were a few citizens present who wanted to eliminate many of the current zoning ordinance restrictions.  The Township residents will all benefit from the Planning Commission’s patience and hard work in developing the revised draft Ordinance.  The ball is now back in the Township Board’s lap.  The first reading will probably take place at the December Board meeting, with the second reading occurring at the first meeting in January.

Richard Michalski

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will Township Board approve Iron removal treatment facilities to two water systems in Oakland Township?

If you live in one of two regions in Oakland Township that are serviced by a community water system, the Township Board will be making decisions that will impact your water bills in the future.  You may have responded to a Water System survey that had been sent to you in the past.  The survey results are in.  The Board will be making their final decisions based on the results of the survey and any further input they receive from impacted citizens.

At the October 24, 2017 Oakland Township Board meeting, a representative from the Oakland County Water Resource Commission (WRC) presented the results of a survey requested by the Board regarding issues pertaining to two water supply systems in Oakland Township.  The two issues the Board was hoping to get citizen input on were:

  • The location of the required water storage facility for each of the two systems, and
  • Whether the citizens, serviced by those systems, wanted to add, and pay for at approximately $400 per year, a centralized iron removal system.

The results of the survey indicate that the majority of the citizens who responded are not supportive of adding the centralized iron removal system, although a minority of respondees indicated they had severe iron issues. They also indicated they wanted the water storage facilities to be as hidden as possible, and as low in cost as possible.

The Township Board unanimously approved a motion to have the WRC undergo an engineering study to determine the possible locations for the water storage facilities. The locations are to be large enough to allow for the possible addition of iron removal facilities.

The Board did not take action on the iron removal treatment issue. There was some concern expressed by at least one Board member that, even though the response to the survey was high (32% & 38%) based on typical survey results , he wanted the survey results to be more visible to the impacted residents before making a decision.  No official action was taken by the Board on this issue.  It will certainly be discussed at future Board meetings.

In order to help communicate the results of the survey, I have attached the following images.  As previously stated, there are two regions impacted by these decisions.  A map and survey results are shown for each.  They are only the highest level findings from the survey:

(CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

The following map shows all the community well systems in Oakland Township.  This map, along with the ones shown above, may provide a better understanding of the areas that will be impacted by the Board’s decision.

If any citizens want to review the entire survey results , please click on the following link and review pages pages 30 through 116 .  If you want to provide input to the Township Board, either send them a letter with your thoughts on this issue, or watch for this topic on future Board agenda’s and attend the meeting to provide your input.

October 24, 2017 Board Meeting Packet

Richard Michalski

Summary of October 10, 2017 Oakland Township Board meeting

At the October 10, 2017 Oakland Township Board meeting, the board voted, in a 6 to 1 vote, to send the draft Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance 16) back to the Planning Commission to  consider the comments made by citizen’s during several previous meetings.  Trustee Mangiapani was the sole dissenting vote.

The Board listed the areas of the draft zoning ordinance they wanted the Planning Commission to revisit.  The Board did not provide input whether they thought anything needed to be changed, or how it should change.  The Planning Commission is not obligated to restrict their re-review to those areas.  However, it was clear that the Board was not looking for wholesale changes to the draft Ordinance.

Here are the areas the Board asked the Planning Commission to revisit:

  • 303 B- Location of accessory buildings
  • 306 D3- Class 3 animals
  • 312 E – Minimum Floor space
  • 331 – Outdoor storage
  • 111 – Penalties for violation
  • 343 – Test Plan
  • 505 – Bed and Breakfast
  • 323 – Home based business

Here is a link to the draft Zoning Ordinance:

Draft Ordinance 16 – Zoning Ordinance

During the public comment portion of the October 10th discussion, several residents continued to argue that the Ordinance was an infringement of their property rights.  One individual was upset when he read the limits of the lot sizes that were permitted.  He apparently had purchased the property with the intent to divide it.  He argued that the draft ordinance would reduce the value of his property.  It turns out that the lot size restriction that is in the Draft Ordinance has been in the EXISTING Ordinance for over 40 years, long before when he purchased his property. This is just one example of how incorrect, or false statements, impact the objective understanding of the Zoning Ordinance.

A letter from Libby Dwyer, one of our residents, does a very good job explaining the benefits of having a good Zoning Ordinance.  Here is the letter that was read at the October 10th meeting:

“My husband and I live on 10 acres at 1234 Lake George Road in the northern section of the township. We are surrounded by acres of open land. This is both a blessing and a curse because while we enjoy the privacy and freedom of our seclusion, the future development of our neighbor’s vacant property is unknown. That is why we are grateful for a definitive zoning ordinance. 
I can’t speak for the southern part of the township but around here folks enjoy hunting, fishing, trapping, target shooting, snowmobiling, horseback riding and much more. Some of us raise crops and keep poultry, goats, cattle, sheep and horses. The ordinances that govern these activities are important. They ensure the safety of people and animals and set standards so that the habits of one neighbor does not adversely effect the property value of another.
The concerns that some citizens have expressed regarding government overreach through our ordinances seems over-reactionary to me. In my experience, the zoning officers in Oakland Township, especially in the past 8 years, don’t go driving around looking for things to write up. I assume that they have better things to do.
Take a short drive north into other townships “in the country” and you can see the downfalls of what happens when there are poorly defined zoning laws &/or a lack of enforcement. Living in the country looses its charm when your neighbor has broken and rusted equipment and falling-down buildings.  Or, visit the communities adjacent to our Township to see the effects of urban sprawl and loss of open spaces and rural atmosphere. This is why I am proud to live in Oakland township. It is a community that has an excellent reputation for ensuring reasonable growth through thoughtful and appropriate planning. I applaud the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees for their efforts and diligence in this process.
Best Regards,
Libby Dwyer”
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  There may be some valid Zoning issues raised by citizens during the discussions regarding the Draft Ordinance.  The Board has properly directed the Planning Commission to look at those areas.  A  ‘melt and re-pour’approach, that some residents are recommending, is not in the best interest of our Township. Years of experience and resident input has gone into the evolving document.  As one proponent of a massive change to the Ordinance stated:

“As long as we have wonderful neighbors” there is no need for ordinances!

She may have ‘wonderful’ neighbors now, and in the future, but there is no guarantee that she, nor any other Oakland Township resident, will always have wonderfull neighbors.

Hence the need for a good zoning ordinance!

The next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for WEDNESDAY, November 8, 2017 at 7PM.  The location is the Township Hall on Collins Road.

Richard Michalski

Reminder: “Down of the Farm” event this Saturday

Reminder – October 7th “Down on the Farm”

Please join the fun on Saturday October 7th for the “Down on the Farm” event planned by the Oakland Township Historical District Commission.  The festivities will take place at the Cranberry Lake Farm located on 388 West Predmore from 11 AM to 2 PM.

Here is more information on the event (click on image to enlarge)::

Richard Michalski

Township Board hears input from citizens on Draft Zoning Ordinance 16

The Oakland Township Board did not approve the Draft Zoning Ordinance at their September 26, 2017 meeting.

The current Zoning Ordinance was originally approved in 1976.  It has been modified many times through the years.  That Ordinance has played a key role in defining the character of Oakland Township. The Draft Ordinance was intended to include revisions in State Law as well as providing an opportunity for citizen input.

During the last three Township Board meetings (Aug 22, Sept 12 and Sept 26, 2017),  the Board heard input from citizens regarding the Draft Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance 16) that the Planning commission had recently approved. The Planning Commissions under three Township Administrations had been working on the document for over 6 year.  There has already been significant citizen input in the document.  This ordinance requires the Township Board’s approval before it is official.  The Draft Ordinance was on the agenda for the August 22 and September 26th Board meetings.

The ‘first reading’ of the Ordinance occurred on August 22nd.  There was very little input from citizens.  At the September 12th Board meeting, as well as during the ‘second reading’  on September 26,  there was quite a bit of input from citizens.

As a result of the input from citizens, the Board did not approve the Draft Ordinance as it is. They will probably be discussing the ‘next steps’ at the October 10th meeting.  Hopefully, the Board will provide their input to the Planning Commission regarding the issues raised by the citizens.

Here is a summary of the concerns raised by the citizens at the meetings.  Most of these issues had been discussed at previous Planning Commission meetings and at the public workshops that the Board held with the Planning Commission.  Some of these  are not true, but they were raised by the citizens as issues and should be addressed at subsequent meetings.

Definitions Section 16-200 to 227

  • ‘Grandfathered use’ (no definition)
  • ‘Rubbish’ (too vague)
  • ‘Nuisance’ (no definition in ‘Definition’ section, but too vague as defined in Section 16-306F)
  • ‘Goods sold in home’ (no definition)

Home Occupation – Section 16-323

  • Believed publishing home business phone number on Facebook, or phone book, was not allowed (this is not true)
  • Prevents publishing address of home business on Facebook or phone book
  • Wording related to preventing people picking up product at their home

Bed and Breakfast – Section 16-505

  • Do not see need to establish minimum room size of 120 square feet for sleeping area of Bed and Breakfast facility

Enforcement of OrdinanceSection 16-110 & 16-111

  • Enforced on complaint basis only– not uniformly enforced
  • Penalty is misdemeanor not civil infraction
  • Others that ‘participate, assist or maintain violation’ are also liable
  • Concern over individual having been jailed for violation in past
  • Concern over process to document the existing ‘grandfathered’ or non-conforming situations

AnimalsSections 16-202A & 16-306

  • 2 acre limits for small animals (chickens and rabbits) is too restrictive – want .5 acre
  • 150 pound limit for domestic animals is too restrictive for some large dogs

Test PlanSection 16-343

  • Test plan definition allows for counting non-buildable land in establishing allowed density count

Cell towerSection 16-416

  • Wording is too restrictive and prevents owners from having cell towers on their property

Home sizeSection 16-312

  • Minimum home size of 1200 square feet is too restrictive – should be able to build smaller homes

Assisted Living facility for elderlySection 16-408

  • 10 acre requirement is too restrictive – should be less

Change in parcel size on gravel roadSection 16-403

  • Questioned whether Ordinance was made less restrictive by allowing 2.3 acre lots with 200 ft. road frontage vs. what was believed to be previous 5 acre on 350 ft. road frontage

 

In addition to the specific issues raised by citizens, several individuals expressed concerns that the proposed Ordinance was an infringement of their property rights.  Here are some of the statements made by these individuals:

  • The Document is too large – it should be no more than 50 pages
  • Large acreage parcels should not have restrictions like subdivisions
  • Let the subdivision owner’s control their property through their deed restrictions
  • “As long as we have wonderful neighbors” no need for ordinances
  • Ordinance has contributed to ‘overdevelopment’ of Township

 

In response to those concerns, having been on the Planning Commission of Oakland Township for over 26 years, I made the following points at the September 26th meeting:

  • The current Ordinance was approved in 1976 and updated many times
    • It has been modified through the years based on citizen input and State Laws
    • The Draft Ordinance is less restrictive in many areas than the current Ordinance
  • Contrary to comment made by our former supervisor, the effectiveness of an ordinance is not measured by number of pages, but by its impact on the community.
    • People like Oakland Township because of “what we are”.
    • We “are what we are” because of 40 years of good ordinances
  • The Draft Ordinance has been under development for well over 5 years
    • Input has been received from many citizens over that time
    • The Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) participated in review of changes and provided input
    • The ZBA is knowledgeable of areas where there have been citizen issues – they “feel the hot breath of citizens” through the appeals process
    • The Planning Commission has included the ZBA’s input in the Draft Ordinance
  • Many rural areas in the state have very limited zoning ordinances resulting in issues in their communities
    • Without ordinances there is no method to correct problem areas
  • Some residents suggested subdivision should not rely on zoning ordinances, but should rely on their deed restriction to control problems
    • Deed Restriction enforcement requires sub owners to hire costly attorneys 
    • Township ordinances provide protection without added burden

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The purpose of the ‘first and second reading’ is to provide citizens one last chance to provide input on the Ordinance.  The Planning Commission and Township Board should consider the concerns raised by the citizens and make changes they feel are appropriate. However, a wholesale re-review of the Draft Ordinance in not warranted given the years of input that many other citizens have already provided the Planning Commission on the Draft Ordinance.  Their input should not be ‘discounted’ as a result of those who just recently got involved.  

The Current Ordinance has served us well. It needs to be ‘tweaked’ not destroyed.

Richard Michalski (former Oakland Township Planning Commissioner for over 26 years)

If you want to review the Draft ordinance click on the following link:

http://www.oaklandtownship.org/boards_and_commissions/planning_commission/docs/Final%20Draft%20CORRECTED%208-31-17.pdf