The past Planning Commission and Township Board took action to prevent the Legal issues that are now facing Oakland Township regarding discriminatory land use and Zoning ordinances.
Back in the early part of the last decade, the Township recognized that the Township did not have any zoning that would allow for a Senior assisted living facility. They knew that we were vulnerable for a Housing Discrimination issue if we did not at least identify some parcels of land that COULD be used for that usage. As a result, the Planning Commission studied the possible land areas that could support the intensity of that type usage (sewers, water, roads, and surrounding zoning). There were two locations identified as possible locations for that type usage. One was the parcel that has the proposed Blossom Ridge development; the other was located on the Northeast corner of Adams and Gunn. The Planning Commission and the Board approved the MASTER PLAN to indicate that those areas were POTENTIAL sites for High Density Conservation. The Master Plan does not cause rezoning to occur. It does indicate where that type usage COULD exist, if the property owner wanted to have it rezoned to that Zoning.
The Moceri Corporation purchased the land on Adams and Dutton, and requested that it be rezoned to the HDC from the MRD as the master plan indicated. At the same time as the rezoning request, they indicated the development would use the PRRO option. This defines EXACTLY what the developer is planning, and quite frankly is in the Township’s best interest so there is no “bait and switch” by the developer after the Zoning is changed.
The Zoning request was approved by the old Board, and then placed on hold because of the referendum request. Moceri also requested the Special Accommodation request, which is allowed by our Ordinances for meeting the special needs of citizens with disabilities. The old Board placed that request on hold by a 4 to 3 vote until after the referendum.
The new Board delayed the referendum until August of this year by repeated “on again-off again-on again” requests for an opinion from the Attorney General.
The Board’s August 13, 2013 action (or inaction) on the Special Accommodation request was VERY IMPORTANT. If the Board had approved it, the development could go forward. Many of the residents who voted in the referendum would be VERY UPSET, but the law must be followed – referendum or not. By not taking action, they have further exposed the Township to delays in providing the “special accommodation” needs for a ‘protected’ portion of our population.
At the August 13th Board meeting, the Board claimed that all the criteria for making a Special Accommodation request were not satisfied. The minutes from the October 9, 2012 Board meeting show that that information was provided in the motion made by Trustee Edwards (this motion was rejected by a 4 to 3 vote). The information was presented as part of the presentation material at that meeting. At the subsequent meeting, the Board members, opposed to development, voted to have portions of Trustee Edwards motion removed from HIS motion. It is highly unusual and inappropriate to have the Board remove content of a motion that was recorded and rejected.
Since the Special Accommodation request has been on the current Board’s “to do list” for months, raising their recent concerns NOW is another example of their ‘delay strategy”.
In the future if the Board turns the request down, or continues to delay making a decision on the Special Accommodation request, the Township may be found guilty of discrimination for the following reasons:
- The Master Plan allows for this type usage at that location
- The Developer requested the appropriate rezoning and PRRO for the plan to be developed
- The size, height and traffic issues are not valid based on the information that is posted on another portion of this web page under Blossom Ridge.
- In March, the County Zoning Coordinating Committee warned the Township that if the development is rejected, the Township would probably be found guilty for discrimination.
The past Planning Commission and a minority of the previous Board did everything they could to prevent this legal issue from causing damages to the Township. The 4 to 3 vote to defer the Special Accommodation request, and the current Board’s delays place the Township in a very difficult and possibly expensive position. Please look at at the Recent Post on this webpage titled “Possible ‘vision’ of what could be in store for Oakland Township” to see the fines imposed on a city in Missouri for discriminatory practices.
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? If the Federal Investigation that is underway determines that the Township has performed discriminatory practices, the current Board will have to accept full responsibility for the actions that they have taken on this issue, and the Township may have to pay fines as a result of their actions.
Richard Michalski – Former Oakland Township Planning Commissioner for 26 years, and Chair for a number of them.