Category Archives: Board of Trustees

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

Civility will return to Oakland Township! Our reputation restored!

Congratulations! Our collective efforts have been successful!

Voting_icon

Here are the names of the unofficial winners of the Oakland Township Board positions for 2016-2020 – pending the results of the November election:

Supervisor – Mike Bailey

Treasurer – Jeanne Langlois

Clerk – Karen Reilly

Trustee – Robin Buxar

Trustee – Frank Ferriolo

Trustee – John Giannangeli

Trustee – Lana Mangiapane  (only member of Terry Gonser’s ‘ticket’)

Here are the names of the unofficial winners of the Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Commission positions for 2016-2020 – pending the results of the November election:

Emily Barkham

Craig Blust

Dan Bukowski

Colin Choi

Cathy Rooney

Daniel Simon

Hank Van Agen

In addition, both the Parks renewal millage and the OPC transportation millage were approved.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?

With these public servants:

  • Civil, ethical and professional behavior will be restored at both the Board and Parks Commission level.
  • Turmoil regarding the form of governance in Oakland Township will be eliminated.
  • The certainty of the position of Township Manager will enable us to have the most qualified professional municipal manager run the day to day operations in the Township.
  • Conflicts between the Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission will be eliminated.
  • The great reputation of our Township will be restored.

Will there be difficult and contentious issues our community will have to deal with?  Absolutely!  Will there be differences of opinion on how to resolve the issues?  Absolutely!

However, we have seen how the returning Board members have developed and worked together as a team over the past few years.  Our future looks bright!

Thanks to all the great candidates that chose to run for office!  Thanks to the retiring Parks and Recreation Commission members for ‘vetting’ the new Commission’s candidates, so their legacy will continue!  Thanks to the countless others that helped get the new officials elected! Thanks to all those who have been following this website!  Thanks to all of those who contributed to the ‘Oakland Township Watchers Action Committee’ for helping to make the election results a success!

BUT, most of all, thanks to all those who voted!

YOUR VOTE COUNTED!

Richard Michalski & Jim Foulkrod

 

 

 

Supervisor Gonser violated Charter Township Act in 2014!

A person's actions tell you everthing you need to know

At the June 14 , 2016 Board meeting, the Township attorney was asked to review the historical documents, and determine if Supervisor Gonser had authority to sign an easement agreement without Board knowledge or approval. At the June 28, 2016 Board meeting, the attorney concluded, even though there were past administrative failures that resulted in the easement not being officially approved and recorded back in 2004, Supervisor Gonser should have brought the issue to the Board prior to him signing it on September 3, 2014.  His signature violated the Charter Township Act.

  • Supervisor Gonser, attempted to prevent the attorney’s conclusions from being made public.
  • Supervisor Gonser tried to blame the attorney by saying there were undocumented conversations on this matter and that he “was not advised not to bring it to the Board”. (There was no evidence that the attorney was ever aware of the issue prior to the June 14, 2016 meeting.)
  • Supervisor Gonser indicated there had been considerable discussion prior to signing the agreement, even though he could not recall anything about this issue at the June 14th Board meeting.
  • Supervisor Gonser tried to blame the Planning Commission for the administrative issue that resulted in the failure to have the deed recorded back in 2004, even though it was not the Planning Commissions responsibility.
  • Supervisor Gonser attempted to defend his failure to bring it to the Board for review and agreement, even though his actions violated the Charter Township Act, by saying:

    “What would have been the difference!  . . . . .It was a done deal!”

So what happens now?  Since there never was an official Board motion (in 2004 or 2014) to approve the easement agreement, and the Board wants to understand the Township’s legal responsibility for this easement, the issue will come back to the Board for final resolution.

Here is a video of the meeting proceedings.  It does provide a very clear picture of Supervisor Gonser’s thought process and character.

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Since there were previous commitments made regarding the easement but they had not been officially recorded, the Township administrative procedures need to be reviewed to ensure this type of failure does not occur again.

However, the Supervisor’s:

  • lack of understanding that the issue should have been brought to the Board,
  • his rationalization for violating the Charter Township Act because “What would have been the difference?”,
  • his apparent selective memory on this issue by his conflicting comments made at the June 14th and 28th meetings,
  • his lack of understanding of the responsibilities of the Planning Commission,
  • his accusing two residents of ‘parsing’ his words,
  • and his attempts to place blame on others,

should raise concerns by our citizens.  Is this the type of leader we want as Supervisor for the next four years?  He has previously indicated he wants to take over all administrative responsibilities for the Township and eliminate our full time professional Township manager position. Do you really think we can trust him?

Personally, I think he would have been better off if he had simply admitted that he “screwed up” and should have brought it to the Board.   There is no harm in admitting to a mistake – trying to place blame on others for a personal failure is another matter.  ‘Nixonian’ is the best term I can come up with to describe his behavior.

Richard Michalski

 

Statistics on growth of “Board/Manager” form of community governance

Supervisor Terry Gonser is proposing going back to the form of Township governance our community had prior to 1998, where his position would be a full time position.  There are several 2016 Oakland Township Board candidates that support Terry Gonser’s re-election candidacy, and presumably support his desire to make this change. 

Statistics published by the International City/Council Management Association (ICMA) indicate that many communities are moving toward the form of governance Oakland Township currently has, not away from it.  Their data indicates the size of a community influences the form of governance the communities choose.

After several attempts, we have not been successful in obtaining written statements from Supervisor Gonser (although his past actions make his position clear) , or several other Board candidates, regarding their position on this issue.  The citizens of Oakland Township deserve to understand each candidate’s position before they cast their ballots. Unfortunately the following have been reluctant to provide their positions.

We have not received responses from:

  • Terry Gonser – Supervisor Candidate
  • Judy Workings – Clerk Candidate
  • Jayson Corey – Trustee Candidate
  • Lana Mangiapane – Trustee Candidate
  • Robert Ricketts – Trustee Candidate who has withdrawn from race

The statements from the other candidates can be read by clicking:

SEE 2016 CANDIDATE OPINIONS

Here is more information on ICMA and the statistics they provided:

The ICMA is an organization that:

“identifies leading practices to address the needs of local governments and professionals serving communities globally. We provide services, research, publications, data and information, peer and results-oriented assistance, and training and professional development to thousands of city, town, and county leaders and other individuals and organizations throughout the world. The management decisions made by ICMA’s members affect millions of people living in thousands of communities, ranging in size from small towns to large metropolitan areas.”

Here is a quote from their website regarding the form of governance in communities (note: the ‘board-manager’ form of governance for a Township is similar to the ‘council-manager’ form for a village or city):

“Since it was first created a century ago, the council-manager form of government has become the most popular structure of local government in the United States. While many new municipalities have been incorporated with managers from their beginnings, many cities and counties across the country have made a deliberate change from strong-mayor to council-manager. Appointing a non-partisan professional manager with the authority to carry out the policies set by the elected body has advantages for many communities, and several have recently made the switch.”

The ICMA has provided data on how the preferred form of governance changes as a community increases in size.  Here is a graph of that data:

(click on image to enlarge it)

Form of governance vs. Community size

As you can see, when a community is small in size, it tends to have a “Mayor-Council’ or “Supervisor-Board” form of governance.  As it grows, and the complexity of managing the community increases,  it tends to move toward a “Council-Manager” or “Board-Manager” form of governance, where a professionally trained manager handles the administrative issues of the community at the direction of the Board.  Once a community gets above 250,000 residents, the “Mayor-Council” form of governance comes back into favor.

Oakland Township’s 2010 population was almost 17,000.  With that population size, 53% of the 1,847 communities surveyed have a “Board-Manager” form of governance, similar to what Oakland Township currently possesses.  The reasons for the increase in popularity of this form of governance are expressed by many of the the Oakland Township Board candidates that support retaining our current form of governance, SEE 2016 CANDIDATE OPINIONS, as well as the Kalamazoo Township Board that is moving to this form of governance, SEE KALAMAZOO BOARD DECISION.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  As previously stated, there are several 2016 candidates that support Supervisor Gonser.  If they get elected, they may be successful in making his position a full time position. There are a few candidates (identified above) that have not provided their position on this critical issue.  Please consider the information that is available when you vote.

Richard Michalski

Legal review underway to determine if Supervisor Gonser had authority to commit Township to significant financial liability without Board knowledge or approval

At the June 14, 2016 Oakland Township Board meeting, Treasurer Langlois disclosed that on September 3, 2014, Supervisor Gonser signed a safety path easement agreement with a property owner to transfer “all responsibility and liability for the safety path and boardwalk to the Township and its residents”.  This agreement was done without any knowledge, or agreement, from the Township Board.  

The agreement could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of cost to the Township in repair and/or replacement of that badly deteriorated path.  The property involved is on the Southwest corner of Adams and Silverbell Roads.   The parcel is currently owned by a Moceri entity. It was purchased from the church on that corner approximately 90 days after the easement was signed. The easement document that the Supervisor signed indicates that it was prepared by an employee of a Moceri entity.  (The ownership information was corrected after the initial post.   The change in ownership was incorrectly stated as just the opposite of what is now correctly stated.)

Treasurer Langlois stated there is no evidence of a Board review, or a Legal review of this matter (the Township attorney did not appear to have any knowledge of the agreement).  She also stated:

“I do not believe Supervisor Gonser had, or has, the authority to accept easements on behalf of the Township.  Only the Board of Trustees has that authority. The document appears to show an overreach on the part of the Supervisor, and a complete improper action.”

Supervisor Gonser sat silent for almost 3 minutes while others spoke before he stated:

“Unfortunately I don’t remember why I signed it.  I can only state that it certainly did not come in a vacuum.  Someone had to present it to me and indicated it was appropriate to sign, but I don’t remember the specifics of it.” 

He made no attempt at explaining why he did not bring it to the Board for approval, or even for information.

Trustee Ferriolo stated:

“No matter what was involved in the history and rationale for doing it, it should have been brought to the Board.”

The Township attorney has agreed to perform an investigation on this issue and will report out at the next meeting scheduled for June 28, 2016.

 

Here is a video of the June 14th discussion:

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  We certainly must wait for the results of the Legal investigation to be complete before we draw any final conclusions, but Supervisor Gonser’s signature, and lack of willingness to inform the entire Board of his actions, is consistent with previous behavior.

This website has reported that Supervisor Gonser has repeatedly attempted to change the governance structure of Oakland Township to one where he would become a full time “Strong Supervisor”. He has taken several unilateral actions without Board approval.  The Board has repeatedly responded by reaffirming Ordinance 97, which limits the Supervisor’s responsibilities, and maintains a professional Township manager who reports to the entire Board.

Here are some key points:

  • This easement agreement will certainly result in significant added costs to our Township.
  • It appears to have been made unilaterally without Board knowledge or agreement.
  • Under normal conditions, Gonser’s action could have resulted in a recall campaign being held.
  • Gonser is currently a candidate for election on August 2nd.
  • The Absentee ballots are going out on June 29th.
  • It is essential that the Legal review be completed by the June 28th Board meeting,
  • It is absolutely essential that we get adequate press coverage immediately after the June 28th meeting, so people can make an informed decision prior to sending in their absentee ballot.

My recommendation is that the Board be prepared to issue a press release on June 29th to the Oakland Press and the Rochester Post informing them of the outcome of the investigation.  If there are acceptable reasons for Gonser’s signature, there may be no need for the press release.  However, the press release may still be necessary since Gonser should have brought it to the Board for information.

The citizens need to have a clear understanding of this situation before they vote!

Richard Michalski

Trustee candidate Lana Mangiapane misrepresents “Meet and Greet” meeting. Can you trust her as an Oakland Township Trustee?

The May 17, 2016 “Meet and Greet’ event that Trustee candidate Lana Mangiapane (and an undefined ‘women’s group’) set up was not the unbiased event that she claimed it to be.  Aside from the brief comments from two of the three Supervisor candidates, it became a forum for Lana to present information supporting Supervisor Terry Gonser’s attempt at making his position a full time one in our Township.  The event did not present a balanced perspective on this important issue.  Lana is a candidate for Township Trustee this year.

On May 17, 2016 there was a “Meet and Greet” event that Trustee candidate Lana Mangiapane set up for Oakland Township citizens to meet this year’s Supervisor candidates for our Township.  She claimed it was set up by a woman’s group in the community.  The event was advertised in the “Community Lifestyles” newspaper that residents of Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township receive.  Even though she had presented the meeting as an unbiased political meeting, the event ended up being a political campaign event for Terry Gonser.  Lana’s presentation was supportive of Terry Gonser’s desire to become a “Strong Supervisor” for Oakland Township.  Lana did not provide a counter perspective on the issue that is shared by the two other candidates for Supervisor.

Terry Gonser attended the entire meeting.  Andy Zale were able to attend a portion of the meeting.  He had another Township meeting he had to attend, so he left shortly after introducing himself and giving a short speech.  Mike Bailey had a previous commitment and was unable to attend.

After Andy and Terry made their introductory comments, Andy left.   Lana then gave a 10 minute presentation on the history of the Supervisor position in Oakland Township. The presentation focused on the fact that Oakland Township does not have a “Strong Supervisor” form of governance.  Supervisor Gonser has spent the last 3 plus years trying to change Oakland Township’s form of governance into one where his position would be a full time position.  He would eliminate the professionally trained municipal manager that runs the day to day operations in the Township.

The current Board has repeatedly rejected Gonser’s attempt to change the existing structure of our Township.  Lana’s presentation was clearly attempting to influence the public into thinking that what we have is not appropriate for our Township. She did not provide a balance perspective that would have included the reasons the current Board used to justify why our current structure is in the best interest of our Township.

After Lana gave her presentation, I asked her if there would be a venue where the other perspective on the issue could be presented. She responded by saying:

“Today this presentation . . . it was just the information that was printed that we presented.”

She went on to say:

“This may be something that we take up at one of the meetings.”

Prior the ‘Meet and Greet”, there were attempts by others to get clarification of who were members of the the “womens group” that organized the event and when they met.  Lana refused to provide any information.

After the formal presentation, I asked Lana who prepared the presentation. She responded by saying:

“It was given to me by someone.”

I then asked her who gave it to her.  She refused to give me the name of the person, and then walked away.

On May 18th, one of the attendees posted a comment on this website’s Home Page regarding his attempt at getting a copy of the Lana’s presentation.  Here is a copy of his comment.  You can also read it under the Home Page comments.

“Yesterday I attended the Meet the Candidates for Township Supervisor. I found the presentation to be very informative and was hoping to have an electronic copy for my notes. I was told that I needed to put ‘Candidate’ next to my name on the signup sheet and I would have a copy emailed to me. When I went to go back to the signup sheet, the sheets were taken up and put somewhere. When I went back to the person who told me to add ‘Candidate’ she said that I was not allowed to have a copy of the presentation. Transparency and Accountability were two key words used and yet these actions do not support either…”

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  This summer’s election will have profound effects on Oakland Township’s future.  The issue of whether Oakland Township should have a “Strong Supervisor” form of governance has become a central issue in this year’s Supervisor’s race.  Supervisor Gonser has been trying to change the structure of Oakland Township for over 3 years. He wants his position to be a full time position, where he would take over all administrative responsibilities in our Township, including managing the many technical municipal management items for which he has no experience.  The other two Supervisor candidates do not support that position.  They want to keep the current structure, where the Supervisor and the Board rely on a trained professional municipal manager to run the day to day operations of the Township, with direction from the entire Board.

It appears there are a number of Trustee candidates, including Lana Mangiapane, who agree with Terry Gonser’s desire for a ‘Strong Supervisor’.  If a majority of these candidates get elected, they will change the structure of our Township.

Lana’s attempts to use the “Meet and Greet” forum as a campaign event for Terry Gonser’s ‘platform plank’, while implying the the meeting as an unbiased political event, convinced me that she is not trustworthy enough to gain my vote.  Her refusal to disclose:

  • who the ‘women’s group’ are,
  • who put the presentation together,
  • who gave her the presentation

were further examples of her lack of transparency.

To quote the person who posted a comment on our Home Page,

“Transparency and Accountability were two key words used and yet these actions do not support either…”

Here is a link to a  previous post that references the “Strong Supervisor’ discussions that have occurred at past Board meeting.

Oakland Township’s ‘Manager’ or ‘Superintendent’ form of governance is growing in popularity in State

Since this is an important issue for the citizens of Oakland Township to consider when they vote on August 2nd, the editors of this website will reach out to each of the Trustee candidates to ask them to express their position on this important issue.  Hopefully we will get responses from all of them.

Richard Michalski

Oakland Township’s ‘Manager’ or ‘Superintendent’ form of governance is growing in popularity in State

As many of you are aware, Supervisor Gonser, and former Trustee Maureen Thalmann, made repeated attempts at changing Oakland Township’s structure from a “Manager” form of governance to a “Strong Supervisor” form of governance.  He and Maureen wanted to change the Supervisor position to a full time position and eliminate the full time professional manager position.  The Supervisor would assume all of the day to day operations in the Township with assistance from a part time support person.

At the April 12, 2016 BOT meeting, Clerk Karen Reilly reported that many Township’s in the state are moving away from the ‘Strong Supervisor” form of governance to what we currently have in Oakland Township.  

Here is a video of Karen Reilly’s comments:

There have been many previous articles posted on this website regarding Supervisor Goner’s attempts at changing the structure of our Township.  Many of them cover the reasons why our current ‘Manager’ structure is preferred, and why Supervisor Gonser’s actions are reasons why a “Strong Supervisor” form of governance is not in Oakland Township’s best interest. Other communities are apparently coming to the same conclusion.

Here are links to previous posts on this topic:

2013

2014

2015

The above articles make it clear why other communities are moving AWAY FROM their “Strong Supervisor” structures TO what Supervisor Gonser considers a “bizarre and unworkable” form of governance.  Maybe the ‘bizarre and unworkable’ adjectives apply to Supervisor Gonser, as former Township manager Warren Brown suggested in his resignation statement noted above.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser is planning on running for reelection this summer and fall.  Although he did not disclose his desire to change how Oakland Township is structured prior to his election in 2012, his actions over the past few years make it clear what his intentions were and continue to be.

Between now and the primary elections this summer, there will certainly be discussions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of governance.  I recommend you read some of the previous postings listed above to familiarize yourself with why we have our current ‘Manager’ form of governance.

It is very interesting that other communities are moving away from what Supervisor Gonser is proposing.  Our current structure has helped create our outstanding community.  It appears other communities are beginning to see the wisdom of our ways.

Please consider Terry Gonser’s position on this in the upcoming summer election.

Richard Michalski