Category Archives: Board split?

Parks Commissioner Ann Marie Rogers violates her own criteria for holding public office

Parks and Recreation Commissioner, Ann Marie Rogers, expressed behavior standards for Township officials at the March 22, 2016 Oakland Township Board meeting.  Her own behavior in January 2015 demonstrates she does not meet that standard.

At the March 22, 2016 Oakland Township Board meeting, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Ann Marie Rogers commented that she did not support the potential appointment of fellow Parks and Recreation Commissioner, Joe Peruzzi, to the Zoning Board of Appeals.  She commented that she witnessed many actions by Joe Peruzzi that should disqualify him for any public position. She claimed Joe:

  • “Lacked a thoughtful temperament”
  • “Showed disrespect toward residents”
  • “Possessed an unpredictable and angry nature”

Several Board members took issue with the accuracy of her statements.

Ann Marie’s comments reminded several residents of her behavior that was discussed at the January 14, 2015  Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.  At that meeting, a resident, Joanna VanRaaphorst, described inappropriate and aggressive behavior she witnessed Ann Marie exhibit against a fellow citizen during the previous night’s Board meeting.  Joanna commented that Ann Marie Rogers had turned around and called another citizen “a whore”, and created a hostile environment for citizens attending the meeting.

Ann Marie Rogers defended her actions, and said she even said things “a little bit worse”.  There was no acknowledgment of inappropriate behavior.

Here is a video documenting the proceedings that are described above:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  With this year being an election year for the Township Board and Parks and Recreation Commissioners, the citizens need to make sure we elect people who meet our standards for acceptable behavior. Ann Marie Rogers expressed a good set of standards in the March 22nd meeting.  Since she is running for office again this year, she should be held accountable to those same standards.  Her behavior at the January 13, 2015 Board meeting and the Parks and Recreation meeting on January 14, 2015 demonstrate that she does not meet them.

Finally, the allegations she made against Joe Peruzzi continue to be unsubstantiated.  The Board approved his nomination for the Zoning Board in a 5 to 1 vote.  Supervisor Gonser, who had made similar accusations, was the sole dissenting vote.

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

Blossom Ridge (and Carillon Creek) development approved by Township Board

On February 2, 2016, the Oakland Township Board voted to approve a proposed Consent judgment settlement regarding the Blossom Ridge Senior development. The agreement also included a second parcel on the corner of Adams and Silverbell (by the Church). The Blossom Ridge issue has had many posts on this website over the years. It has been a contentious issue during this Board’s entire administration. In fact, every member of the Board played a role in having this issue proceed to a referendum vote in the summer of 2013.

The legal advice from our Township Attorney, and Judge Howard, clearly played a role in having the majority of the Board vote to approve this Consent Judgment. The vote was five to two, with Treasurer Langlois and Clerk Reilly being the dissenting vote.  Their objections centered on the fact that they did not think that the agreement should have included the second parcel (Carillon Creek parcel), even though our Township Attorney stated that a mutually agreeable solution to the Blossom Ridge parcel was not possible without consideration of the second parcel due to demands made by the Board on the Blossom Ridge parcel.

Most of the Board members shared the rationale for their decisions in great depth (exception being Clerk Reilly), and can be seen by visiting the Township website link included below.

Trustee Buxar summarized her decision by using a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King:

“Cowardice asks the question – Is it safe?

Expediency ask the question – Is is political?

Vanity asks the question – Is it popular?

Conscience asks the question – Is it right?

And there comes a time when one must take a position that is not, safe, political, or popular, but must make it simply because it is right!”

Here is a link to the Township’s website:

http://vp.telvue.com/player?id=T02627

Once you go to the website:

On Playlist tab, click on Board of Trustees 2016
On Video tab, click on February 2, 2016 BOT meeting
On Chapter tab, click on Chapter 3

The following link to a press release provides additional information on the agreement

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/settlement-agreement-provides-expanded-housing-152100205.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory&soc_trk=ma

So what does that Township get out of this agreement?

  • A Senior Assisted Living development that meets our ordinances and community needs.
  • A Senior Health and Wellness Center that meets our ordinances and community needs.
  • Eliminates the burden of Township having to prove it has provided ‘reasonable accommodations’ to a protected class of citizens.
  • Eliminates the potential $17M in delayed damage.
  • Eliminates the loss of being covered by our Insurance Company.
  • Decreases the potential density on the Research Laboratory zoned parcel.
  • Eliminates the potential for oil and gas drilling and cell towers on the parcels.
  • Accessible parkland available to the public in the portion of Township with the highest residential density.
  • Protects the Township against future similar lawsuits if the Carillon Creek parcel gets rezoned to the zoning districts as proposed by our attorney.
  • Township continues to have Engineering Control over the proposed developments.
  • Plan includes a restaurant in our community that our recent survey indicates is a desire of our residents.
  • Developer contributes $400,000 for a water storage facility to help improve seasonal water pressure issues (location will be determined by County water resource commission.)
  • Developer contributes $200,000 for an Advanced Life Support vehicle.
  • Developer contributes up to $125,000 in matching funds for a Veteran’s Memorial facility.

Finally, the biggest win for our Township is that we get this divisive issue behind us and heal the rift in our Township.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The passage of this consent Judgment puts this contentious issue behind us.  The five Board members who voted to approve the agreement made their decision concluding that it was in the best interest of the Township.  Their decision was made in spite of their earlier concerns over the initial proposed development.  They need to be commended for taking that action.

Citizens should consider whether the decisions made by two of our top Township officials, (Treasurer Langlois and Clerk Reilly), really were made in the best interest of the Township.

Richard Michalski

 

UPDATE: Township Board approves first read of Oil and Gas Structure ordinance

At the January 12, 2016 Oakland Township Board meeting, the ‘first read’ of the proposed Oil and Gas Structure Ordinance was approved.  There were several citizens that commented on the draft ordinance.  Supervisor Gonser was the sole dissenting vote.  He wanted to get input from the State and the DNR to get their perspective on how defensible the ordinance would be.

The second read of the Ordinance, and the vote on approval of the Ordinance, is on the agenda for the February 9, 2016 BOT meeting.

Here is a link to the most recent post on this subject:

URGENT REQUEST: Please attend January 12 Board meeting if concerned about Oil and Gas Drilling in Oakland Township

Thanks to all those that attended the meeting!

Richard Michalski

URGENT REQUEST: Please attend January 12 Board meeting if concerned about Oil and Gas Drilling in Oakland Township

Shelby well rig (1)

As previously reported on this website, the Oakland Township Board and Planning Commission agreed to develop an ordinance that would minimize the impact of Oil and Gas drilling in Oakland Township, while protecting individual property rights and still be compliant with Michigan regulations.  The Planning Commission has spent several months working on a draft ordinance.  The draft ordinance was discussed at the December 8, 2015 Township Board meeting.  At that meeting the Board agreed, in a 6 to 1 vote, that the ‘first read’ of the ordinance would take place at the January 12, 2016 Board meeting.  Supervisor Gonser was the single dissenting vote.  He wanted to take more time to study the draft ordinance.  

Public input at Tuesday’s meeting is critical.  It will ensure the Board understands the level of citizen support, and any concerns you may have with the draft ordinance.

PLEASE ATTEND THIS MEETING IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE IMPACT OF OIL AND GAS DRILLING IN OUR COMMUNITY! 

                                              DATE:     TUESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2016

                                             TIME:  7 PM      

                                             LOCATION: OAKLAND TOWNSHIP HALL – 4393 COLLINS RD.

HERE IS A COPY OF THE AGENDA & DRAFT ORDINANCE THAT WAS POSTED ON TOWNSHIP WEBSITE ON JANUARY 8:

Janaury 12, BOT meeting agenda and Oil:Gas draft ordinance

A lobbyist for the Petroleum industry was at the December 8, 2015 BOT meeting and attempted to influence the Board members.  His arguments for why Oakland Township should not pass a local ordinance controlling oil and gas drilling were:

  • Just because other communities have an ordinance is not a reason for Oakland Township to have one
  • There are no pending oil or gas drilling permits in Oakland Township
  • State law controlling oil and gas drilling is preferable
  • There will be administrative costs associated with an ordinance
  • Local Auto manufacturers are benefiting from the sale of big profitable SUV’s and trucks due to low oil and gas prices
  • There are many people currently laid off in oil industry due to low oil and gas prices
  • There may be legal challenges (and associated costs) as a result of an ordinance
  • There is no ‘fracking’ in Oakland County
  • Legal challenges could be based on ‘property rights taking’
  • Oil and gas drilling ON STATE PROPERTIES generates revenue for the Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund (MNRTF)
  • Oakland Township has been recipient of grant funds from the MNRTF

Here are previous articles posted on this website regarding this topic:

Supervisor Gonser opposes Township establishing ordinance to minimize impact of oil and gas drilling in Oakland Township

Oakland Township Board implements 6 month moratorium on new oil or gas drilling in Oakland Township

“Oil and Gas Drilling” is on July 14, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting agenda

Results of June 23, 2015 BOT discussion on Oil and Gas drilling in Oakland Township

UPDATE: Oil and Gas well sites in Oakland Township and Surrounding Communities

JUNE 21st UPDATE: Is Drilling for Oil and Gas coming to Oakland Township? Please attend June 23 Board meeting!

JUNE 17th UPDATE: Is Drilling for Oil and Gas coming to Oakland Township (Church property)?

Is Drilling for Oil and Gas coming to Oakland Township?

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Even though the likelihood of new oil and gas drilling is currently low due to the low cost of oil and gas prices, our community needs to take whatever action is within our legal authority to protect our community from future undesirable oil and gas drilling, while protecting individual property rights.

Richard Michalski

January 8, 2016

Oakland Township and Clinton River Watershed Council agree to a Settlement regarding Millrace lawsuit

As many of you are aware, there has been a legal dispute between Oakland Township and the Clinton River Watershed Council regarding the lack of water flowing down the millrace that leads to the Paint Creek Cider Mill.  On October 6, 2015 an agreement was reached between the parties. A copy of the agreement is attached to this post.  Some of the key items in the agreement are spelled out in this article.

Millrace sign

CIder Mill Wheel copy

When the dam that was upstream of the Paint Creek cider mill (and the millrace) was removed in 2012, the flow of water down the millrace had stopped.  The dam removal was an initiative of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  The Clinton River Watershed Council was the fiduciary on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funded by EPA.

The millrace property is owned by the Township and 7 property owners.  The lack of water flow in the millrace  was a political issue in the 2012 elections, since the previous Board had agreed to the dam removal.  The property owners asked the new Township Board members to help them get the water flowing again in the millrace because their property values had been negatively impacted.  The Board has been working on this issue for 3 years. In 2014, a breach of contract lawsuit was filed against the Clinton River Watershed Council.  Additional background information can be seen in the attached ‘Mutual Release and Settlement Agreement’.

Mutual Release and Settlement Agreement

Here are some of the major elements of the agreement that was approved in a 5 to 2 vote by the Oakland Township Board (Supervisor Gonser & John Giannangeli were dissenting votes) and the Clinton River Watershed Council:

  • The Parties have agreed to settle their disputes and all related claims without further litigation.
  • Hubble, Roth & Clark, Inc. (an Engineering Consulting firm) has determined that certain of the structures that are part of the Project (the original dam removal project) might be modified to increase the flow of water from the Paint Creek through the millrace, and possibly meet Oakland Township’s expectations of flows following completion of the Project.
  • The Clinton River Watershed Council (through Hubble Roth & Clark) will undertake a further design/construction review.
  • The review (or Memorandum) will include articulating the flows Oakland Township desires and identifying modifications that may achieve those flows and may be acceptable to the MDEQ/MDNR.
  • The Design review is to be complete within 60 days.
  • If the Parties agree upon and approve the Modifications, Clinton River Watershed Council shall facilitate a meeting with MDEQ and any other necessary governmental agencies to review the modifications, if needed.  Oakland Township shall be solely reponsible for seeking agency approval of the Modifications.
  • Within the next 12 months, the Clinton River Watershed Council will seek to identify 2 grants for the clean-out and restoration to the millrace by Oakland Township, if available and eligible.
  • Clinton River Watershed Council shall be solely responsible for any and all costs and expenses, of any kind, nature or type whatsoever, associated with the consultant(s) review.
  • Oakland Township shall be responsible for all costs and/or fees associated with MDEQ and/or other governmental agency review of proposed Modifications; any plans necessary for implementation of the Modifications; any design or analysis over and above that provided in the Memorandum; permitting, and any other additional pre-construction, construction or post-construction costs incurred, or to be incurred, should Oakland Township move forward to undertake to perform any Modifications; and any additional or further cost or attorney fees which may be incurred by Oakland Township.

The agreement also includes the typical legal ‘boiler plate’ wording.

A review of the previous bills that have been submitted to the Township for the various aspects of the millrace issue was undertaken.  Financial documents were obtained from the Township  using the Freedom of Information process (FOIA). The total amount the Township has spent on this issue from May of 2013 to September of 2015 is $89,226.  (An additional $3,112.50 for legal services will be approved at the October 13, 2015 BOT meeting).  This amount includes legal, consultant and engineering expense.  Here is a chart that shows the amount spent in each category:

Cumulative costs for Millrace Issue

It is clear, based on the agreement,  that as we proceed with this effort, additional expenses will be incurred by the Township.

Here is a copy of the minutes of the September 27, 2011 BOT meeting where the Board approved the dam removal:

September 27, 2011 BOT motion on dam removal

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?   The millrace issue has been a divisive issue in our Township for several years.  The lack of water flowing down the millrace appears to be due to several things.  The fundamental reason is the loss of elevation of the water feeding the millrace due to the dam removal.  Another reason is that the sediment buildup in the millrace, after years of operation, prevent the water from flowing ‘uphill’.  The sediment issue was raised many times by the Clinton River Watershed Council prior to the dam removal, but nothing was ever done about it.

The settlement agreement appears to be a fair and equitable one.  Regarding the sediment in the millrace, the millrace is used by our community for storm water drainage from the basin on the northeast side of Orion Road in front of Baldwin Elementary School.  That water has contributed (in part) to the sediment buildup in the millrace.  As a result, the community does have some responsibility to clear the millrace.

However, the return of water flow in the millrace is contingent upon:

  • engineering work that results in a design that will provide enough water flow down the millrace to satisfy the Township and the residents desires,
  • the proposed project being acceptable to MDEQ,
  • available grant funding for the dredging & clean out of the millrace.

These are three significant hurdles.  It appears we now have a plan that MAY get us water in the millrace.  The real test will come if the Township Board must make a decision to use public funds to remediate the problem, created on private property (no water in the millrace), as a result of the decision made by the previous Board to remove the dam.

Here are some previous post on the Millrace issue:

Oakland Township files lawsuit against Clinton River Watershed Council

UPDATE: Oakland Township Board (CORRECTION – SUPERVISOR GONSER) potentially commits $431,875 of Township funds to improve private property outside ANY public meeting

Oakland Township Board potentially commits $431,875 of Township funds to improve private property outside ANY public meeting

Richard Michalski

Township Board does not approve Supervisor Gonser’s Planning Commission nominees!

At the July 31, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, the Township Board did not approve either of the two candidates that Supervisor Gonser brought forward for consideration for replacing Janine Saputo and James Carter on the Planning Commission.  Saputo was the Planning Commission’s Secretary, and Carter was the Chairperson of the Commission.  Their terms of appointment are up on September 1.  The Supervisor refused to consider other applicants that the Board members felt were more qualified to meet the immediate needs of the Township.

The Supervisor indicated his selection of the nominees was based on gender diversity, where the nominees lived in the Township, and whether they lived on large parcels of property.

The reason the Board did not approve the two nominees was that the nominees did not have any Township experience in Zoning or Planning.  The Board pointed out that with the previous changes to the Planning Commission, and other Planning personnel changes, the Township’s Planning experience has dropped below a critical level.  One Trustee referred to the loss of expertise as a ‘hemorrhage’.

There were 13 residents that supported the Board’s position and their concern for the level of experience on the Planning Commission.  There were only three individuals that supported Gonser’s position.  One of the three was former Trustee Maureen Thalmann, who recently resigned from the Board.  Another was Parks Commissioner Roger Schmidt, who is involved in a lawsuit against fellow Township’s Parks Commission members, and whose wife happened to be one of Gonser’s nominees.

Supervisor Gonser refused to  nominate other individuals that had applied.  Several of these do have Planning, Zoning, or Township subcommittee experience.

By State Law, only the Supervisor can nominate individuals for the Planning Commission.  The Board has the authority to approve or reject his nominations.

When asked, the Township Attorney could not ‘shed any light’ on what procedurally will occur if the Supervisor does not appoint an acceptable candidate.

Here is a link to an Oakland Press article on the meeting:

Oakland Press article on August 31, 2015 Special BOT meeting

Here is a video of the Board members’ comments:

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  As previously reported on this website, the level of experience on the Planning Commission is critical to preserving the character of Oakland Township.

The Planning Commission is currently faced with two significant challenges.  One is consideration of a change to our Ordinance to limit oil and gas drilling in our Township to the fullest extent allowed by law, and the other is our new Master Plan.  The Supervisor has already gone on record as not supporting any changes to our Ordinance to control oil and gas drilling in out Township.  He also has repeatedly indicated he wants to change the Master Plan.

The Supervisor clearly wants to change the character of our Township.  Continued vigilance is needed by the citizens to make sure he follows our wishes, not just his own political agenda.

A special thanks goes out to all of the citizens that came to the meeting on August 31.  Your presence and comments give the Board the strength to act on your behalf,

Richard MIchalski