The following is a link to a press release from the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America regarding the Blossom Ridge settlement in our Township. They were one of three plaintiffs in the lawsuit against our Township.
The following is a link to a press release from the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America regarding the Blossom Ridge settlement in our Township. They were one of three plaintiffs in the lawsuit against our Township.
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:
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
So what does that Township get out of this agreement?
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.
The January 26, 2016 Oakland Township Board meeting was very informative regarding the proposed Blossom Ridge Consent Judgment that the Board is considering. There were many facts and opinions shared. Our Township Attorney also corrected many inaccurate claims that have been shared by some of the citizens opposed to the development.
Because the issue is so complex, it is difficult (and almost impossible) to accurately summarize the points made by the Attorneys, Consultants and citizens at the meeting. As a result, I recommend that citizens who have an interest in this issue, and are willing to spend time understanding the many complexities involved in this decision, visit the following Township website and watch the meeting proceedings.
Once you go to the website,
It will take you to the 4:50 (minute:second) point in the meeting.
The rest of the meeting primarily shares citizen inputs on this issue – some in support and some in opposition.
As I stated, it is complex and not easy to simplify for this post, but only by watching the reports will you understand the legal and planning issues our Board must consider.
The Board is scheduled to make a decision on this matter on February 2, 2016 at a 5 PM meeting at the Township Hall.
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? This issue has been a divisive one in our Township for years. I apologize for not being able to give you a ‘Reader’s Digest’ version of this issue, but I feel it is important for those who want to form their own objective position on this issue to watch the video.
On Jan 26th the Board of Trustees will discuss and invite public comment on the proposed consent judgment to settle the Blossom Ridge lawsuit. see our recent post on this topic
Dan Kelly has said that all the attorneys advising the township in this matter recommend approval of the proposal.
I urge the Board to follow the recommendations of the attorneys knowledgeable about this case and to be aware that the opinions of people that are not as knowlegable can contain errors about legal meanings.
The board has received a letter from Eighteen individuals, all of whom live near the Blossom Ridge property, citing reasons that they are urging the board to reject the proposed agreement. They put forward a very important fallacy regarding legal precedence which they use many times in different forms and contexts. It is asserted by them that:
“The precedents established by this Consent Judgment”:
- “will essentially eliminate building size restrictions for future multi-family (R-M) high density developments”;
- (will have) “impact on future lawsuits”;
- (undermine) “the confidence of the Oakland Township electorate in the local government for future zoning decisions”;
- “will establish a new minimum lot size standard for multi-family (R-M) zoning”;
- “The precedent set by compromising the zoning ordinance standardwill make it more attractive for non-conforming future high density R-M development in the Township”;
- “will make it more attractive for non-conforming future high density R-M development in the Township”;
- “the Zoning Ordinance… needs to be defended and not weakened through this Consent Judgment”.
The problem with these arguments is that a consent judgment agreement between parties to a lawsuit does not establish legal precedence. Only published opinions of a judge’s decision in a trial establish precedence. In my 20 years on the Planning Commission and 12 years on the Zoning Board of Appeals I have never seen any alteration, reduction, weakening or compromising of our zoning ordinance by consent judgments. The language, meaning and effect of our ordinance have remained intact and in full force.
This is a very real likelihood in that if this matter goes to trial and violations of the Fair Housing Act are found the Federal Court may order changes to our zoning ordinance to force compliance with the Fair Housing Act. That is when citizens will experience a loss of control.
As many of you know, there has been a significant legal issue that our Township has been dealing with for over 3 years. That issue is the Federal case against Oakland Township regarding the Blossom Ridge Senior Development proposed at the corner of Adams and Dutton (see tab at top of page for more historical information).
A Federal court requested ‘facilitation’ took place in the hopes that an agreement could be achieved eliminating the need for a trial. A proposal that involved just the Blossom Ridge parcel was not achieved, so the developer offered an option that included more than the original Blossom Ridge property. Judge Howard, the negotiation facilitator, supported the proposal and asked that the proposal be reviewed by the entire Board and made available to the public.
A final decision by the Board IS REQUIRED by January 26, 2016, or the issue will go to trial in July. Specific information on the proposal has been made available to the public. The plans are available for review at the Township Hall, on the Township website, and in the two links shown below on this website. This topic has been added to the January 26 BOT meeting agenda.
Here are the various iterations of the Blossom development that had been previously publicly considered and rejected:
THE PROPOSED CONSENT JUDGEMENT INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
ON ORIGINAL PROPOSED BLOSSOM RIDGE PROPERTY:
ON 30+ ACRES SURROUNDING OAKLAND CHRISTIAN CHURCH (ADAMS AND SILVERBELL)
OPTIONS DISCUSSED BY BOARD MEMBERS:
Here is video of the lengthy report given by Township Attorney, Dan Kelly:
Here is the Township’s summary of the proposed consent judgment posted on Township website
Here are the proposed plans for both the Blossom Ridge property as well as the property around the Church:
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? This issue has been a divisive one in our Township for years. The consequences of making the right decision will have a long term impact on our Township. If the Board agrees with the consent judgement, it will restrict the Township in their ability to review the proposed developments being proposed on the parcel near the Church. However, the developer has demonstrated through the years that his developments are compatible with our Township, and we hope that the developer will consider any site concerns the Township raises if that is the Board’s decision. The potential financial implications of making the wrong decision by the Board are VERY SIGNIFICANT.
We encourage all citizens concerned about this issue to visit the Township Hall prior to January 26th and review the proposed plans. After viewing the plans, make your views known by either attending the January 26th meeting, or sending a letter to the Board members.
Bloomberg News has put the national spotlight on Oakland Township with its Feb 18th Newswire report on Oakland Township’s official response to the lawsuit brought by the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America (MPVA) alleging discriminatory housing practices under the Federal Fair Housing Law. The Township’s response to the suit claims that the MPVA has no “standing” to bring such a suit against Oakland Township. The full content of the report is reproduced below
“Michigan Veterans Vehemently Respond To Oakland Township’s Stance Against Paralyzed Veterans Housing Project
DETROIT, Feb. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Michigan veterans issued a vehement and stinging response to Oakland Township’s motion to deny paralyzed veterans fair housing.
“As a Veteran, I find it absolutely outrageous that the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America have to sue an affluent community like Oakland Township in order to get them to approve a senior housing project which would provide some of the needed housing for the more than 2,000 Service Disabled Veterans in the area,” said Keith King, President, Veterans Support Foundation, United States Armed Forces Association. “As the President of a national foundation that provides funding and care for homeless veterans, and funds other foundations supporting Veteran causes, I see no justification for Oakland Township’s cowardly stance.”
The Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America in December filed a lawsuit against Oakland Township in Federal Court contending the Township had engaged in discriminatory housing practices under the Federal Fair Housing Law, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, by aggressively blocking approval of a housing project that would accommodate paralyzed veterans and the elderly.
In responding to the Federal Court complaint of the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America (MPVA), the Township doubled down on its lawlessness, claiming the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of American have no right to protect its members’ rights in court.
“I applaud and fully support the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America (MPVA) in their Fair Housing lawsuit against Oakland Township,” said decorated disabled veteran Army Ranger Frank Campanaro. Campanaro is also the President and Founder of VETPOWER.org, a Michigan-based 501(c)3 charity dedicated to helping veterans transition from military service.
“These are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, who served our country in the military with honor, and who have returned with service related disabilities,” Campanaro said. “There are more than 36,000 service disabled heroes in Southeast Michigan, with more than 7,600 in Oakland County alone.
“Oakland Township’s contempt against the Fair Housing Act is clearly evident when they denounce the freedom of elderly and disabled persons, which includes many MPVA members’, to choose where they want to live.
“It’s despicable that this community would look for ways to stop, rather than help, these valiant men and women who have protected our country. These Veterans have paid the price for our freedom with their blood, flesh and bones.
“The attempt to use a legal technicality to throw out the MPVA from a “standing” issue is demoralizing and the slightest use of any unintended pun is not humorous.
“Oakland Township should help them create more housing solutions that will accommodate their needs, and not be standing in their way,” Campanaro said.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/michigan-veterans-vehemently-respond-to-oakland-townships-stance-against-paralyzed-veterans-housing-project-300037968.html
SOURCE Keith King; Frank Campanaro”
As reported recently, the second lawsuit against Oakland Township over the Blossom Ridge Development was filed on December 11, 2014. One of the claims made in the filing is that:
“The Township’s disregard of and seeming inability to comprehend its FHA obligations is systematic and pervasive”
The above claim is based a Board decision at the December 10, 2013 Board meeting to have the Parks Commission ‘refrain’ from making an offer to a potential caretaker for the Lost Lake Park. This individual was the choice of the Parks and Recreation Commission. The Board’s concern was the potential liability of extending this job to the recommended person since the family had young children.
Fortunately, the Parks Commission had performed their ‘due diligence’ in getting input from the Township’s Insurance company as well as the Park Commission’s Attorney, and proceeded with their selection. Had the Park’s Commission rejected the selected caretaker based on the Township Board’s concern, the Township could have been charged with violating the Elliot Larson Act for using familial status as a reason for not hiring the caretaker.
Here is the information included in the Moceri/DM investment LLC and Joan Buser vs. Charter Township of Oakland filing – 12/11/14:
Treasurer Langlois: Move that the Board make a review of that potential situation [a lease of Twp property to a Family with Minor Children]…and make a motion to authorize the Township Supervisor to formally request that the Parks and Recreation Commission refrain from entering into a caretaker contract until the liability issues can be reviewed by the Township insurance agent and Township legal counsel.
Trustee Bailey: Is this the first that you’re aware of that we have done such a thing [lease to a family with minor children]?
Treasurer Langlois: Yes, I understand there was a caretaker in the past, there were no minor children that I know of and then the initial approval recently was for a new caretaker that did not involve a family with minor children and when that fell through this apparently prompted the Parks [commission] to look at family with 2 very small children.
Trustee Bailey: How small are they?
Treasurer Langlois: Six and two.
Here is a copy of the Michigan Elliott-Larson Civil RIghts Act.
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? Only the court will determine if the example shown above will have an impact on the final decision regarding Blossom Ridge. However, another conclusion can be made from this example.
Ever since early 2013, the Township Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission have had separate law firms providing legal guidance. The decision by the Parks Commission to retain their own counsel was based the Board’s confrontational actions toward the Parks Commission (some of which are involved in legal actions BETWEEN the two elected bodies).
Examples of the Board’s confrontational actions against the Parks and Recreation Commission can be seen by scrolling through the articles in the following link (this article is the first one shown, so please scroll through the entire list):
Trustee Thalmann consistently points out, during her “Trustee Comments” at Board meeting, the legal expense that the Parks Commission has incurred for the month. The contract with the Board’s legal team technically includes legal support for the Parks and Recreation Commission. She claims that the Park’s legal expenses are not necessary, since they would be covered by the contract with the Board’s legal team. It should be pointed out the the Board’s legal team did not advise the Board against making their December 10, 2013 motion.
It appears that the Parks Commission’s legal counsel, and the decision by the Parks Commission to proceed with extending the offer to the family with children, may have prevented the Township from a lawsuit involving a Elliott-Larson civil rights violation.
Oakland Township’s legal expense has increased dramatically since the new Board has come into office. The legal fees incurred by the Parks Commission are totally eclipsed by the legal fees incurred as a result of lawsuits our Township is involved in since the new Board took office.
The Township should be grateful for the actions taken by the Parks and Recreation Commission based on the legal advice from their separate legal counsel.
a) The lawsuit explains that Americans with Disabilities Act:
“provides that no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities or a public entity, or be subject to discrimination by any such entity.”
“Under the ADA, a governmental entity engages in a discriminatory practice where the entity refuses to make a reasonable accommodation to rules, policies, practices or services when such accommodation may be necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.”
b) The lawsuit explains that The Fair Housing Act:
“forbids discrimination against the disabled in housing and further states: It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a handicapped person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit, including public and common use areas.”
c) It is important to understand that, while we, as individuals, may think of the word “disabled” mostly in terms of wheelchair accessibility and blindness, the Code of Federal Regulation law takes a much broader view that greatly expands the group of people who are protected:
“Physical or mental impairment means (A) any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive, digestive, genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or (b) any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. [42 C.F.R. 84.3(2)(i).]”
“Notwithstanding the Township’s lack of and need for suitable housing for the elderly and disabled, the Township’s current residents have rebuffed repeated efforts to modify or gain exceptions to its extremely restrictive zoning regime. A relatively small and uninformed, but impassioned and vocal, minority of residents have repeatedly taken control sufficiently to stymie all efforts to introduce fair housing to the Township. That minority of residents are determined to reserve the opportunity to reside in the Township only to those who can afford to live in and own the luxury housing which currently characterizes the Township stock of housing.”
During the years 2005 – 2008 Dominic and Frances Moceri affiliated companies proposed the Harvest Corners development which included various types of single family housing, some retail stores and housing for the elderly and disabled. After almost 3 years of hearing public comment and deliberating the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees approved the rezoning to allow the Harvest Corners development. The suit explains what happened next:
“An impassioned and misinformed minority of residents demanded a referendum on the zoning change and submitted the required petition. Predictably, in an off-cycle vote those who opposed the rezoning came to the polls in greater numbers than did those who supported the plan. The referendum reversed the decisions of the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees and preserved a zoning regime which bars the elderly and disabled from the Township unless they can live in a large luxury home and hire their own assistance.”
a) “We don’t need senior development. If people want condos they can go to Auburn Hills, it’s not that far away.”
b) “I don’t think it’s the responsibility of citizens of Oakland Township to bring policemen, firemen, displaced persons from Detroit or New Orleans, whatever out to Oakland Township to live.”
c) “… I sell a national brand; I am with Mr. Fox. This is low income housing, basically, compared to what we worked for.”
d) “We don’t have a requirement to be inclusive. We can be exclusive.”
“Township residents who filled the Township meeting room and made dire predictions about wandering Alzheimer’s patients, “workers” from outside the Township, traffic congestion, diminished property values, and the loss of the Township’s special character and exclusivity.”
“Some of the most vehement fear mongers have since become elected or appointed Township officials”.
Township Treasurer candidate, Jeanne Langlois, has said the Township residents are not asking for this type of senior housing and are content to look outside the Township for this.
Another Board of Trustees candidate said that lack of senior housing is “one of the things that make Oakland Township special – that it doesn’t have a lot of things other communities have.”
“six in ten people with Alzheimer’s disease will wander.”
“will be a rental development, a business masquerading as senior housing.”
“Recent neighboring property sales continue to fall – your home’s value – and potential buyers are now factoring in BLOSSOM RIDGE.”
“This type of development changes the whole temper of this area.”
“Your neighborhood could be next.”
“This request is based on greed, not need. We do not need a senior center in this area. My message to the Township Board is do the right thing and reject this proposal.”
“Mr. Moceri and the planning committee need to know that we will take all necessary steps to make this proposal fail. We do not need this type of development in a high scale residential area as it will continue the drop in home values that is already taking place.”
“this proposal did not fill a void and does not do anything towards keeping the prosperity and integrity of why the residents moved to those subdivisions.”
John Giannangeli commented at the May 8, 2012 Board meeting, saying the project “is a commercial 24/7 business in the middle of the most populous part of the township,” and a “bait and switch senior housing to assisted living.”
“I believe that Oakland Township never intended for such a development as it is a “commercial” development and it is not appropriate for our lovely community.”
At the September 10, 2013 Board of Trustees meeting, AnnaLisa Hollenbeck stated that the developer, HUD and DOJ are terrorists and terrorizing the citizens of Oakland Township with their discrimination complaint and investigation.
The Township Planning Commission recommended approval of Blossom Ridge with 282 mixed density units in February, 2012.
Prior to the final hearing before the Board of Trustees, Dominic J. Moceri met with persons claiming to represent the hostile residents. He agreed to lower the Blossom Ridge unit count from 282 units to 238 units, and they agreed to drop their opposition.
The rezoning with a PRRO for 238 units with more than 50% open space was then approved by the previous Board of Trustees on August 14, 2012.
August 15, 2012 the developer filed an application for Special Accommodation Use.
On Oct. 9 2012 Recommended granting the Special Accommodation Use (SAU) application made by the developer.
The Board delayed its vote on the SAU until after the referendum.
“In an off cycle election angry residents voted from office all the Trustees who had voted for Blossom Ridge and replaced them with some of the most vehement opponents of Blossom Ridge. The new Township Board has stacked the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and two new Board of Trustee appointments so that all the Township’s governing bodies are comprised solely of persons opposed to Blossom Ridge and congregate housing for the elderly and disabled.”
“Some residents, including one later appointed to the Township Board, filed a petition for a referendum to cancel the previous Board’s rezoning. By Michigan statute the petition alone is sufficient to block the Blossom Ridge rezoning until a referendum is held.”
“The newly elected Township Board sought five legal opinions before reaching the decision to submit the rezoning to the Oakland County Coordinating Zoning Committee (“County Zoning Committee”) for review and recommendation.”
“The County Zoning Committee staff reported that Blossom Ridge would be consistent with the Township Master Plan, was a residential use and not a commercial use, would create less traffic than alternate uses, and would be in harmony with surrounding residential uses in Oakland Township and in neighboring towns. The staff also observed that Oakland Township’s zoning regime’s exclusion of multi-family housing violates Michigan law. The County Zoning Committee recommended approval of Blossom Ridge by a unanimous vote.”
” The County Zoning Committee approval left the Township Board with no more excuses for delaying the referendum, which was then held on August 6, 2013, in an off cycle election. ”
” Of the Township’s roughly 12,000 eligible voters, about 2800 voted. Approximately 2,000 voted to strike down the previous Board’s rezoning, and 800 voted in favor of Blossom Ridge. ”
“The Constitution’s Due Process and Equal Protection provisions and the anti-discrimination statutes cited in this Complaint protect individuals from the oppression of majorities. That Blossom Ridge was defeated by a referendum adds nothing to the strength of the Township’s position. The disabled are entitled to protection under law despite the notion of the “will of the people,” frequently cited by Blossom Ridge adversaries”
“As a result of the referendum petition and then referendum the Township remains as it was, a Township of thirty-six square miles burdened by a zoning regime which effectively bars all possibility of community housing providing the special services needed by the elderly and disabled.”
“The Township’s Special Accommodation Use ordinance states: This section is intended to authorize the grant of relief from the strict terms of the ordinance in order to provide equal housing opportunities particularly suited to the needs of persons entitled to reasonable accommodation under law and to encourage innovation in land use and variety in design and layout.”
“The new Board then delayed the referendum… more than a year later,… on November 13, 2013 the Supervisor recommended denial.”
“The Recommendation lacked any hint that the Defendant is bound by the FHA or that its governing body and residents must set aside their convenience and personal preferences so that the disabled can participate fully in the community.”
“At a meeting held on December 10, 2013, the Board of Trustees… voted unanimously (6-0 with one Trustee having recused herself) to deny the reasonable accommodation request under the SAU Ordinance “for the reasons stated in Supervisor Gonser’s recommendation to the Board.””
“Neither the Supervisor nor any Board member offered any reasonable evidence that the requested accommodation was “unreasonable” or imposed any significant burden on the Township or its residents.”
The Plaintiffs are asking the Court to:
This is a very much summarized recounting of the contents of the lawsuit the full text of which 2014_12_11 Moceri Buser Complaint.
The MICHIGAN PARALYZED VETERANS OF AMERICA (MPVA) have filed a lawsuit against Oakland Township in Federal Court after filing a complaint with the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2013. There is a link to the entire complaint document at the end of this post. I have summarized its 42 pages here. The suit complains that:
Oakland Township has “engaged in one or more discriminatory housing practices under the Federal Fair Housing Law, 42 U.S.C. sections 3601-3619″
“Oakland Township violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to approve the reasonable accommodation requested pursuant to the SAU Ordinance”
“Oakland Township acted intentionally, willfully, and in disregard for the rights of others.”
Their summary allegation, which is about the Proposed Blossom Ridge development, is that:
“Oakland Township has refused a reasonable accommodation to allow development of a multi-family housing development for the elderly and disabled”.
As background to this complaint the suit’s states that :
“The prior Township administration, consisting of a Board of Trustees, Planning Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals approved rezoning that would have permitted the development.”
Given that background, the primary act by the Township cited in the suit by that gives rise to this allegation is:
“An application was made for a reasonable accommodation pursuant to a special use accommodation provision that had been added to the Township’s zoning ordinance specifically to comply with the FHA. The application for special use accommodation was recommended for approval by the Township Supervisor, but was later denied by the new Township leadership who opposed the development.”
Recent U.S. Census data provides data about people who may require this kind of housing
|the total adult disabled population within an approximate 10 mile radius of the proposed development is approximately||38,000|
|persons age 65 and over with a disability within a 10 mile radius of the proposed development.||16,800|
|persons with a service-connected disability within a 10 mile radius of Oakland Township.||2,400|
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court:
LINKS TO VIEW RELATED MATERIAL
Use this link to view the 2014_12_05 PVA Federal Complaint.
Use this link to read Detroit Free Press editorial – Free Press Editorial
Use this link to read Oakland Press article – Oakland Press Article
Author’s note: This is an important event for Oakland Township citizens. This could involve a great deal of our taxpayers’ money in compensation and attorney fees. It will occupy our elected officers and board members with things other than their official duties. It could negatively affect the reputation of our community. The Board needs to hear from our citizens so please voice your opinion by phone calls, emails and attending Board meetings. The next Board meeting is Tuesday the 9th 7PM in the Township Hall.
What follows is a letter I have written to the editor of the Oakland Patch. It is in response to a number of letters Francis P. Hughes has written and has had published. I do not know if the editor will publish it, but because of the time sensitivity of an upcoming decision the Township Board must make, I am posting the letter here:
Letter to the Patch Editor,
Hi, my name is Richard Michalski. I am writing this letter in response to several letters that Francis P. Hughes has written to you calling me (and others) “shills”. I will refrain from making personal attacks but will ask for greater citizen involvement on a very critical issue facing Oakland Township.
Let me begin by saying that I am a 35 year resident of Oakland Township. I served on the Planning Commission for 26 years until 2008, when at my choosing I retired. Earlier this year, there was an issue facing the Township that got me ‘re-engaged’ as an ‘active’ citizen. Over the past several months I have witnessed a number of things that our Supervisor and Board have done that I believe are possibly illegal, but definitely contrary to some of the principles that have guided the Township in the past.
Arguably, the biggest issue facing our Township right now is the upcoming decision by our Board on whether to grant the Blossom Ridge Senior disabled development a “Special Accommodation Use”. The way Oakland Township has handled this development over the past 15 months is currently under review by the HUD and the DOJ for possible housing violations against a protected class of citizens. On December 10 there will be a public hearing on the Special Accommodation Use at the Township hall starting at 7 PM.
A fellow citizen of Oakland Township told me – “The outcome of the Blossom Ridge Special Accommodation Use decision places our Township’s “soul” at risk!” What the person went on to say is that if Oakland Township does not approve the request, and the DOJ comes in and forces Oakland Township to provide the needed Senior Disabled housing for our residents, Oakland Township will become known as THE exclusionary community in South East Michigan, and possibly all of Michigan.
The developer and the Township have made attempts at a compromise that meets the demands of some of the residents. On October 8th a revised plan was presented to the Board and the citizens. The group of citizens present was not satisfied. Mr. Hughes is part of the group that is opposed to the development. He is now suggesting that the developer cut the number of units in half again. He has referred to the development as “a huge Warehouse with cubbyhole sized apartments”. The developer reduced the number of proposed units from 342 to 282, then to 238, and now to 228. Mr. Hughes suggests the right number is 126. He has no basis for selecting that number.
I would encourage the citizens of Oakland Township to come to the December 10th Board meeting to learn more about the proposed development, the legal implications of the Board’s decision and voice your opinion – one way or the other. The Township’s “soul” may be at stake!