Category Archives: Planning and Zoning

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

Township Board hears input from citizens on Draft Zoning Ordinance 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

Definitions Section 16-200 to 227

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

Home Occupation – Section 16-323

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

Bed and Breakfast – Section 16-505

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

Enforcement of OrdinanceSection 16-110 & 16-111

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

AnimalsSections 16-202A & 16-306

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

Test PlanSection 16-343

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

Cell towerSection 16-416

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

Home sizeSection 16-312

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

Assisted Living facility for elderlySection 16-408

  • 10 acre requirement is too restrictive – should be less

Change in parcel size on gravel roadSection 16-403

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

UPDATE: September 13, 2016 controversial Board topics

As previously reported, there were a number of potentially controversial issues discussed at the September 13, 2016 Oakland Township Board meeting.  This is a brief update on the decisions made on those topics:

A developer’s request to extend an expiring sewer tap pay back program

  • The Board, in a 6 to 1 vote, rejected the request, indicating that the original legal agreement was to be followed as it was written.  Supervisor Gonser was the dissenting vote.

A Pulte request to approve a Preliminary Site Condominium request for 57 units on the northeast corner of Adams and Gunn Road (across from Delta Kelly School)

  • The Board voted to table, in a 7 to 0 vote, a decision on this request, pending a review of the many factors that could influence the availability of ‘sewer taps’ for the development.  Once the sewer tap issue is resolved, the developer would then be able to make a decision whether to proceed as they currently plan, or not.

2016 Millage levy setting

  • The 2016 millages were approved, in a 6 to 1 vote, at the carry-over levels but comprehending the “Headlee rollback” calculations. Supervisor Gonser was dissenting vote.

Hunting in Oakland Township

  • The Board requested that the Township Planner work with the Township Manager and Attorney to come back to the Board with a recommendation regarding hunting in Oakland Township.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Probably the most important issue that was raised in this meeting was the potential of changing Oakland Township’s sewer tap policy.  If the policy changes, the density of development in Oakland Township could significantly be impacted, since land can be developed with smaller lots if the property is serviced by sewers.

Full transparency by the Board is essential to make sure our citizens understand the reasons for any change to our long standing, and effective, sewer tap policy.

Richard Michalski

Traffic light at Adams and Gunn Road

Many of you have now experienced the traffic issues resulting from the four way flashing stop light at the intersection of Adams and Gunn Roads (especially during rush hour traffic).  The north-south traffic backs up for almost a half mile.  Even though there are very few vehicles traveling east-west on Gunn (except when Delta Kelly students are being dropped off or picked up), every car traveling on Adams must stop.

While I was stuck in that mess last week, there was a tailgating accident a few cars in front of me.  Stop and go traffic, along with texting, were probably the reasons for the accident.  I suspect there have been, and will continue to be, more accidents like that.

There have been a number of serious accidents at that intersection prior to them putting in the four way light. Clearly something had to be done.  I called the road commission today, and they informed me that the four way light will probably be there for two years.  They indicated that they must procure additional property at the intersection to increase line-of-sight – and “that takes time”.  ARE YOU WILLING TO PUT UP WITH THIS FOR TWO YEARS?

So what can you do?  Here is a link to the Road Commission website.  If you fill out the form on line with your comments and concerns, maybe we can influence their timing, if not the type of design solution they chose, for this intersection.  Currently they are considering a four way regular light or a traffic circle.  I am not sure it will have an impact, but two years is a long time to have the current situation in place.

Here is the link to the Road Commission website:

http://www.rcocweb.org/FormCenter/Contact-Us-4/Contact-Us-Form-43

One final comment, as reported in a recent post, Pulte is wanting to add 57 homesite on the North-East corner of Adams and Gunn, adding to the traffic congestion at that intersection.  When they brought their initial request to the Planning Commission two years ago, they were told they needed to provide a traffic study of the impact of their proposed development.  As of the July 2016 Planning Commission meeting, they had refused to perform the study.  In July, the Planning Commission rejected their proposal because they did not have sewer taps and had not performed the traffic study (among other things).  You may want to come to the September 13 Oakland Township Board meeting to express your opinion on that proposed development.  

Richard Michalski

Controversial items on September 13th Township Board meeting

First of all we hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable summer.  There have not been many posts on the website this summer, other than the results of the primary elections in August.  However, Township business is picking up.

There are a number of controversial items on Tuesday’s (September 13) Township Board meeting.  The topics that will probably receive the most discussion at the meeting include:

  • A developer’s request to extend an expiring sewer tap pay back program
  • A Pulte request to approve a Preliminary Site Condominium request for 57 units on the northeast corner of Adams and Gunn Road (across from Delta Kelly School)
  • 2016 Millage levy setting
  • Hunting in Oakland Township

As always, resident input on topics may influence the decisions the Board makes.  

If you have opinions on these matters, please either attend the meeting, or send an email to the Township Board with your thoughts on these topics.

Here is a copy of the agenda for the meeting:  

September 13, 2016 BOT agenda

You can go to the Township’s official website http://www.oaklandtownship.org to read additional documentation on these agenda items:

  • Click on ‘Township Documents’ at bottom of page
  • Click on ‘Misc Documents’ on left side of page under Public Documents
  • Click on ‘BOT Packet Sept 13, 2016 part 1‘ & ‘2’ – scroll down to the topics of interest

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  These agenda items not only will have a financial impact on all of us and the Township, they will also have a long term impact on the character of our community.

The balance between the wishes of current residents of Oakland Township and property owners who want to develop their land is maintained by the State and Local laws and ordinances.  The developers often want to ‘push the envelope‘ or ‘work the boundaries’ of the ordinances to their advantage.  Having a well informed community support their elected leaders ensure the ordinances to the full intent of the law is essential in protecting our community.  Your participation will help them do that.

Richard Michalski

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

Comparison chart of candidates for Oakland Township Supervisor position – One Editor’s Opinion

The cutoff date for submitting petitions by individuals who are interested in running for office is rapidly approaching.  April 19th is the cutoff date.  As of today, I am aware of three candidates who have submitted their signed petitions for Supervisor.  As I stated in a previous post, there are two editors for this website- myself and Jim Foulkrod.  We have differences of opinion regarding who is the best candidate for the Supervisor position.  However, we both agree that current Supervisor Gonser is not the best person for the position based on his actions and performance over the past 3+ years.

I have put together a comparison chart that shows the qualities I would like to see in our next Supervisor.  I included my perspective on each candidate in those areas.  You may have other criteria & perspectives that you feel will influence your voting decision this summer.

Here is the comparison chart (click on image to enlarge):

Candidate comparison chart - RJM

For even LARGER image, click on following link:

Oakland Township Supervisor candidate comparison chart

Please review the chart, and feel free to comment on the various candidates.  Please do not use ‘pseudonyms’ or inappropriate comments

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  As many of you know, we have had a very turbulent 3+ years since Supervisor Gonser came to office.  We need to make sure we select a Supervisor that will prevent our citizens, and surrounding communities, from questioning:

“What in the world is going on in Oakland Township?”

A thoughtful analysis of the candidates and your informed decision, will help make sure that happens.

From my perspective, Mike Bailey is the right choice for that position!

Richard Michalski