Category Archives: Planning and Zoning

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

A Conversation with Andy Zale – Candidate for Oakland Township Supervisor

** EDITORIAL Comment **

Jim Foulkrod

Andy Zale, currently the Chairman of the Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Commission, recently announced his candidacy for the office of Oakland Township Supervisor. Andy and I  recently had a wide ranging conversation about his reasons for running and the goals he wants to pursue if he is elected to the Office.

Our Supervisor must work better with the township staff and the Board of Trustees

Among the first things Andy told me was that he wants to Improve the relationship between the Township Supervisor and the Township staff and employees.  There has been too much turnover among the people who serve the township.  To some degree this loss of experienced talent has been caused by their interactions with the Township Supervisor.  Andy’s goal is to establish a standard of cordiality and mutual respect in working with the staff and consultants.

He would also work to Improve the tone and tenor of the Supervisor’s leadership of Board of Trustee Meetings.  Over the several years Supervisor Gonser’s leadership style has tended towards one of divisiveness, conflict, disrespect and petulance. In one case his remarks were so slanderous that it was necessary for him to publicly apologize at a subsequent meeting.  Andy’s tenure as Chairman of the Parks commission has been a demonstration of professionalism and leadership.

Planning and Zoning is important to our township

Andy said he is concerned that the Township’s current zoning ordinance is out of step with our Master Plan.  Early in 2010 the Planning Commission completed work on a new Zoning Ordinance that was intended to support the 2005 Master Plan.  The Commission forwarded the completed ordinance to the Board of Trustees with a recommendation that the Board vote their approval and put it into effect.  A group of citizens, some of whom were subsequently elected to the Board of Trustees in 2012, were vocal in their opposition to the new Zoning Ordinance and caused the Board of Trustees to delay its enactment. It is still waiting to be approved.  Andy will make it a high priority to get this cornerstone of our ordinances into effect.

Our Parks and Trails need to be supported

Supervisor Gonser, supported by Trustee Bailey who is currently also running for Supervisor, led an attack on our parks and the Parks Commission.  Gonser has opposed the trails plan from the beginning and  Trustee Mike Bailey was very outspoken in encouraging the Board to reject  the $1.7 million of grant money that would have built the Adams Road trail.  As a result of their actions  the nearly three million dollars of our tax money that we have already been assessed since we approved the millage in 2006 has, so far, yielded only 330 feet of completed Safety Path.

To Andy this is an unacceptable failure to respect the voters will as represented by both their approval of the millage and their responses to Township voter surveys .  Andy, an outdoors enthusiast,  has demonstrated his support for our parks and trails.  As Supervisor Andy  will work to see that our trails millage is used in the way that the millage proposal mandates  – “for the construction and maintenance of a network of safety paths, trails and boardwalks to provide healthy recreational opportunities and safe routes to schools, parks and neighborhoods in the Township”.  

Terry Gonser needs to be defeated

This publication has not been shy about saying that Gonser has not served this township well and that he should not be our Township Supervisor.  Voters have an opportunity to make a much needed change.

We are facing a three candidate race for Township Supervisor. Andy Zale has what it will take to win.  He understands that Terry Gonser will again run an aggressive campaign leveling untrue charges against himself and Mike Bailey .  Gonser will  again make vacant promises to special interests.  Andy has the courage, energy, dedication and stamina to take the high road in this campaign and emerge as the winner.

I urge everyone to vote in the August 2 2016 primary election and to vote for Andy Zale for Oakland Township Supervisor.

Jim Foulkrod

 

 

Oakland Township Board approves Oil and Gas Drilling ordinance

At the February 9, 2016 BOT meeting, the Oakland Township Board approved the proposed Oil and Gas drilling ordinance for Oakland Township.  The Board passed it in a unanimous 6 to 0 vote (Trustee Ferriolo was not at the meeting).  It was very clear from Board member comments that the Board was in favor of approving the Ordinance.  The purpose of the ordinance is to minimize the impact of oil and gas drilling operations in our Township.

Supervisor Gonser commented that his questions regarding the ordinance had been answered by MDEQ’s response to his request for clarification.  He concluded MDEQ “did not have disagreement with the ordinance.”  Others who read MDEQ’s response interpreted their response differently, but we are grateful for the unanimous support from the Board for the ordinance.

Thanks go to the the citizens that commented on the ordinance. Special thanks should be given to Erin Howlett, from Rochester Hills’ ‘Don’t Drill the Hill’s’, and Denise Demak, from Shelby’s ‘Citizens Against Residential Drilling’. Both helped Oakland Township learn from their community’s’ experience on this issue.

Here is a copy of the ordinance (an earlier agenda is included)

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

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  With the passage of the ordinance, Oakland Township is now protected, to the fullest extent under the law, from oil and gas drilling operations in higher density residential portions of our Township.  We thank the Board and the Planning Commission for moving rapidly on this issue.

Richard Michalski

IMPORTANT: Draft Ordinance controlling Oil and Gas drilling in Oakland Township in jeopardy

The efforts of our Township Board to control the location of oil and gas drilling operations in Oakland Township may be impacted by a memo from the Michigan DEQ.  The DEQ’s position is in response to a request from Supervisor Gonser.   As you may recall, Supervisor Gonser was opposed to moving forward with the Ordinance at the January BOT meeting.  The outcome of Oakland Township’s proposed Ordinance may be in jeopardy.

As previously reported on this website, the Oakland Township Board is considering an Ordinance to control the location of Oil and Gas drilling in Oakland Township.  A second reading of that Ordinance is schedule for the February 9, 2016 Board meeting.  Supervisor Gonser had previously expressed concerns over the Township’s authority to control oil and gas drilling. He voted against moving forward with the draft ordinance.  He contacted the DEQ and asked for their input.  Mr. Harold Fitch, the Assistant Supervisor of wells and Chief office of Oil and Gas & Minerals responded by saying:

“As demonstrated by the definitions (in the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act), the DEQ considers a broad range of operations as subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supervisor of wells and not subject to regulations by Township’s or Counties.”

He basically is saying we, as a Township, do not have any control over the location or operation of oil and gas drilling in our Township.

Here is a copy of his entire response to Supervisor Gonser’s request:

February 2, 2016 DEQ letter

Other communities have been struggling with this issue.  Townships have less control over oil and gas drilling operations than cities. However, Rochester Hills has been involved in recent disputes over their authority to control drilling in their city.  More recently, Southfield has been dealing with this issue.  Here are two current links to the Southfield issue:

Southfield Public meeting on Oil and Gas Drilling in their community

Rep. Jeremy Moss (Southfield) bill to control Oil and Gas Drilling locations

Here is a copy of our draft ordinance:

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

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Oakland Township may not have much control over oil and gas drilling in our community.  However, we should pursue as much control as possible within the constraints of the law.  At the January BOT meeting, our Township attorney and planning consultants both agreed with what is being proposed in the draft ordinance.  I trust that Supervisor Gonser’s requested input from the DEQ does not change their position on the proposed ordinance.

So what can we do:

  • Attend the February 9, 2016 Board meeting to express your opinion after listening to the discussion by our Township Attorney, Planning Consultant and Board members.
  • If not able to attend the February 9th meeting, watch the proceedings on the Township website, or Comcast cable channel, to learn more about this issue.
  • Contact your State representatives (Michael Webber <michaelwebber@house.mi.gov> or Brad Jacobsen <bradjacobsen@house.mi.gov>) asking them to support Representative Moss’ bill allowing more local control over oil and gas drilling locations.

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

 

Key Blossom Ridge Consent Judgment information discussed at January 26, 2016 BOT meeting

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,

  • On Playlist tab, click on Board of Trustees 2016
  • On Video tab, click on January 26, 2016 BOT meeting
  • On Chapter tab, click on Chapter 5

It will take you to the 4:50 (minute:second) point in the meeting.

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

  • The Former Oakland County Chief Judge Barry Howard, who was the arbitrator in this case, gives his presentation until the 27:40 point in the meeting.
  • Between 27:40 and 52:20, Oakland Township Planning Consultant, Dick Carlisle, discusses the proposed development from a planning perspective using our zoning ordinance as a guide.
  • Between 52:20 and 96:00, Township attorney Dan Kelly give his report on the legal implication of this case.

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.

Richard Michalski

Board of Trustees should follow the advice of attorneys on the Blossom Ridge Settlement Proposal

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.

Attorneys recommending acceptance:

  • Dan Kelly – Township Attorney
  • Judge Barry Howard – Facilitator
  • Dale Stuart – Township Manager
  • Carol A. Rosatti – Attorney for the Township’s insurer

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.

A case in point: A letter from 18 residents contains legal fallacies

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 fallacy of consent judgment precedence:

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.

If the township loses, the Federal Court could force changes to our Zoning Ordinance:

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.

Jim Foulkrod