Category Archives: Uncategorized

Oakland Township Supervisor Dominic Abbate resigns

At the November 15, 2022 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Dominic Abbate announced that he had submitted his resignation letter with an effective date of November 30th. Dominic gave personal reasons for his decision to resign. The Board had to vote on a motion to accept his resignation. The Board reluctantly approved the motion to accept his resignation.

The Board is now responsible for selecting the Township Supervisor. The process they will use is that any existing Board member can submit their name for consideration. They also indicated that they would consider any resident who was interested, once they filled out an application form that is available on the Townships’s website. The Board will select the Supervisor at a future Board meeting.

Here is a link to the form for applying for the Township Supervisor position. It is the same for other positions in the Township

https://cms4files1.revize.com/oakland/community_info/docs/BOARDS_AND_COMMISSION_APPLICATION.pdf

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO THE CITIZENS OF OAKLAND TOWNSHIP?

Dominic Abbate has been active in Oakland Township for almost 50 years. Dominic first got involved in the Township when Al Taylor was our Supervisor in the 70’s. Dominic has served as a Trustee, Planning Commission member, Board of Review member, and many other positions. He has played a major role in creating the wonderful Township called Oakland. His knowledge and thoughtful demeanor has made him a refreshing leader in our community. He has commanded the respect from all those who have worked with him. We are grateful for his dedicated service to our Township.

The Board now has the important task of selecting our Supervisor. He/she will hold that office until the election in November of 2024. As the Board considers the candidates, citizen input will be important in helping them make an informed decision that could have lasting impact on our Township.

Richard MIchalski

Township Board decides Water Storage Location

On Thursday November 10, the Oakland Township Board made a 4 to 3 decision to place the water storage facility for the Southwest water district of Oakland Township on Kern Road. This decision was made despite significant resident input to place it at the Adams Road and Gunn location.

The Oakland Township Board was fully present for this meeting. When the water storage location agenda item came up, Trustee Maybry made a motion to select the Adams Road location. The Board members then discussed the motion among themselves. Clerk Buxar went through a Powerpoint presentation where she attempted to answer many of the questions and comments residents had made during previous meetings. She went through it very quickly. The information had not been made available to the residents prior to the meeting, and was not included in the posted packet on the Township website. Many residents complained they could not read the information on the screens in the room. The Board opened it up for citizen comment. The input from the residents was mostly supportive of the motion. The Board then took a vote, and the motion failed. Those voting in favor of the Adams Road location included Supervisor Abbate and Trustees Maybry and Mangiapani. Clerk Buxar, Treasurer Giannangeli and Trustees Elder and Zale voted against the Adams Road location.

A motion to select the Kern Road location was then made by Trustee Zale. The Board continued discussion and then opened it up for citizen input. Once again, the citizens indicated that they preferred the Adams Road location. Trustee Buxar pointed out that her experience with controversial issues is that resident usually take the position “NOT IN MY BACKYARD”. After the Board approved the Kern Road location, one of the residents pointed out that the Board had the option to not place the storage facility in ANYONE’s backyard (the Adams Road location), but instead chose to place it in resident’s FRONT yard. Those voting for the Kern Road location included Clerk Buxar, Treasurer Giannangeli, Trustee’s Elder and Zale.

One thing that had not been made clear to the public in all the discussions on this topic is that the Township owns a parcel of land at the Adams Road and Buell Road intersection. The purpose for having purchased that land was to provide a possible location for a Fire and EMS facility to help cover the needs of the SW district of Oakland Township. The Buell Road location is only one mile north of the Adams and Gunn Road location. For some reason, the Board was not willing to accommodate the citizen’s desires to have the storage facility on Adams and Gunn, and still meet the fire and police protection needs of the Township by using both the Adams/Gunn Road location AND/OR the Adams/Buell Road location for the Fire/EMS and Police stations.

The Board Board members who supported the Kern Road location based their decision on that fact that they thought fewer people would be negatively impacted by the visual appearance of the facility at Kern, that the Adams Road location would cost slightly more, and that placing the storage facility on Adams would limit the possible use of the Adams Road location for new Fire, EMS and Police stations, even though the Adams/ Buell Road location could be used to help meet those needs. An attorney for the residents of The Crossings pointed out that the agenda was to consider the location of the water storage facility, NOT a fire or police station.

If you want to watch the Township Board meeting, you can click on the following link: https://videoplayer.telvue.com/player/KGL-y_dHhCluQTy7c6YoVBzzQ5eHj7Lr/media/757760?autostart=true&showtabssearch=true

Why is this important to the Residents of Oakland Township?

We elect our officials to make decisions that are in our best interests. When our elected officials chose to neglect citizen input, without building a convincing case for why they made the decision they make, we may have elected the wrong individuals. The Board’s decision may result in higher legal fees if the resident of The Crossings, or even Orion Township decide to legally challenge this decision. Residents should keep the Board’s decision on this matter in mind when they consider who they vote for in 2024.

Richard Michalski

Will Oakland Township Board make decision at SPECIAL MEETING on November 10th???

The Oakland Township Board has scheduled a SPECIAL MEETING for November 10th at 7 PM at the Township Hall to presumably make a decision on the location of the mandated water storage facility for the Southwest Water District of Oakland Township. Hopefully this time all of the Board members will show up for this critical decision.

Here is a copy of the agenda for this meeting:

As a reminder, the State of Michigan has mandated that the Township provide a 1 million gallon water storage facility for the residents located in the Southwest water district of our Township. Here is a map showing the various water districts in our Township. The residents directly affected live in the yellow area. They use the water mains shown with the green lines on the map.

The Township Board has settled in on two possible locations for the storage facility. One is in The Crossings subdivision off Kern Road. The other is on near the corner of Adams and Gunn Road. Here are the two locations shown on an arial view map.

Here are closer arial shots of the Kern Road proposed location, as well as a view from the cul-de-sac of those most impacted by selecting this location.

The Adams Road/Gunn Road location is a parcel that has the potential of being donated to the Township as part of the PUD agreement a developer has made with the Township. The approval was contingent upon a water tower location being selected (the deadline for that agreement has passed, but apparently the offer is still on the table). The Township is considering using that location for a Firehouse, and a possible Police substation. A question was raised by Trustee Elder as to whether the 5.7 acre parcel could also accommodate the water storage facility. A DRAFT plan was developed that show how such a plan could be accomplished. It also shows the water storage facility in Commerce Township as well as some architectural ideas on how the site could be made more appealing by taking on a farming community theme. Here is a copy of that plan:

Here are sight lines from the road showing how berm and tree plantings could be used to block the view from the road.

The agenda also has an item that appears to be aimed at trying to deflect criticism for why 4 of the Board members did not show up for the Special Meeting that was scheduled and posted for last week.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?

The decision the Board will presumably make will have an impact on the Township for many years. Once the storage location is chosen, it will probably never be moved. The Board has delayed making this decision for years. Those delays have resulted in the cost for this facility being much higher than it could have been a few years ago.

The residents in The Crossings have made their preference for the Adams Road location known to the Board. The purpose of the meeting on Thursday is to make a decision. Your input could influence where it goes. Each of the Board members should make the rationale for their decision very clear. Our next election for the Township Officers and the Trustees will be in 2024. Many citizens will look back on this decision when they make THEIR decision in 2024.

Richard Michalski

Coincidence, Coordination, Corruption or Just Politics on Water Storage Location Meeting??

There was suppose to be an Oakland Township Board meeting on Tuesday November 1 at 2 PM to continue the discussion and make a decision on the Water Storage Location facility for the Southwest Water Region of Oakland Township. The meeting was posted and presumably had agreement from enough members of the Board to form a quorum prior to the meeting notice being posted. Unfortunately only 3 Board members showed up for the meeting. It takes 4 to form a quorum. There were about 25 residents present for the meeting. Since there was no quorum, it was not an official meeting, and hence no decision. Supervisor Abbate allowed the residents present to comment on the topic. The unofficial meeting was televised and is recorded.

After the meeting, Supervisor Abbate commented to the author that, earlier that morning, he had received messages from three of the four Board members who were not present, that they were not able to attend the meeting. All three messages came to him within about a three minute window.

Is it coincidence that all three determined that they could not attend the meeting at about the same time that morning? Is there collusion among the three that they would all not show up? Is there corruption in their motives to further delay this critical decision? OR is it just politics?

At the October 25th Board meeting, the Board was deadlocked in a 3 to 3 split on where to locate the storage facility. The November 1 meeting was scheduled in order to make a decision on the matter.

The timing for the meeting was critical because the parcel for one of the locations was part of a potential donation to the Township. That donation had a deadline for making a water storage facility location decision. That deadline has already passed, and a further delay could further jeopardize the donation of the parcel.

As a personal note, one of the Board members stopped by my house with his child during “Trick or Treat” the night before the scheduled meeting. He asked me if I was going to attend. He asked for my opinion on the issue, and I shared it with him. He gave no indication that he was not going to attend. He left me with the impression that he was planning on attending the meeting.

Yes, things happen that can force planned participation to change, but all three Board members making a decision within a few minutes of one another???

Why is this important to the Residents of Oakland Township?

This decision has already been delayed for too long. Holding Elected Official responsible for making INFORMED TIMELY decisions is OUR responsibility. It is THEIR responsibility to make those decisions. RUNNING AWAY from making the decisions demonstrates a lack of leadership. They are suppose to be our leaders. We need to hold them accountable. Our next election for Board positions is in 2024. Those who did not show up at the November 1 meeting are : Clerk Buxar, Treasurer Giannangeli, Trustees Zale and Elder.

Richard Michalski

OCTOBER 28TH UPDATE: OAKLAND TOWNSHIP WATER STORAGE LOCATION DECISION

SPECIAL BOARD MEETING SCHEDULED FOR TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1 AT 2 PM AT TOWNSHIP HALL

Since the October 25th Oakland Township Board meeting some work has been done to answer concerns three of the Board members had regarding the use of the Adams Road location for the water storage facility for the Southwest water district of Oakland Township. The Board has scheduled a Special Meeting for November 1, 2022 at 2:00 PM to discuss this matter and possibly make a decision. The concerns articulated by the three Board members supporting the Kern Road location were:

  • Desire to preserve the potential use of the proposed donated 5.7 acre parcel for maximum beneficial use for ALL residents of Oakland Township.
  • Desire to see a plan for Adams Road site that includes Firehouse, Police substation, EMS and water storage facility
  • Visual impact of water storage facility on residents and travelers on roads near water storage facility
  • Environmental impact
  • Cost

The following discussion attempts to respond to these issues.

Maximizing benefit to all residents and site plan

Oakland Township Leadership has recognized a need for added Fire, EMS and police support in the Southwest portion of our Township for some time. Our EMS response times are currently not consistently meeting the County recommendation to be less than 6 minutes. The Board has considered the use of the 5.7 acre potentially donated parcel as a site for having a new Fire Station, EMS and Police substation to satisfy this growing need in our Township. This potential use was part of the Board’s decision to approve the Arimus Villa’s PUD development on October 25th. However, at least one of the Board members (Trustee Elder) was not convinced that adding the water storage facility to the other desired uses on the parcel could be accomplished, hence his reluctance to agree to have the water storage facility added to that site.

Trustee Elder commented at the October 25th meeting that “I’m OK putting it (the water storage facility) wherever” but he also said “I’d like to see a study on how we would layout a Police, Fire and EMS unit on this site”. He went on to say that he saw some information that indicated that adding the water storage facility was not feasible.

A draft site plan showing how the Police, Fire/EMS AND water storage facility could fit on the site was developed by Giffels Webster. It includes the ‘footprint’ of Oakland Township’s Firehouse 2, as well as substantially the same ‘footprint’ as the new Orion Township Police substation, along with a water storage facility that would meet our current building elevation requirement of 35 feet. This plan will be shown later in this discussion.

Visual Impact

The overwhelming issue regarding the location of the water storage facility is the visual impact it has on residents who live near the facility, or those driving past the facility. Clearly, Kern Road will have less traffic than Adams Road. However, more current residents of both Oakland Township, and Orion Township will be directly negatively impacted with it being located on Kern Road.

Many residents shared with the Board that a decision to place the facility on Kern road impacts many more current homeowners. Placing the facility on Adams will impact a few current owners. It may influence future homeowner’s decision to purchase in the Artimus development. The developer for the Artimus PUD has already mitigated that issue by placing large berms between the 5.7 acre site and the development.

The visual impact of any structure can be either ugly or appealing. A large water storage structure can challenge the creativity to accomplish an appealing structure. Commerce Township has done a marvelous job in making their water storage facility as attractive as possible. In the plan that is shown below, you will see picture of their 2 million gallon storage facility.

Berming and tree plantings can also be used to minimize the view of the storage facility. View ‘site lines’ from Adams road show how these techniques can be used to minimize the visibility of the storage facility.

Finally, regarding visual impact, as one of our resident, James Carter former Oakland Township Planning Commission Chairperson, suggested we could actually use the design of the Fire station, the Police Substation and the water facility to accentuate the historical farming character of our Township. The Adam’s Road complex could become a showcase for our Township, while serving the multiple functional needs of our community. The plan shown below shows several architectural concepts that could provide added character to our Township.

Environmental Impact

The two issues raised here were the impact of the additional tree removal from the site and the potential added cost and issues with the unregulated ‘wetland’. First, regarding the tree removal. The consultants report indicated that approximately 1.5 acres of trees would have to be cleared. It did not state how many acres of trees would have to be cut to accommodate the Police and Fire Station usage. Also, the trees used to help hide the water storage facility would offset some of the loss of trees. Secondly, the unregulated wetland issue is one that is not significant, in that, even though the consultant mentioned it in their report, they did not list it as an issue in their summary of pro’s and con’s for the site.

Cost

The consultant’s cost estimate comparing the two sites concluded that the Kern Road site was “Slightly lower cost because the site is already developed”. Several residents from the Crossings Subdivision said that since they were part of the group that will ultimately pay for the facility, they thought the minimal increase in price was worth it to them to have it on Adams Road. It should be noted that the consultants analysis did not review the draft site plan shown below.

Another point is that some of the ‘site development’ costs that would be incurred for placing the water treatment site at Adams, would also be required when putting in a Fire Station or Police substation.

DRAFT SITE PLAN WITH WATER STORAGE, POLICE AND FIRE/EMS

SITE LINES FROM ADAMS ROAD

Why is this important to the residents of Oakland Township?

Will the information shown above influence any of the Board members to support a decision to place the facility on Adams? Your continued input, especially to those that seemed open to considering the Adams location (Trustee Elder and Clerk Buxar??) could make a difference. The final decision is one that will impact the Township for many years to come. Further delay in a decision will certainly result in higher costs, and possibly a much higher density development on the Northeast corner of Adams and Gunn Roads.

Attend the November 1 meeting if you can!!!

Richard Michalski

Oakland Township’s indecision on water storage facility may have significant consequences for Township

On October 25, 2022 the Oakland Township Board was locked in a three to three ‘deadlocked’ position regarding the location for the Michigan State mandated water storage facility for Oakland Township’s Southwest water district system. Three Board members wanted the facility located in The Crossings Subdivision at Kern Road, in spite of significant resident input to the contrary, while three members wanted the facility located on a potentially donated 5 Acre parcel of land across from Delta Kelly school on Adams and Gunn. Clerk Buxar did not attend the meeting. Neither location was approved. As a result, the Township may no longer receive the donated parcel.

BACKGROUND

Several years ago, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy required that Oakland Township install a one million gallon water storage facility to protect the many residents who have their water supplied by several pumps linked together in the Southwest region of the Township. The Southwest water system is shown on the following map as well as the other water systems in the Township. The residents that are directly impacted are those living in the subdivisions in the SW system that are serviced by the water mains shown in light green.

The Township has spend several years studying how best to meet the mandated requirement from the State for the Southwest system and other systems in the Township. After years of study, the Board selected two possible sites for final consideration. As stated earlier, one is located in The Crossings Subdivision on Kern Road, the other is on the Northeast corner of Adams and Gunn across from Delta Kelly School. Here is an arial view of the two proposed locations.

The Kern Road proposal would locate the storage facility next to an existing water supply pump house servicing that subdivision, and is linked to others in the district. The parcel of land is 1.7 acres.

The Adams Road proposal would locate the facility on a 5.7 acre parcel that is directly across the street from the Delta Kelly School on Adams and Gunn. The parcel is part of the proposed ARTEMIS VILLA Planned Unit Development. The donation of that parcel is a critical part of the Township’s agreement with ARTIMUS to use the Planned Unit Development option for their development. It is the “Public Benefit Essential Services” element of the plan that allows the more liberal Planned Unit Development option to be used. The ARTIMUS VILLA development is a 25 acre development with 38 site condominiums. It is located further east on Gunn Road, from the proposed 5.7 acre parcel. The development WAS approved on the 25th contingent upon the Township ultimately approving a water storage facility in the Southwest Water system district.

It was announced, at the October 25th Board meeting, that October 26th was the deadline given by the ARTIMUS developer for approving a water storage location as part of their agreement to donate the 5.7 acre parcel. Why the Board waited this long to make a decision on the storage location was not disclosed. Since the Board had not approved either water storage location, the developer has the option to back out of the agreement. The ultimate fate of the ARTIMUS PUD, the potentially donated parcel, and the water storage location is all uncertain at this time.

Getting back to the storage location issue, the Township hired a consultant company to analyze the positive and negative aspects of the Kern Road and Adams Road proposals. Here is a summary of that analysis.

The Board members were to use this information in their decision making process. Three of the Board members voted for the Adams Road location. Three voted for the Kern Road location. The ‘deadlock’ resulted in neither one be approved, even though there were dozens of comment from residents at both the October 25th, meeting and last month’s Board meeting, supporting the Adams Road location.

Here is a video of the rationale from Trustee Mabry supporting the Adams Road location.

Here is a video of the rationale from Trustee’s Elder, Zale and Giannangeli supporting the Kern Road location.

The following photographs are intended to demonstrate the impact a 45 foot tall water storage facility on Kern Road would have on the residents who live the closest to the proposed location.

At the end of the meeting on the 25th, Trustee Elder commented that he previously received a Powerpoint presentation from Trustee Buxar (who was not present at the meeting) regarding the water storage issue. He indicated that it helped him formulate his opinion on the matter. It apparently had not been shared with all the Board members, or the public. The Board asked him to send a copy of the presentation to the entire Board. As a result, it is safe to say that had Clerk Buxar been present, the Kern Road location would have been approved.

After the Buxar Powerpoint presentation was mentioned, Trustees Zale and Giannangeli attempted to pressure one of the Trustees, who supported the Adams Road location, to reopen the matter for decision that evening. They appear to have known how Clerk Buxar would vote. They also appeared to have made this request in order to prevent the possibility of the ARTEMIS developer retracting their offer for the land donation. None of the other three Trustees agreed to reopen the matter. They still felt there might be some way to have the Adams Road location selected. Here is a video of that dialog.

Why is this important to the residents of Oakland Township?

Oakland Township residents elect our officials to make decisions that are in the best interest of the citizens. Citizen input is a key part of making sure their voices are heard, and influence the decisions officials make. The many comments made by residents supporting the Adams Road location clearly did not influence three (and likely 4) of the Board members. The rationale for selecting the Kern Road location seems counter to the will of our residents. Are there other factors that have not been shared with the residents that influenced their decision? (Note the Buxar presentation that had not been shared with the entire Board or public).

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

It appears that the water storage location decision will be a topic for next month’s Board meeting. What is not known is whether the ARTEMIS PUD development will proceed or not, given the fact the water storage deadline has passed. Can any of the 4 Board members supporting the Kern Road location be made to change their mind? Can the Board members provide more rationale for their support of the Kern Road location? Concerned citizens may still be able to influence the direction the Board ultimately takes on this issue. Please continue to provide your input to the Board through emails on this matter. Also, attend the next Board meeting that is currently scheduled for November 15th.

Parks and Recreation Commission Candidate for August 2nd Primary

Attached is information on an Oakland Township resident who is running for a Parks and Recreation position in the August 2nd primary election. After the last election, one of the elected Commissioners resigned. The Township Board filled the seat by appointing an individual. The rules require that the seat be filled with an elected individual at the next available election. For that reason, there is only one Commissioner position on the ballot this time. Please consider MATT PEKLO when you vote on August 2nd. His qualifications are listed below. You can also go to his website for more information on his priorities.

VOTE AUGUST 2ND IN THE REPUBLICAN PROMARY

MATT PEKLO for Parks and Recreation Commissioner

·      30-year-old lifelong Oakland Township resident dedicated to protecting our natural areas from development while managing money wisely.

·      Graduated with degrees in Natural Resources Management and Economics

·      Worked 3 summers during college as a stewardship technician in Oakland Township Parks and knows our parks extremely well

·      Currently working in the energy industry helping homeowners save money and reduce carbon emissions

·      Committed to seeking easier, more effective community input about our parks from all township residents

·      Married and owns a home between two of our parks.

·      Dedicated to family-friendly parks where children can learn and explore nature at its healthiest and best!

·      Strongly endorsed by Colleen Barkham, Paul Tomboulian, Joe Peruzzi and Trevor Barkham  – names you’ve come to trust in relation to the welfare of our parks!

Learn more and Donate at www.pekloforparks.com

One example of Oakland Township’s history of Land Preservation

I thought it would be appropriate to share a video of the prairie restoration work that continues in Oakland Township along the Paint Creek Trail. This is a video from several years ago, but the work continues.

A new park will be opening soon along the trail to give the public greater access to the trail. The park is on Orion Road near Clarkston Road. It will be called Paint Creek Junction Park (a reference to the old rail system that traveled the path).

Oakland Township continues to be supportive of land preservation and ecological restoration.

Dick Michalski

WHAT DOES LAND PRESERVATION MEAN IN OAKLAND TOWNSHIP

At the Oakland Township Board meeting held on April 12, 2022, it became clear that there is not a common “vision” between the Township Board and the Parks & Recreation Commission as to what our Parks and, more significantly, Land Preservation parcels should be in our Township. This issue became apparent in trying to define what work was to be done on the recently purchased Lost Lake Nature Park expansion (renamed the Fox Nature Preserve at the meeting).

The meeting was attended by many people supporting the Parks and Recreation Commission’s understanding of land preservation.  This approach focuses on eliminating invasive plant species, improving conditions for historically native plants to return and thrive, and improving the conditions for young oak trees to thrive in “Oakland” Township so, as the existing trees die, new ones will replace them.  These things in turn provide environments for beneficial insects and birds to thrive in the Township.

The meeting was also attended by many people who live near the Fox Preserve property who do not want to see the property change from what exists now.  For them, it appears that preservation means – let it stay as it is, or let the property evolve with little or no active management.  Some were concerned that changing what is out there now will result in loss of the wildlife that currently live in that environment.  

This lack of a common understanding of what land preservation means, and more importantly, how Oakland Township wants to implement land preservation, needs to be jointly agreed upon between the Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission before our Township can move forward satisfying all of our Township residents desires.  

This agreement must be based on Oakland Township citizen input:

Should the decision on a specific property be based solely on the input from adjacent property owners?  

Should their input affect the entire property? 

Should adjacent property owner input be factored only in “buffer zones”?

What about the voice of the remainder of Oakland Township citizens?  

Does the strategy the Board and Parks Commission selects preclude Oakland Township from getting future grants to fund land purchases?

The Board’s decisions on April 12 will not resolve the issues going forward.  Their decisions may place Oakland Township’s ability to fully meet the requirements of the grant fund for the land purchase in jeopardy.  If the requirements are not met, we may have to return the + $3 million received in the grant. 

Several citizens as well as the Parks and Recreation Commission members suggested a joint meeting with the Board to get everyone on the same ‘wavelength’.  The Board has refused to respond to this request.  

The decisions the Board made on April 12 appear to primarily be based on the opinions of the property owners near the newly acquired property. The Board needs to get broader input on this strategic decision for the Township.

FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, THE BALL IS NOW IN THE BOARD’S COURT!

Richard Michalski

(site manager and Oakland Township Planning Commissioner for 27 years)