Tag Archives: Planning and Zoning in Oakland Township

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to all those that attended the meeting!

Richard Michalski

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

Shelby well rig (1)

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

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

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

                                              DATE:     TUESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2016

                                             TIME:  7 PM      

                                             LOCATION: OAKLAND TOWNSHIP HALL – 4393 COLLINS RD.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Drilling for Oil and Gas coming to Oakland Township?

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

Richard Michalski

January 8, 2016

Do Gonser’s actions suggest he places his political agenda above the needs of the Township?

Supervisor Gonser appears to be placing his own political agenda over the critical needs of the community.  His two planning commission nominees at the August 31, 2015 Special Board meeting do not have the critical skills that members of the Board and the Planning Commission feel are needed.  He also failed to nominate qualified candidates at the September 8, 2015 Board meeting.  He is choosing to ignore individuals with Township planning experience that have applied for the open Planning Commission positions.

Oakland Township’s Planning Commission currently has only five commissioners.  Their combined planning experience level is less than 8 years.  There should be seven members of the commission.  As reported previously, Supervisor Gonser’s two nominees for the vacancies were not acceptable to the other six members of the Township Board.   Neither of his nominees had enough Planning Commission or Township experience to fill the voids created by Gonser’s previous nominees to the Planning Commission.

At the special August 31, 2015 Board meeting, Gonser nominated two individuals who had no experience in Oakland Township Planning, Zoning or other subcommittee events.  The Supervisor had received a total of 5 applications for the open positions well before the August 31st special Board meeting.  Two of the applicants have significant Planning, Zoning, or even Township Trustee experience.  Another applicant has been very involved in Oakland Township activities, and is a member of the Safety Path and Trails subcommittee.  Two of the  three individuals with Township planning, zoning or subcommittee experience live on large parcels in the Township.

Gonser claimed his selections were based on a need to have women on the Planning Commission, and that he wanted to nominate individuals who live on acreage.  Based on Gonser’s stated reasons for his nominations, he did not find the experience of the 5 early applicants to be a compelling reason to justify their nomination.  He therefore solicited applications from the two individuals he nominated at the August 31, 2015 meeting.  Their applications were submitted on August 27th and 28th, just days before the meeting.

During citizen comments, an individual commented that he thought Gonser’s appointments were political.  Gonser responded by saying:

“These are not political appointments.  These are not political people.”

Later in the meeting, Parks and Recreation Commission member Roger Schmidt, husband of Barbara, one of Gonser’s nominees stated:

“When THEY got me in, I came home from my first (Parks and Recreation) meeting, I was not very happy, and my wife said why did one individual dislike me so much to get me on this Commission (Gonser laughs in background).  Well, I did not run to be on this Commission.  I ran to help people get elected on the Board because things were not going well..”

The other nominee Mrs. Landers stated:

” . . . and I think the biggest thing that I did. . . . I did have faith in a lot of people.  I single handedly brought together the first ever big community ‘meet and greet’ that we had that allowed people to meet all the people that are on our Board and everything now.”

Here is a video of portions of the August 31st meeting:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The Supervisor is disregarding the desires of the other Board members, and the seated Planning Commission members.  They have indicated a need  to have additional Planning experience added to the Commission.  Gonser appears to be placing his own political agenda over the needs of the community, the request from his previously appointed Planning Commissioners and fellow Board members.

His two nominees may not be political people, but clearly based on the comments made at the August 31 meeting, the husband of one of them got involved in politics in order to help Gonser get elected, and the other nominee sponsored a political get together to help Gonser (and others)  get elected.  To Mrs. Landers credit, she did agree to serve on the Safety Path and Trails Subcommittee after it was clear her nomination was not going to be accepted.

The Board and the citizens of the community must continue to place the needs of the community over any political agenda of the Supervisor.  We have qualified individuals ready and willing to serve.  Let’s move forward!

Richard Michalski

P.S.  Next year, we need to remember Roger Schmidt’s statement expressing his lack of interest in being on the Parks and Recreation Commission, and why he really ran for office.  We need to have Parks and Recreation Commission members who are motivated for the right reason.

Supervisor Gonser demonstrates his lack of understanding of Planning Ordinance

At the August 31, 2015 Special Board of Trustees meeting that Supervisor Gonser scheduled to appoint two new Planning Commission members, he demonstrated his lack of understanding of an important element of our Ordinance.  He accused the previous Planning Commission of creating an ordinance that was established to benefit developers.  Nothing was farther from the truth. His ignorance demonstrates the importance of filling the two open Planning Commission seats with people that can add some historical knowledge to the Planning Commission.

In the mid-1980’s, the Township performed a study to determine the impact of what would occur if all of the land in the Township was developed to the full extent allowed under the then existing zoning.  It was determined that since the Township was (and continues to be) serviced by many gravel roads, safety concerns would exist if the properties on gravel roads were allowed to be fully developed.  There were concerns over Fire Truck, Emergency vehicle and Police vehicle access over poor gravel road conditions, in all seasons, due to the future heavy traffic.

With that understanding, the Township Board and the Planning Commission developed what is presently called the “Ultimate Paved Road Density Ordinance”.  This Ordinance decreased the zoning density of over 300 parcels of land that were only accessible on gravel roads.  However, in order to prevent the property owners from legally challenging the Township of a ‘taking’, the Ordinance allows the parcels to revert back to the original zoning classification if the access roads to the parcel(s) are paved by the developer of the property.

This ordinance has been used by a number of developers over the years.  One of the more visible examples is the stretch of Silverbell east of Adams to almost Gallagher Road.  The cost for the paving was incurred by the developer, and the result is the subdivision that exists there under the original zoning.

At the August 31, 2015 meeting, the Supervisor commented that he saw this ordinance as a poor example of Planning in the Township and a reason for why he wanted to change the membership of the Planning Commission.  In his statement he said:

” That (the Ultimate Paved Road Density Ordinance) came out of your last Planning Commission, the previous Planning Commission.  That permitted developers to increase the density if they paved the road.

Now, does that satisfy Oakland Township’s desire to stay rural?

I think not!”

The author of this post, former Planning Commissioner Chairman James Carter, and another citizen who played a significant role in establishing the Ordinance Don Westphal, pointed out to the Supervisor that the Planning Commission and Board action in the mid-1980s was an excellent example of good planning.  The reasons are:

  • It protects the safety of the community by insuring we had roads that could be used by emergency vehicles in all seasons.
  • It protects the Township from being accused of ‘taking’ property rights away from property owners, since they could revert to the original zoning if they met the criteria defined in the Ordinance.
  • It acts as a method to decrease development in the Township.
  • It reduces the amount of money required to maintain the gravel roads that could not sustain the higher traffic from higher density developments.

When confronted with these arguments, Gonser stated:

” I studied that quite well, so I understand completely how it happened.  The bottom line is it gets developed, and it gets developed to a higher density.  So the proof is ‘in the puddin!’ “

Here are video excerpts from the meeting – (please note Gonser’s attempt to limit James Carter’s comments and the citizen’s reactions):

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The Supervisor’s ignorance over the reasons for the Ordinance reinforced the need to have knowledgable people on the Planning Commission.  His belief that the Ordinance is bad just because “it (the land) got developed” is contrary to his statement that “private property rights are paramount”. You cannot have it both ways!

At the beginning of each Planning Commission meeting, an opening statement is read where the duties of the Planning Commission are explained.  It states the the Planning Commission is charged with ensuring all plans must:

  • meet the existing Zoning and other Ordinances of the Township
  • meet Michigan State Law & Constitution
  • meet Federal Law
  • protect the property right of the owners of the property.

The Supervisor apparently does not support protecting the property rights of developers who own land.  Apparently he sees a difference between “developers” who own land and “private property owners”.  The law does not differentiate between the two.

The Township must protect against having individuals that have similar opinions appointed to our Planning Commission.  Our Township will be plagued with high legal expenses defending poor decisions by the Planning Commission and the Board.  If the Township loses a “taking” lawsuit, the Township is subject to significant monetary damages which are ultimately paid by taxpayers.

We need experienced individuals on the Planning Commission to offset the lack of understanding of good planning by our Supervisor.

Richard Michalski

Here are some related links that were previously posted on this website:

Did Supervisor Gonser try to mislead the citizens, or was he ignorant of the facts?

Zoning? – Gonser Doesn’t Understand our Master Plan Either.

Supervisor Gonser attempts to influence Planning Commission’s Master Plan

Supervisor Gonser demonstrates his lack of knowledge of Oakland Township Zoning

Supervisor Gonser’s REAL views on trails, pathways, bike paths and environmental protection

 

Planning Commissioner disappointed that Gonser did not add much needed experience to Planning Commission

At the September 1, 2015 Planning Commission meeting, Planning Commissioner Danny Beer expressed his disappointment that the Supervisor did not take advantage of the experienced candidates that submitted their applications for the two open Planning Commission positions.  He acknowledged the need for adding people with Planning experience to the inexperienced Planning Commission and said the Supervisor “missed the boat by not putting some experience on this Planning Commission.”

Danny Beer is a Gonser appointment to the Planning Commission.  He was added to the Planning Commission in 2014.  Danny was present at the September 31st Board meeting where two Planning Commission appointments were to have been made.  As previously reported, Supervisor Gonser wanted to appoint two individuals with no Zoning or Planning experience.  The Board did not accept his recommendations.  Gonser refused to nominate other candidates that did have Planning or Zoning experience.

At the September 1 Planning Commission meeting, Danny Beer stated:

“I was disappointed, personally disappointed, that there wasn’t more consideration given to the applicants who had a lot of experience. There were a a couple of people that were very anxious to be a part of this, with a lot of background, and I am new and have less planning experience than you guys that have at least dealt with it in your other workings.  I never have.

In my opinion, we need some experienced help –  some people to fall back on.  Both of you guys have been very helpful, John and Ron, but we are all new at this, and I really feel we missed the boat by not putting some experience on this Planning Commission! “

Other Planning Commission members expressed their hope that the Supervisor would nominate one or two of the candidates that have the much needed experience and have submitted their applications for the openings.

Here is a video of the discussion at the Planning Commission meeting:

Adding fuel to the fire, Gonser was quoted in an article in the 9/1/15 edition of the Oakland Press as saying:

“I have to talk to people around the community and see who’s interested.  Unless they’ve served on the planning commission, they don’t have experience.”

This statement reveals two things:

  • He does not intend to nominate any of the more experienced people who have applied for consideration.
  • He either doesn’t understand the type of experience being sought by the Board members who spoke on the record  on the matter or he is spitefully misrepresenting their opinions in order to present himself as a victim of the Board’s refusal to support him.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  With six of the seven Board members recognizing the need for adding Planning experience to the Planning Commission, with several candidates having the much needed experience, and with a plea for help from the Planning Commission for that help, why would the Supervisor be reluctant to appoint individuals that have submitted their applications and are very qualified to help the Planning Commission?

If Gonser does not take appropriate action at the next Board meeting, I am afraid the Township may get involved in yet another legal issue that will do nothing but hurt Oakland Township.

The Supervisor needs to accept reality, and do what is right for the Township, not his ego!

Richard Michalski and Jim Foulkrod

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oakland Press article on August 31, 2015 Special BOT meeting

Here is a video of the Board members’ comments:

 

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

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

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

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

Richard MIchalski

URGENT REQUEST: Please attend special Board meeting on Monday, August 31, 2015

PLEASE ATTEND A VERY IMPORTANT MEETING THAT HAS BEEN SCHEDULED BY SUPERVISOR GONSER FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 31 AT 7:00 PM.  THE MEETING IS AT THE TOWNSHIP HALL.  THE PURPOSE IS TO APPOINT TWO NEW MEMBERS TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION THAT WILL HELP DEFINE OAKLAND TOWNSHIP’S FUTURE.

Some of you are probably aware that two Planning Commission member’s appointments end in September.  They have not requested to be considered for reappointment.  On August 28th Supervisor Gonser asked for a special Board meeting on August 31, 2015 to vote on his nominees for those two positions.  He is nominating:

  • Barbara Schmidt (wife of Park’s Commisioner Roger Schmidt)
  • Jeaneane Landers

The applications they submitted on August 27th and 28th are shown here:

Applications from Schmidt and Landers

Others that had submitted their applications earlier, but apparently were rejected by Supervisor Gonser, include:

  • Dominic Abbate (former Oakland Township Trustee and Planning Commission member)
  • Craig Blust (member of Trails and Pathway subcommittee)
  • Salavatore D’Anna
  • George Platz (former Chairman of Zoning Board of Appeals)
  • Mark Plaza

Two of these candidates (Abbate and Platz) submitted their names for consideration for the open Trustee Position created when Maureen Thalmann resigned earlier this year.  Since they were not selected for the open Trustee position, the Board asked them to consider applying for other positions as they became available.  They clearly followed the Board’s request.  Their applications for the Trustee position, with experience noted, is shown here:

Abbate and Platz applications

Efforts will be made to get copies of the other’s applications and post them on this website so the citizens can review their credentials and experience as well.

AUGUST 31UPDATE:  THE APPLICATIONS FOR THE THREE ADDITIONAL CANDIDATES HAVE BEEN OBTAINED AND ARE SHOWN HERE:

Blust

DAnna

Plaza

A copy of the meeting notice is shown here:

August 31, 2015 Special Board meeting

Supervisor Gonser is the one who nominates the individuals that are to be considered by the Board for the open positions.  A number of people have applied for the positions.  Some of these candidates have Township experience regarding Zoning, Planning, and other subcommittees in the Township, others do not.

It should be noted that, per state law governing Township Planning Commission appointments, if the Board does not approve Gonser’s Planning Commission nominees, the currently seated Planning Commission members may continue to serve on the Commission if they agree to do so.

Over the past two years, Gonser and the Board have replaced 5 of the previous Planning Commission members with new people.  The Commission consists of 7 people.  With the loss of the two that are scheduled to leave in September (Chair Jim Carter, and Secretary Janine Saputo), the most experienced Planning Commission member will only have two years of experience.

In addition to the loss of the experience on the Planning Commission, our Township Planning consultant for many years, Larry Nix, has decided to discontinue his support of Oakland Township.  He will continue to support other communities in Michigan.

One final critical skill loss is that Elaine Leven, who has been our Township Planning Coordinator, has accepted a position as Marine City Manager.

So, all of our experienced Planning people are no longer involved in Township Planning.  This while our Township Planning Commission is responsible for updating our very important Township Master Plan.

When the Board took office in 2012, there was close to (and possibly more than)  100 years of collective Oakland Township Planning experience between the Planning Commission members, the Planning Consultant, and the Township Planning Coordinator. If the Supervisor’s recommendations get approved, and when the Planning Consultant and Planning Coordinator leave. We will have less than 10 years of collective experience working on our Master Plan.

As I stated earlier, there are several candidates that have Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Township Subcommittee experience or even Township Board experience that would serve the Township well by being appointed to the Planning Commission.

Your participation in the August 31 meeting is critical in making sure that the Supervisor chooses wisely in his nomination, and that the Board only approves individuals that have demonstrated their knowledge and willingness to add much needed experience to the relatively inexperience Planning Commission as we work on our Township Master Plan.

Here is a link to an Oakland Press article on Monday’s meeting:

Oakland Press article on Planning Commission appointments

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Simply put, the future character of our Township is at stake.  Is Oakland Township such a terrible place that Gonser feels it necessary to use the Planning Commission to redefine ‘what we are’ just to satisfy his ego.

Richard Michalski – Former member of Planning Commission for 26 years