Tag Archives: United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

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

Blossom Ridge consent judgment proposal up for review

As many of you know, there has been a significant legal issue that our Township has been dealing with for over 3 years.  That issue is the Federal case against Oakland Township regarding the Blossom Ridge Senior Development proposed at the corner of Adams and Dutton (see tab at top of page for more historical information). 

A Federal court requested ‘facilitation’ took place in the hopes that an agreement could be achieved eliminating the need for a trial. A proposal that involved just the Blossom Ridge parcel was not achieved, so the developer offered an option that included more than the original Blossom Ridge property.  Judge Howard, the negotiation facilitator, supported the proposal and asked that the proposal be reviewed by the entire Board and made available to the public.  

A final decision by the Board IS REQUIRED by January 26, 2016, or the issue will go to trial in July. Specific information on the proposal has been made available to the public.  The plans are available for review at the Township Hall, on the Township website, and in the two links shown below on this website. This topic has been added to the January 26 BOT meeting agenda.

Here are the various iterations of the Blossom development that had been previously publicly considered and rejected:

  • 282 total units including 126 congregate units with building having > 2 stories (original proposal)
  • 238 total units including 126 congregate units with building having > 2 stories
  • 228 total units including reduced number of  congregate units with building having 2 stories

THE PROPOSED CONSENT JUDGEMENT INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:

ON ORIGINAL PROPOSED BLOSSOM RIDGE PROPERTY:

  • 189 total units including 100 congregate units with building having 2 stories

ON 30+ ACRES SURROUNDING OAKLAND CHRISTIAN CHURCH (ADAMS AND SILVERBELL)

  • Downzone the property from current “Research Laboratory” zoning to one that is more restrictive
  • 6,800 square foot ‘fine dining’ restaurant on Southwest corner of Adams and Silverbell on two acres
  • Single story Health and Wellness residence with 56 studio apartments on northwest  portion of property on 6.33 acres per site plan
  • 84 two to three bedroom units in a two story structure on 14 acres
  • Donation of 8 acres along Adams road to Township
  • Moceri would build a fire/ambulance facility on the site 
  • Moceri would donate up to $200,000.00 for the purchase of a new emergency (ALS) vehicle
  • Matching contribution of Moceri of up to $125,000.00 toward the construction of a Veteran’s Memorial on the property

OTHER AGREEMENTS:

  • No damages will be pursued by the developer (estimated at $17million)
  • Lawsuit will be dropped eliminating potential court finding that Township’s zoning violates Federal Law & potential federal fines

OPTIONS DISCUSSED BY BOARD MEMBERS:

  • Agree to the proposed consent judgment settlement
  • Reject the proposed consent judgment and go to trial in July accepting all the uncertainties of potential outcomes
  • Agree that Oakland Township has violated Federal laws, with the resulting approval of original proposed plan and exposing Township to damages claimed by developer.

Here is video of the lengthy report given by Township Attorney, Dan Kelly:

 

Here is the Township’s summary of the proposed consent judgment posted on Township website

BLOSSOM RIDGE AND CARILLON CREEK DEVELOPMENT SUMMARY

Here are the proposed plans for both the Blossom Ridge property as well as the property around the Church:

Blossom Ridge Consent Judgment Plans

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  This issue has been a divisive one in our Township for years.  The consequences of making the right decision will have a long term impact on our Township.  If the Board agrees with the consent judgement, it will restrict the Township in their ability to review the proposed developments being proposed on the parcel near the Church.  However, the developer has demonstrated through the years that his developments are compatible with our Township, and we hope that the developer will consider any site concerns the Township raises if that is the Board’s decision.  The potential financial implications of making the wrong decision by the Board are VERY SIGNIFICANT.

We encourage all citizens concerned about this issue to visit the Township Hall prior to January 26th and review the proposed plans.  After viewing the plans, make your views known by either attending the January 26th meeting, or sending a letter to the Board members.

Richard Michalski

 

 

2nd Federal Suit Filed – Moceri/DM Investments & Joan Buser file Fair Housing Complaint against Oakland Township

Thursday, 12/11/14, Developer Moceri/DM Investments and former Township Supervisor Joan Buser filed suit in Federal Court against Oakland Township for Discrimination under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. This complaint is different from the Paralyzed Veterans suit  in that it has increased the focus on the actions and words of not only our township government but, also people in our community.  It also extends the time frame of the evidence back to 2005 with our community’s reaction to the Harvest  Corners development proposal.

The suit’s “Factual Allegations” section lists evidence that the Township’s Fair Housing responsibilities were well known and the new Board of Trustees  actions did not live up to those responsibilities:

  • No land zoned for multi-family housing
  • No Land zoned for housing the elderly and/or disabled
  • The Residential Multiple zoning limitations make any development of affordable congregate care and assisted living housing for the elderly and/or disabled impracticable.
  • The Township’s need for and lack of housing opportunities for the elderly and disabled have been acknowledged by the Township’s planning consultant, Planning Commission and the former Board of Trustees
  • The Master Plan recognizes the need for housing the elderly and/or disabled
  • The Township’s need for and lack of housing opportunities for the elderly and disabled have been acknowledged by the The Oakland County Zoning Coordinating Committee has cautioned the Township that the Township’s zoning ordinances are exclusionary and in violation of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act and that the Township needs to provide housing opportunities for the elderly and disabled.

The suit provides an overview of applicable law:

a) The lawsuit explains that Americans with Disabilities Act:

“provides that no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities or a public entity, or be subject to discrimination by any such entity.”
“Under the ADA, a governmental entity engages in a discriminatory practice where the entity refuses to make a reasonable accommodation to rules, policies, practices or services when such accommodation may be necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.”

b) The lawsuit explains that The Fair Housing Act:

“forbids discrimination against the disabled in housing and further states: It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a handicapped person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit, including public and common use areas.”

c) It is important to understand that, while we, as individuals, may think of the word “disabled” mostly in terms of wheelchair accessibility and blindness, the Code of Federal Regulation law takes a much broader view that greatly expands the group of people who are protected:

“Physical or mental impairment means (A) any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive, digestive, genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or (b) any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. [42 C.F.R. 84.3(2)(i).]”

The lawsuit has a strong emphasis on discriminatory intent by the Township and its residents

“Notwithstanding the Township’s lack of and need for suitable housing for the elderly and disabled, the Township’s current residents have rebuffed repeated efforts to modify or gain exceptions to its extremely restrictive zoning regime. A relatively small and uninformed, but impassioned and vocal, minority of residents have repeatedly taken control sufficiently to stymie all efforts to introduce fair housing to the Township. That minority of residents are determined to reserve the opportunity to reside in the Township only to those who can afford to live in and own the luxury housing which currently characterizes the Township stock of housing.”

Harvest Corners.

The suit talks about the failure of past fair housing efforts – Harvest Corners.

During the years 2005 – 2008 Dominic and Frances Moceri affiliated companies proposed the Harvest Corners development which included various types of single family housing, some retail stores and housing for the elderly and disabled. After almost 3 years of hearing public comment and deliberating the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees approved the rezoning to allow the Harvest Corners development. The suit explains what happened next:

“An impassioned and misinformed minority of residents demanded a referendum on the zoning change and submitted the required petition. Predictably, in an off-cycle vote those who opposed the rezoning came to the polls in greater numbers than did those who supported the plan. The referendum reversed the decisions of the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees and preserved a zoning regime which bars the elderly and disabled from the Township unless they can live in a large luxury home and hire their own assistance.”

The suit reports that a number of Oakland Township residents have voiced opposition to Harvest Corners

a)   “We don’t need senior development. If people want condos they can go to Auburn Hills, it’s not that far away.”
b)  “I don’t think it’s the responsibility of citizens of Oakland Township to bring policemen, firemen, displaced persons from Detroit or New Orleans, whatever out to Oakland Township to live.”
c)  “… I sell a national brand; I am with Mr. Fox. This is low income housing, basically, compared to what we worked for.”
d)  “We don’t have a requirement to be inclusive. We can be exclusive.”

Blossom Ridge

The lawsuit describes the citizen’s and Township’s actions before the 2012 election regarding Blossom Ridge the current fair housing effort.

“Township residents who filled the Township meeting room and made dire predictions about wandering Alzheimer’s patients, “workers” from outside the Township, traffic congestion, diminished property values, and the loss of the Township’s special character and exclusivity.”

“Some of the most vehement fear mongers have since become elected or appointed Township officials”.

The Lawsuit quotes citizens publications and public comments in Township meetings:

Township Treasurer candidate, Jeanne Langlois, has said the Township residents are not asking for this type of senior housing and are content to look outside the Township for this.

Another Board of Trustees candidate said that lack of senior housing is “one of the things that make Oakland Township special – that it doesn’t have a lot of things other communities have.”

“six in ten people with Alzheimer’s disease will wander.”

“will be a rental development, a business masquerading as senior housing.”

“Recent neighboring property sales continue to fall – your home’s value – and potential buyers are now factoring in BLOSSOM RIDGE.”

“This type of development changes the whole temper of this area.”

“Your neighborhood could be next.”

“This request is based on greed, not need. We do not need a senior center in this area. My message to the Township Board is do the right thing and reject this proposal.”

“Mr. Moceri and the planning committee need to know that we will take all necessary steps to make this proposal fail. We do not need this type of development in a high scale residential area as it will continue the drop in home values that is already taking place.”

“this proposal did not fill a void and does not do anything towards keeping the prosperity and integrity of why the residents moved to those subdivisions.”

John Giannangeli commented at the May 8, 2012 Board meeting, saying the project “is a commercial 24/7 business in the middle of the most populous part of the township,” and a “bait and switch senior housing to assisted living.”

“I believe that Oakland Township never intended for such a development as it is a “commercial” development and it is not appropriate for our lovely community.”

At the September 10, 2013 Board of Trustees meeting, AnnaLisa Hollenbeck stated that the developer, HUD and DOJ are terrorists and terrorizing the citizens of Oakland Township with their discrimination complaint and investigation.

 Events prior to the 2012 election

The Township Planning Commission recommended approval of Blossom Ridge with 282 mixed density units in February, 2012.

Prior to the final hearing before the Board of Trustees, Dominic J. Moceri met with persons claiming to represent the hostile residents. He agreed to lower the Blossom Ridge unit count from 282 units to 238 units, and they agreed to drop their opposition.

The rezoning with a PRRO for 238 units with more than 50% open space was then approved by the previous Board of Trustees on August 14, 2012.

August 15, 2012  the developer filed an application for Special Accommodation Use.

On Oct. 9 2012 Recommended granting the Special Accommodation Use (SAU) application made by the developer.

The Board delayed its vote on the SAU until after the referendum.

The 2012 Election is described in the suit:

“In an off cycle election angry residents voted from office all the Trustees who had voted for Blossom Ridge and replaced them with some of the most vehement opponents of Blossom Ridge. The new Township Board has stacked the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and two new Board of Trustee appointments so that all the Township’s governing bodies are comprised solely of persons opposed to Blossom Ridge and congregate housing for the elderly and disabled.”

“Some residents, including one later appointed to the Township Board, filed a petition for a referendum to cancel the previous Board’s rezoning. By Michigan statute the petition alone is sufficient to block the Blossom Ridge rezoning until a referendum is held.”

“The newly elected Township Board sought five legal opinions before reaching the decision to submit the rezoning to the Oakland County Coordinating Zoning Committee (“County Zoning Committee”) for review and  recommendation.”

“The County Zoning Committee staff reported that Blossom Ridge would be consistent with the Township Master Plan, was a residential use and not a commercial use, would create less traffic than alternate uses, and would be in harmony with surrounding residential uses in Oakland Township and in neighboring towns. The staff also observed that Oakland Township’s zoning regime’s exclusion of multi-family housing violates Michigan law. The County Zoning Committee recommended approval of Blossom Ridge by a unanimous vote.”

The Lawsuit discusses the Township’s referendum on the Blossom Ridge re-zoning:

” The County Zoning Committee approval left the Township Board with no more excuses for delaying the referendum, which was then held on August 6, 2013, in an off cycle election. ”

” Of the Township’s roughly 12,000 eligible voters, about 2800 voted. Approximately 2,000 voted to strike down the previous Board’s rezoning, and 800 voted in favor of Blossom Ridge. ”

“The Constitution’s Due Process and Equal Protection provisions and the anti-discrimination statutes cited in this Complaint protect individuals from the oppression of majorities. That Blossom Ridge was defeated by a referendum adds nothing to the strength of the Township’s position. The disabled are entitled to protection under law despite the notion of the “will of the people,” frequently cited by Blossom Ridge adversaries”

“As a result of the referendum petition and then referendum the Township remains as it was, a Township of thirty-six square miles burdened by a zoning regime which effectively bars all possibility of community housing providing the special services needed by the elderly and disabled.”

The Plaintiff discusses their Application for Special Accommodation Use on Aug. 15, 2012

“The Township’s Special Accommodation Use ordinance states: This section is intended to authorize the grant of relief from the strict terms of the ordinance in order to provide equal housing opportunities particularly suited to the needs of persons entitled to reasonable accommodation under law and to encourage innovation in land use and variety in design and layout.”

“The new Board then delayed the referendum… more than a year later,… on November 13, 2013 the Supervisor recommended denial.”

“The Recommendation lacked any hint that the Defendant is bound by the FHA or that its governing body and residents must set aside their  convenience and personal preferences so that the disabled can participate fully in the community.”

“At a meeting held on December 10, 2013, the Board of Trustees… voted unanimously (6-0 with one Trustee having recused herself) to deny the reasonable accommodation request under the SAU Ordinance “for the reasons stated in Supervisor Gonser’s recommendation to the Board.””

“Neither the Supervisor nor any Board member offered any reasonable evidence that the requested accommodation was “unreasonable” or imposed  any significant burden on the Township or its residents.”

The Plaintiffs are asking the Court to:

  1. Declare that Defendant’s exclusionary zoning regime is unlawful in its entirety;
  2. Enjoin Defendant from enforcing its zoning with respect to the Land;
  3. Order that a reasonable accommodation be made permitting construction of 282 units of mixed density multi-family housing in accordance with the plans approved by Defendant’s Planning Commission in February, 2012;
  4. Enter judgment against Defendant for all amounts of compensatory and punitive damages to which Plaintiffs are entitled;
  5. Award Plaintiffs their prejudgment interest, costs and expenses of this action, including reasonable attorney and expert fees;
  6. Retain jurisdiction post judgment to assure that the intent of the Court’s judgment is fulfilled; and
  7. Award any other appropriate relief.

This is a very much summarized recounting of the contents of the lawsuit the full text of which 2014_12_11 Moceri Buser Complaint.

Jim Foulkrod

 

Federal Fair Housing Complaint Yields Lawsuit in Federal Court

The MICHIGAN PARALYZED VETERANS OF AMERICA (MPVA) have filed a lawsuit against Oakland Township in Federal Court after filing a complaint with the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and  Urban Development in 2013.  There is a link to the entire complaint document at the end of this post. I have summarized its 42 pages here. The suit complains that:

Oakland Township has “engaged in one or more discriminatory housing practices under the Federal Fair Housing Law, 42 U.S.C. sections 3601-3619″

“Oakland Township violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to approve the reasonable accommodation requested pursuant to the SAU Ordinance”

“Oakland Township acted intentionally, willfully, and in disregard for the rights of others.”

Their summary allegation, which is about the Proposed Blossom Ridge development, is that:

“Oakland Township has refused a reasonable accommodation to allow development of a multi-family housing development for the elderly and disabled”.

As background to this complaint the suit’s states that :

“The prior Township administration, consisting of a Board of Trustees, Planning Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals approved rezoning that would have permitted the development.”

Given that background, the primary act by the Township cited in the suit by that gives rise to this allegation is:

“An application was made for a reasonable accommodation pursuant to a special use accommodation provision that had been added to the Township’s zoning ordinance specifically to comply with the FHA. The application for special use accommodation was recommended for approval by the Township Supervisor, but was later denied by the new Township leadership who opposed the development.”

The suit supplied some evidence of the local need for housing for the elderly and disabled

Recent U.S. Census data provides data about people who may require this kind of housing
the total adult disabled population within an approximate 10 mile radius of the proposed development is approximately 38,000
persons age 65 and over with a disability within a 10 mile radius of the proposed development. 16,800
persons with a service-connected disability within a 10 mile radius of Oakland  Township. 2,400

The complaint gives a narrative of events leading up to the denial of the Blossom Ridge project.  The narrative is summarized and presented in chronological order below

  1. Oakland Township contains no land zoned to allow specialized multifamily housing for the elderly or disabled.
  2. Oakland Township adopted a Master Plan in 2005 and reaffirmed in 2011 that recognized that the Township must provide housing  options for the disabled and the elderly.
  3. In February 2012, consistent with the recommendation of the Township’s planning consultants, Oakland Township’s Planning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning under a Planned Residential Rezoning Overlay (“PRRO).
  4. Numerous Oakland Township residents, including candidates for positions on the Township Board, vocally opposed the development before and after this meeting.
  5. Despite the opposition, at its August 14, 2012 Meeting, the Township Board approved the rezoning.
  6. On or about August 15, 2012, an application was submitted for a reasonable accommodation under the SAU Ordinance for the Blossom Ridge housing development for seniors and the disabled.
  7. On or about September 19, 2012, Ms. Buxar and other opponents of the project filed documents requesting a referendum, which put the rezoning on hold temporarily.
  8. Oct 2012 Board Meeting The Township Supervisor recommended approval of the development as a reasonable accommodation under the SAU Ordinance.
  9. The Board voted to table determination on the request for reasonable accommodation under the SAU Ordinance until after a vote on the referendum.
  10. Following the 2012 election that transformed the Board into one solidly opposed to the development, and a referendum spurred by project opponents new Township Supervisor Gonser recommended denial of the development. He included these among his reasons: “…the proposed housing development will definitely produce a fundamental alteration in the nature of the neighborhood which is currently exclusively upscale single family residential…”  “The community is fundamentally comprised of large, upscale single family homes in a relatively quiet neighborhood.”
  11. At a meeting held on December 10, 2013, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously (6-0, with one Trustee having recused herself) to deny the reasonable accommodation request under the SAU Ordinance “for the reasons stated in Supervisor Gonser’s recommendation to the Board.”

Edited Summary of  RELIEF REQUESTED

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court:

  • Enter orders finding and declaring that Oakland Township’s actions alleged above constitute violations of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Michigan’s Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act (“PWDCRA”)
  • Order Oakland Township to grant the reasonable accommodation requested pursuant to the SAU Ordinance;
  • Enjoin Oakland Township, its agents, employees, assigns, successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them, from discriminating on the basis of disability in violation of the FHA, ADA and (“PWDCRA”) ;
  • Enjoin Oakland Township, its agents, employees, assigns, successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them, from refusing to approve the accommodation requested pursuant to the SAU Ordinance and ordering them to allow the development of the Blossom Ridge project;
  • Order monetary damages in an appropriate amount to fully compensate each person aggrieved by Oakland nship’s discriminatory housing practices for injuries caused by Oakland Township’s fa ilure to comply with the requirements of the FHA, the ADA, and the PWDCRA;
  • Order Oakland Township to pay attorney fees, costs and expenses involved in bringing this litigation;

LINKS TO VIEW RELATED MATERIAL

Use this link to view the 2014_12_05 PVA Federal Complaint.

Use this link to read Detroit Free Press editorial – Free Press Editorial

Use this link to read Oakland Press article – Oakland Press Article

Author’s note:  This is an important event for Oakland Township citizens.  This could involve a great deal of our taxpayers’ money in compensation and attorney fees. It will occupy our elected officers and board members with things other than their official duties.  It could negatively affect the reputation of our community.  The Board needs to hear from  our citizens so please voice your opinion by phone calls, emails and attending Board meetings.  The next Board meeting is Tuesday the 9th 7PM in the Township Hall.

Jim Foulkrod

Is Oakland Township’s ‘soul’ at risk?

What follows is a letter I have written to the editor of the Oakland Patch.  It is in  response to a number of letters Francis P. Hughes has written and has had published.  I do not know if the editor will publish it, but because of the time sensitivity of an upcoming decision the Township Board must make, I am posting the letter here:

Letter to the Patch Editor,

Hi, my name is Richard Michalski.  I am writing this letter in response to several letters that Francis P. Hughes has written to you calling me (and others) “shills”.  I will refrain from making personal attacks but will ask for greater citizen involvement on a very critical issue facing Oakland Township.

Let me begin by saying that I am a 35 year resident of Oakland Township. I served on the Planning Commission for 26 years until 2008, when at my choosing I retired.  Earlier this year, there was an issue facing the Township that got me ‘re-engaged’ as an ‘active’ citizen.   Over the past several months I have witnessed a number of things that our Supervisor and Board have done that I believe are possibly illegal, but definitely contrary to some of the principles that have guided the Township in the past.

Arguably, the biggest issue facing our Township right now is the upcoming decision by our Board on whether to grant the Blossom Ridge Senior disabled development a “Special Accommodation Use”. The way Oakland Township has handled this development over the past 15 months is currently under review by the HUD and the DOJ for possible housing violations against a protected class of citizens. On December 10 there will be a public hearing on the Special Accommodation Use at the Township hall starting at 7 PM.

A fellow citizen of Oakland Township told me – “The outcome of the Blossom Ridge Special Accommodation Use decision places our Township’s “soul” at risk!”  What the person went on to say is that if Oakland Township does not approve the request, and the DOJ comes in and forces Oakland Township to provide the needed Senior Disabled housing for our residents, Oakland Township will become known as THE exclusionary community in South East Michigan, and possibly all of Michigan.

The developer and the Township have made attempts at a compromise that meets the demands of some of the residents.  On October 8th a revised plan was presented to the Board and the citizens.  The group of citizens present was not satisfied.  Mr. Hughes is part of the group that is opposed to the development.  He is now suggesting that the developer cut the number of units in half again.  He has referred to the development as “a huge Warehouse with cubbyhole sized apartments”. The developer reduced the number of proposed units from 342 to 282, then to 238, and now to 228.  Mr. Hughes suggests the right number is 126. He has no basis for selecting that number.

I would encourage the citizens of Oakland Township to come to the December 10th Board meeting to learn more about the proposed development, the legal implications of the Board’s decision and voice your opinion – one way or the other.  The Township’s “soul” may be at stake!

Richard Michalski

Does Oakland Township need Senior Disabled housing?

There appear to be some residents of Oakland Township that question the need for Senior Disabled housing in our Township.  Several years ago, the developer of the Blossom Ridge development used SEMCOG data to demonstrate to the previous Oakland Township Board that this type of development is needed in our community.  

At the November 7, 2013 Board of Oakland Township meeting, Supervisor Gonser indicated that he does NOT recommend approving the Special Accommodation use for the proposed development on the Northwest corner of Adams Road and Dutton Road in our Township.

The link below is a copy of the report that the developer provided the Township back in 2011 to demonstrate that there is a real need for this type housing in our township:

A Case for Senior Housing Compiled

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The citizens of Oakland Township need to understand the data that demonstrates the need for such a development in our community.  They may then be in a better position to influence the Board in rejecting Supervisor Gonser’s recommendation to NOT approve the Special Accommodation request. This report will likely be used by the Federal Government in their investigation into discriminatory zoning practices in Oakland Township if the Board rejects the request.

Richard Michalski

Supervisor Gonser recommends NOT approving Special Accommodations for the elderly disabled in Oakland Township!

At the November 7, 2013 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser recommended NOT APPROVING the Special Accommodation request submitted by the Blossom Ridge Developer in August of 2012.  This request has been on the Board’s ‘table’ since they took office in November of last year.  Supervisor Gonser reviewed the reasons for his recommendation.  Here is his recommendation:

2013_11_07 Supervisor Recommendation

The issues raised by Supervisor Gonser are ones that should not have taken a year to identify.  He and the Township Attorney spent months working with the developer trying to revise the plan.  There were significant changes proposed to the plan.  Gonser felt comfortable enough with the revised plan to have it reviewed at a Board meeting on October 8th.  The citizens present were not satisfied with the changes.  He now is recommending a rejection of the Special Accommodation Use request.  

In his recommendation, he says “the community has no RM (Medium Density Residential)”.  That statement is wrong.  Yes, we do not have any RM (Multifamily Residential), but we do have Medium Residential Districts (MRD).  This error leads me to believe that Gonser’s recommendation was not reviewed by our Township Attorney.  THIS ISSUE IS TOO IMPORTANT TO OUR TOWNSHIP TO HAVE THE RECOMMENDATION NOT FULLY REVIEWED BY OUR TOWNSHIP ATTORNEY.

Here are several counter-points to the issues he raised:

  • Age is protected under Michigan State Law:  The Elliott-Larson Act of 1976.
  • Oakland County Planning Department has warned Oakland Township that our housing ordinances may be considered exclusionary.
  • The proposed housing for the elderly disabled is not a “business” but a residential use.  This has been confirmed by Oakland Township’s planning consultant, former Township Attorney and the County Zoning Committee.
  • The statement that the neighborhood is “currently upscale single residential” is a red flag that the Federal Government will likely use in their investigation into Oakland Township’s alleged exclusionary zoning.
  • The taxes generated by the residents in the development will offset the costs for services.  However, Gonser reasons that since disabled seniors MAY cost the Township more (example EMS runs), the Special Accommodation should be denied.  This forces other communities to incur the POTENTIAL added cost for the elderly disabled citizens that had to move out of Oakland Township since we have no Senior Housing facilities in our Township. This logic is evidence of another exclusionary action by Oakland Township.
  • At the June 12, 2012 BOT meeting, Supervisor Fogler read a letter from Fire Chief Benoit stating – “Any development, including single family units, increases the burden on the Fire Department.” He goes on to say “It also generates tax revenue and ambulance fee revenue  for use of the emergency services.”  Gonser’s recommendation does not comprehend this fact that came from the Township expert in that field. 
  • Gonser further reasons that since there MAY be increased noise due to the EMS runs to support disabled senior citizens, the Special Accomodation request should be denied, forcing other communities to bear the POTENTIAL increased noise level. This logic is evidence of another exclusionary action by Oakland Township.
  • The traffic study that was validated by the Township’s traffic consultant, the Oakland County Road Commission and the Oakland County Planning Department indicate that the traffic generated during peak traffic hours by this development will actually be less than if the land was developed as single family residential.
  • The decision to NOT include nursing home facilities within the proposed development was based on the TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS’ REQUEST.
  • The ‘end of life’ services afforded the residents of the development are the same as those who choose to live in private residences.
  • The applicant has provided an alternate plan that was reviewed with Gonser and the Township Attorney in private meetings.  That proposal was later reviewed at the October 8th Board meeting.  The minutes for that meeting interestingly do not mention that proposal.  However, a description of the proposal can be seen by going to: 

https://oaklandtownship.info/2013/10/26/blossom-ridge-a-compromise-is-on-the-table/

  • The 2005 and 2011 adopted Master Plan indicate that this parcel of land is suited for Senior housing use.
  • Supervisor Gonser admits that “no specific ordinance may exist” to accommodate the disabled elderly, but suggests that the developer come up with a modified plan and submit a rezoning request to (R-M) Multifamily Residential.  Under the R-M zoning, the number of units allowed would be 342.  The developer has made repeated reductions from 342 to 282, then 238, and most recently 228.  Getting the Board to approve 342 units is highly unlikely.  It is questionable if the developer’s proposal of 228 is still an option, given comments made at the October 8th meeting.

For a complete “side by side” comparison of Gonser’s points and counter points, please look at the following file:

Response to Gonser’s SAU recommendation

The legal implications of this decision must be fully understood by the citizens of Oakland Township.  Having a recommendation that is based on a campaign promise, may not be in the Township’s best interest.

A public hearing on this subject has been set for December 10, 2013.  Resident participation is VERY important at that meeting.  

PLEASE MARK IT ON YOUR CALENDAR AND ATTEND!

For those interested, a copy of our Township’s Special Accommodation Ordinance can be reviewed here:

Special Accommodation Use Ordinance

Why is this important to the Citizens of Oakland Township?  The upcoming public hearing is very important.  The consequences to the Township could be significant if the Federal Government concludes that the Board’s actions have been discriminatory.  The citizens and the Board must be fully informed.  Whatever your vote was in August on the Blossom Ridge referendum, it is in our best interest to make sure our Township Attorney explains the potential consequences of this decision.

Richard Michalski