Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Posting" To The Township Website

Hi All,

Where would you go to seek information about Bloomfield Township?
At the Township offices?  On the internet?  In your local paper?
In our "21st Century" way of thinking...many would choose the internet as their first choice.

Bloomfield Township has an official website:
The "home" page has items of interest concerning the recent past and events in the near future.
I recommend that all Township citizens spend some time exploring the entire site and all that it offers.

While the Township is quick to post upcoming items of interest on the home page such as:
Household Hazardous Waste Day:  Oct. 1, 2011  from 9 am to 2 pm ;
Open House in October 16, 2011   noon to 4 pm ;
other items such as notification of upcoming public meetings are rarely found on the home page.

Some notifications of public meetings can be found in a local paper 15 days in advance.
Did you miss it?
Did someone tell you they saw it in the paper (that you may not have)? 
Therefore, you went to the Township official website to read the notification for the public meeting. Did you find it on the website?  No?
For some reason, even though I personally have requested many times that notifications of public meetings be posted earlier, the Township waits until almost the last hour required, to post the notice and the agenda for that meeting.
Why?  The date, time, location and agenda is in the local paper 15 days in advance.
The Township has a well staffed department to post the information on the website on the SAME day as notification is entered in the local paper.
Why isn't that done?  Please ask the Township officials for the answer. 

When the public meeting information is finally posted on the Township website, more information than what was in the local paper is included for review. 
That "more" information is the details concerning each agenda item.
Those details would be relevant to the discussion by the Board members and the public prior to a decision being rendered for that item.
If you wish to understand the agenda item, it is important to review the "Board Packet"  for the Board of Trustees or the "Meeting Packet" for either the Planning Commission or the Zoning Board of Appeals. 
The Design Review Board has not yet begun to provide a "packet" for public review.  But why?


Monday, October 3:  Planning Commission meeting.
Is there a Public Hearing at this meeting? 
Was there 15 day notification?  If yes, 15 day notification was NOT on the official Township website.

Wednesday, October 5:  Design Review Board meeting.
Is there a meeting packet?

Tuesday, October 11:  Zoning Board of Appeals.
15 day notification was already given in a local paper.
Did you miss it?   That information is still NOT on the official Township website.

As of 11 am Thursday, September 29, all of the above meetings are NOT listed on the Township website.
Expect to see some, possibly all, later today. 
Why?  Because this is the last day this week to have the opportunity to post to the website.
Tomorrow is Friday.  The offices are closed.
If you have any questions concerning items on the agenda for these meetings, you will need to wait until Monday.

Open and Transparent government?
....When the 15 day notification that is submitted to the papers is also posted 15 days prior on the official Township website.
....When the public has more than the Township's closed three day weekend to review the details of the next agenda and ask questions.
....Question:  How soon is when...?

Was there or will there be a Study Session public meeting to review the candidates for the appointments for the currently vacant positions to the Planning Commission and/or  the Zoning Board of Appeals?
Where will that notice be posted?  Just asking.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Board of Trustee Meeting: Monday September 26, 2011 @ 7 PM

Hi All,
Monday, September 26 @ 7 pm   Board of Trustee Meeting
Please don't forget to click on the BOARD PACKET for the details of the meeting.

PUBLIC HEARING for Roadside B & G (Bar & Grill)
This is a new restaurant for the closed Brandy's site on Telegraph.
This project has been on a fast track.  Most projects don't go this quickly.
This is the 4th meeting this month.  I have attended and commented at all meetings.
Well known restauranteur, Bill Roberts is the petitioner.
Top notch design team Ron & Roman is part of the project.
Intention is to open before the end of the year.
Is this project getting special attention?  Just asking.

My problem with the project: 
There is a deck 36.5 feet from the CURB of Telegraph Rd. for seasonal outdoor eating.
The posted speed limit on Telegraph Rd. is 50 mph.
I believe this is a safety issue.  However, the ZBA granted the variance for this set-back.
I suggested at least huge boulders to be in the front landscaping.
I'm not sure this will happen.
There are other issues I will try to address in my three minutes during public comment.

FYI:  before one word is spoken at the Public Hearing,  I believe the Board has already determined the outcome.  It will be approved as presented with a list of still "to do"  items.  I believe that motion is already written on a piece of paper so the motion can be "read" into the public hearing minutes correctly.  The only unknown:  which Board member will make the predetermined motion?

I wish:
that all decisions at all levels are made to protect the safety of the Township citizens;
that the enforcement of the Township ordinances  are consistent and that variances are only approved when there is a specific and identified  "practical difficulty";
that the public has the right to expect equal treatment when petitioning for projects and variance considerations during the government process.

Five items on the agenda - with my added comments.

 Lot Split Request – Lot 15 of Devon-on-the–Lake Subdivision (5490 and 5495 Shadow Lane)

 Consider Approval of Bloomfield Community Art Project: Detroit Institute of Arts Inside/Out

 Board Discussion of Planning Commission & Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) Appointments

These 2 committees are a part of Township governing: Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.  They are made up of appointed citizens of the Township and one Trustee.
The membership of both of those committees in the past has been appointed by the elected leaders without public posting. Employees of the Township may not be appointed members.

Under public pressure, the Township has opened up this "appointing" process by accepting letters of interest and resumes from the public in an open forum.
This is open and transparent government and I applaud the decision of the Board of Trustees.
Qualified candidates will have the opportunity to be appointed.
These appointed positions are for a specific length of time. 
When the term expires, hopefully  the Township leadership will post the openings and accept applications again.
Reappointment is possible if that person remains the best qualified.

 Consider Approval of the December 1, 2011 Millage Rate for the Bloomfield Village Police and Volunteer Fire Departments for the Fiscal Year April 1, 2012 – March 31, 2013

"....requests that your office levy a special assessment on the residents of Bloomfield Village (Birmingham School District 34) to cover the projected costs of police and volunteer fire services for the fiscal year April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013. Attached are the corresponding approved 2012-2013 Village Police and Fire Budgets."   from a letter in the Board Packet from the Bloomfield Village Association Board of Trustees  to Dan Devine, Treasurer.

 Consider Approval of a Charitable Gaming Events Resolution for Marian High School and its Dads Club 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Seeking Revenue Outside Township Borders

Hi All,
Mr. Leo Savoie, the Bloomfield Township Supervisor, was a guest at the United Homeowner Association (UHOA) monthly meeting. He was questioned (among many other issues) about the "independent contractor" work of Township employees in Sylvan Lake for planning, inspections, and assessing. He defended the decisions of the Township Board to approve these "revenue sources" and claimed contracting Township employees to other communities was a good deal for the Township.  It was important to keep employees.  Laying off employees would not be cost effective.  Really?

He was asked why no minutes and public discussion was part of Township decision- making as to "sharing services" prior to the vote on the contracts.  His response was basically that "negotiations" are done in private.  Fine, to a point.  But what about the decision to even consider entering into "negotiations"?  That should have been part of an open and transparent government discussion with the public prior to the first meeting with another community.  The Township should start right now proving their theory of  "...gaining revenue by sending Twp. employees to other communities as independent contractors is a benefit to the taxpayer..."   before considering doing more deals.  But no,  Mr. Savoie indicated that conversations are still occurring at this time with other communities and believe it or not, he declined to name the other cities/towns/villages/townships  or the services being considered.  Not open and transparent and apparently Mr. Savoie and the Board plan to keep it that way.  Township taxpayers will learn the "deals'" when a future agenda item says: approval of contract  for.....X...fee.

Here is a head's up:  Read the minutes from neighboring communities for information.   Thus, I've added the link to the City of Sylvan Lake on this blog site.  City of Sylvan Lake minutes provide some details of Bloomfield Township "negotiating". There were too many paragraphs that I wanted to quote. I suggest you just link on and read the City of Sylvan Lake  minutes for many months of 2011.  

FYI:  Sylvan Lake has a millage request on the ballot this November.  What if it fails?  Millage proposal PP for 2011 John 9 13 11-1.ppt  (SEE THE PHOTOS BELOW) from the City of Sylvan Lake.   Then see the Township budget for public safety and the costs to Township taxpayers.  Don't forget the cost for specialized equipment/vehicles that is needed to perform fire and police work.

What other cities are in "negotiations" with Bloomfield Township?  Perhaps I should start researching the City of Franklin minutes as they recently defeated a millage request/override. What about Birmingham and dispatch services?  Hello.  Don't you think you have a RIGHT TO KNOW what your government is doing?  Why should a Bloomfield Township resident need to read other community minutes to learn what YOUR elected leaders are doing?

At the UHOA meeting, Mr. Savoie questioned my dollar figures that I presented in an earlier blog on assessing with Sylvan Lake.  He said he needed to check the figures.  I believe he said "do some research".  My thought:  as a then Trustee Board member who voted on the issue,  shouldn't he already  know the figures BEFORE he voted to sign the deal?  Who did the negotiating?  An employee?  The attorney?  The elected officials?  Who came to the conclusion of how much to charge?  How much does it really cost per property to do inspections, planning,  assessing? For Sylvan Lake?  For Bloomfield Township?   Does the Township taxpayer pay more to have their home or business assessed?  Why weren't these questions answered to the public BEFORE the vote?  How can Mr. Savoie claim it is a good deal if he needs to research my "guesstimates" now?

What should I FOIA to learn more?  Closed door meetings ?  Just asking.


In fact I did ask these questions in my 3 minute allotted time at the July 25 , 2011 Board of Trustee meeting.   Questions and concerns are not recorded in the official printed minutes.  Just the name and address of someone that "spoke." That is not open and transparent government.  That is why the visual and audio recording of the public meeting was a top priority.  Public meetings need to be presented on public cable TV and website archived.   FYI:  A complete copy of the Agreement for State Construction Code Services is located in the Clerk’s Office.

There were other issues presented to Mr. Savoie at the meeting by Township residents.  I will write about those issues in a later blog.
FYI:   Mr. Gregg Kowalski, editor of the Eccentric was present at the meeting.  I'm sure his Sunday, Sept.  25, 2011 edition of the Birmingham Eccentric will have his review the meeting.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

3 Positions Available on the ZBA and Planning Commission

Hi All,
There will be posts where I simply give you information about meetings or items of interest.

The Township Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals have a total of 3 vacancies due to resignations. The deadline to apply for those positions is September 28, 2011. 
The below application details have been copied directly from the Township website:
Please follow the instructions for applying and note the expiration date of the term. Once appointed to the position, the Supervisor and/or the Board of Trustees may re-appoint you for another term or terms to ZBA and Planning Commission. 
You may apply to both the ZBA and Planning Commission if you feel your qualifications meet those requirements.
Please read this publication for more information about the role and responsibilities of being on a ZBA Board:  Zoning Board of Appeals Handbook at   ... published by the Michigan Municipal League.  As the state association of cities and villages, the Michigan Municipal League is committed to providing a variety of educational resources for both elected and appointed municipal officials to assist them in doing their jobs. The League is a non- partisan, nonprofit association working through cooperative effort to strengthen the quality of municipal government and administration.

Bloomfield Township Trustees Seek Candidates for Open Positions on Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals
Release Date: September 14, 2011
The Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees is seeking qualified candidates to fill vacant positions on the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.
The Planning Commission serves as an advisory body to the Board of Trustees on matters involving site plan approvals, zoning ordinance amendments, and other land use considerations. It meets on the first and third Mondays of each month at 7:00 PM. The open term for the Planning Commission expires in January, 2012.
The Zoning Board of Appeals considers requests for relief from strict compliance from the Zoning Ordinance regulations, and other specified requests. It meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM. The open term for the ZBA expires in January, 2013.
To be considered, a person must be a Township elector, 18 years of age or older, who is a U.S. citizen and has lived at least 30 days in Bloomfield Township. The applicant must write a letter of interest and submit a current resume. The Board will review and consider information from all applicants and make a selection.
The letter of interest and resume must be submitted to the Township Supervisor’s Office by 5:30 PM, Wednesday, September 28, 2011. The Office, located at 4200 Telegraph Road, is open between 7:00 AM – 5:30 PM, Monday through Thursday. It is closed on Fridays. The phone number is 248.433.7708. The documents may also be emailed

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The real cost of sharing services

I am concerned with the costs to the taxpayers for "services we all want and expect" as Bloomfield Township leaders like to tell us.

Earlier in August the board approved township personnel to do all inspection services for the city of Sylvan Lake for a "fee" working as "independent contractors." Then the township approved a two-year deal to do all of the assessing for Sylvan Lake for $19,000 a year, again a "fee" working as "independent contractors."

There are about 1,000 properties to assess in the city of Sylvan Lake, residential and commercial.

The township budget for assessing is $750,000. The costs for the building rent, utilities, computers, insurance, motor pool cars, gas and maintenance, etc. are not included as expenses in that budget.

The township claimed that no more personnel were needed, nor any other items (computers,etc.), and that the existing department could easily absorb this work in their daily routine.

The Board of Review will also be involved but those scheduled meetings will need to be performed on different days at the city of Sylvan Lake. The Board of Review has expenses as well. Other departments, such as building and planning, may be needed in order to complete the data and reports required. What costs are there?

The township is responsible for about 20,000 (my guesstimate) residential and commercial properties in the township. Those 20,000, plus 1000 for Sylvan Lake, properties make 21,000 properties divided into that $750,000 assessing budget, for a per parcel cost of $35.71. Doesn't sound like it costs much per property.

However, multiply $35.71 by the number of properties needing assessing in Sylvan Lake and I think the township should actually be charging at least $35,710, not $19,000 per year.

Our tax dollars are subsidizing another community that pays zero in millages...just "fees." Our township employees are "independent contractors" to the city of Sylvan Lake. That means Sylvan Lake is not responsible for wages, health and insurance benefits or pensions. The township is responsible for all of those costs. The township is responsible for all the legacy costs and all the costs associated with the job...vehicles, computers, building to do business from, etc.

The city of Sylvan Lake has also considered a proposal by the township to have police and dispatch performed by our township employees. What will that "fee" be? How much will the township taxpayers be subsidizing for those services?

Beware of future millage requests. What is your money paying for? Services for you, or them?

"Hi All," Bloomfield Township

Hi All,
I've been attending Bloomfield Township meetings since March of 2010 and writing to a "Hi All" group, informing them of what I've learned at the meetings.
My "Hi All" writings will now appear in this location, my new blog.
I will still inform you about the notification of public meetings, my follow up report of the meetings and bring topics of concern to the forefront.
An important goal is to give township readers facts, information and, sometimes, my opinion.