This blog has changed from the first AM posting 5/4/12 due to me realizing that the township only posted ONE notice of ONE public hearing under "legal notices"...while there are really TWO public hearings at the same meeting with different issues. The OTHER public hearing is only found as a listing in the agenda posting and NOT found under "legal notices" or elsewhere on the township website.
Public Hearing notices need to be more open and transparent. The Township has the ability and the means to notify its citizens of proposed changes and/or important issues via reporters with different news sources, through newspaper legal notices, its own website, its newsletter, and the Township E-news bulletin.
Both issues below are on the WED., May 9 @ 7 pm Planning Commission meeting as PUBLIC HEARINGS.
One Public Hearing concerns:
A. Proposed Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance – Rezoning from O-1, Office, to OR-1, Office-Retail, to accommodate new retail center at southwesterly corner of Telegraph Road and W. Square Lake Road.
There was no "legal notice" found on the website nor any details in a "board packet". I have no other information to share about this issue except that it went before the Design Review Board.
The Second Public Hearing concerns:
A. Proposed Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance – Cinemas with a Class C License
The following was found under "legal notices" on the township website. There were no details in a "board packet". The previous minutes of the Planning Commission from April 2 have not been put on the township website...which concerns the Maple Theater site and all issues. Therefore, I have little to report, however, please be aware that previous decisions have been made at the Planning Commission.
An Ordinance Amendment proposing to change definitions of "planned shopping centers" and a change in wording to allow the sale of all kinds of liquor at movie theaters (ie: Maple Theater on Maple near Telegraph) should qualify as something that the PUBLIC would like to be aware of and to discuss if one so chooses.
The Township did send an E-news on May 3, never mentioning the public hearings coming on Wed., May 9. Why? Are the topics too risky to involve real public comment? Might the township agenda for certain projects be delayed or halted if the public learns of the issues? Too much advance notice may actually get people to pay attention and actually go to the meetings and comment? I really don't know why the township chooses not to notify the citizens in every way possible of upcoming Public Hearings. For the record, the township comments that they follow the law...but perhaps that law should be changed as it is not effective, open and transparent for those that they represent.
The Township has traditionally and intentionally chosen to wait until sometime, often late in the day on a Thursday, to post information of upcoming meetings and their agendas. This Thursday, May 3, the township posted under "legal notices" just ONE of two public hearing notices that will be discussed at the Planning Commission on WED., May 9 @ 7 pm.
This legal information is not found on the home page of the township website. You need to search for this information. I thought public hearings needed a 15 day noticing?
Thursday, May 3 the township also posted the agenda for the Planning Commission.
The Planning Commission notice does NOT include...the Board Packet with the minutes of the previous meeting and the detailed information about the issues of the public hearings. Those items in a "board packet" are missing.
Why does the Township wait until Thursday to post information when the offices are CLOSED on Friday? No questions or copies of documents can be accessed until Monday morning at the earliest. The taxes that we all pay should get us 5 days of township offices open and available for business. The technology that is available should also allow for earlier postings. It is fortunate that this Planning Commission meeting was changed from Monday to Wednesday..( because of the vote on the Bloomfield Hills School District ballot question on Tuesday, May 8..) otherwise, the public would have less than 24 hours to acquire the documents and seek more information.
The three elected officials: supervisor, clerk and treasurer....the only regular members of the Design Review Board (Wednesdays @ 2pm...meetings not video recorded/archived) have already met with the developers/owners/businesses that MUST GET THESE PROPOSED CHANGES in order to get permits to do business as they propose.
The township staff presented a site plan review to the Design Review Board. From what I can find, (see minutes March 14, D.1. and April 18, D.2. and May 2 agenda) those three elected officials have already given their approval for the projects, pending further approvals from the other committees (there was a Planning Commission meeting with a "public hearing" in April for the Maple Theater and liquor, etc. issues, however, there are no minutes to read from that meeting on the township website) and acquiring the necessary permits and variances.
Do you think your opinion and voice really matters at this point? Are these proposals "done deals"? Recall: Tim Horton's ? The members of the OTHER committees are "appointed" by the board and one member is also an elected trustee.
Where are the minutes of the "stealth" April 2 meeting of the Planning Commission and the discussion of the Maple Theater issues? Where are the WORDS that would be the proposed changes to the ordinance? This information is critical to the public hearing discussion. None of us will be able to see that information unless we go to the township offices (first opportunity is early Monday morning) and request a copy of each....or we attend the meeting and watch the township staff give a power point presentation ...and then try to formulate a question or comment in the allotted three minutes and hope for a response that actually answers the concern. Will those three minutes make a difference?
Both proposals presented in the public hearings MAY be something that the public agrees with.
My argument and frustration is that the Township should make the ISSUES open and transparent many days and in many public articles/postings long before the public hearing. That would give the public time to evaluate the proposal and to choose whether or not to attend the hearing and to ask pertinent questions and/or make appropriate comments.
A liquor policy issue was tabled at a Board of Trustees meeting earlier this year and has not been put back on the agenda. It was tabled because of "calls" to the township concerning the issue. Well, here is another form of the issue. Are you still concerned? Should there be liquor permitted at the cinema? The other issue, should there be a zoning change at Tele/Sq. Lake?