The Board of Trustees meeting will be TUESDAY, May 28 @ 7 PM due to the Memorial Day holiday. Go to the Board Packet (found under Board of Trustees)....it takes a while to load on your computer...285 pages.
There are several items I feel are of concern on this agenda.
- Commercial development @ Tele./Sq. Lake
- The failure of the Township to include information about a contract/ doing work for the City of Sylvan Lake in the Township Annual Reports.... and NO supporting data of how that business deal is working/ or not.
- The Township's plan to issue limited tax general obligation bonds... $85 MILLION
- The need to protect the new "Cinema" liquor ordinance ...and NOT lift the restrictions in the AGREEMENT w/ Maple Theater.
THE FIRST is another commercial development that is adjacent to residential. The neighbors are getting trees... and what else? Well, the property zoned OR-1 has risks because the property may go for "special land uses" and that can mean almost anything. The township leadership/zoning changed the O-1 to OR-1 for a dance studio on a second floor of an office building. Well, that 2 story building is being demolished and a new "strip" of store fronts will be built. What will occupy those spaces?
New Proposed Development and Lot Split at the SW corner of Telegraph and Square Lake.
From p.92/285 of Board Packet for the Tuesday, May 28, 2013 Board of Trustees meeting:
from 11/19/12 Planning Commission Minutes.... when REZONING was being requested:
Note: in Nov. 2012, when the lots were proposed to be combined....the property needed rezoning.
Now: in May 2013, somehow combining the lots is just a lot split...with no rezoning needed.
Excuse me? If one lot is zoned O-1 and one lot is zoned OR-1 and you take some land from one and add that land to the other.... there is a change in ZONING for some of the land. Right?
So, what is going on? The Board Packet for this item goes from page 44/285 thru 121/285. A lot to read and digest. There was a lot of signatures from residents OPPOSING rezoning. While rezoning is SAID to be not part of this issue...it seems as though it should be.
SECOND ITEM OF CONCERN: The Township employees do work for the City of Sylvan Lake. There are several contracts between the Township and that City. There is nothing mentioned in the Annual Report (see pages 179-247/ out of 285 pages in the Board Packet) of Bl.Twp. that reflects what work they do/how many hours are devoted to Sylvan Lake work/ or how much revenue the Township may collect and retain from the contract with Sylvan Lake. I have argued in the past, that the contract does not seem like a good deal for the township taxpayers. After the 2011 two year contract expired, the township RENEWED the contracts again, without providing any data as to costs/benefits. I would like to see data made public. Our employees are paid benefits/pensions, etc. Township residents are responsible for that... and the City of Sylvan Lake is not responsible for those long term costs.
THIRD ITEM OF CONCERN: and quite frankly freaks me out !!!
The township leadership held 2 study sessions on April 22 and May 13 to discuss the Defined Benefit Plan and Pension Obligation Bond. While open to the public...the meetings were NOT audio/video recorded for the archived records. Printed minutes from the last meeting are found in this board packet for this meeting. See pages 18-43/ out of 285 of the May 28, 2013 Board of Trustees board packet. SEE also pages 252-263/ out of 285 in the Board Packet. Charts and other financial data provided. Below is what the Township Board intends to vote on at this TUESDAY, MAY 28 @ 7 PM meeting:
READ THE FOLLOWING CAREFULLY... the township must pay this...and if can't, can levy ad valorem taxes on all taxable property. No vote needed by taxpayers. Please take time to read ALL the board packet pages mentioned above. $85 MILLION
DO WE NEED TO PETITION FOR A REFERENDUM? Time limited.....to do so.
Shown below ARE OTHER BONDS that the Township already has...plus more coming up for the road resurfacing subdivisions.... ADD the column of Outstanding Principal .... then add interest....
And after May 28.... add another $85 million to the list....where bonds must be paid BEFORE ALL OTHER... cost/liabilities/. Remember, All employees got an across the board 2% raise this year. How much can Township taxpayers afford? The health/retiree/pension costs are increasing at an unsustainable rate. These bond figures don't include other tax costs found on your twice yearly bills from school districts, DIA, Smart Bus, Zoo, Oakland Community College...etc.
FOURTH ITEM OF CONCERN:
The issue of the Liquor License at the Maple Theater and whether or not certain restrictions should or should not be lifted.
The RESTRICTIONS are outlined in an agreement between Cloud Nine Theater Partners, LLC and the Charter Township of Bloomfield dated June 29, 2012. Why are there restrictions? Partly because Jon Goldstein, owner of the theater came to the township requesting a liquor license so his patrons of the movie theater could have a drink or two during the viewing of the movie.
Liquor Licenses are given to approved RESTAURANTS that have full menus. However, the Township leadership and employees and lawyers for the theater and the township drafted a new ordinance especially for the owners of Maple Theater...and any that might follow the same way: Ordinance 633 to allow Cinemas with Class C Liquor License. Beer, wine and spirits.
As the ordinance was going through the process of becoming enforceable, Mr. Goldstein started changing his business plan. There became a "coffee" shop...then a "cafe" and now he even mentions that people will want to eat "dinner" there. The liquor license even has an "entertainment" permit. There is even the possibility that the adjacent vacant bank building WHICH IS AGAIN SEEKING A CHANGE IN ZONING (even though there is a long standing agreement with the adjacent residential neighborhood that prevents a change in zoning) will be bought or leased by the theater.
In their attempt to accommodate Mr. Goldstein's goal to revive the Maple Theater as an "arts" theater, the Township leadership wrote and approved a new ordinance especially for CINEMAS.
The BEST thing that the township leadership did was have an AGREEMENT to protect that ordinance. The WORST thing the township leadership could do is to change that agreement. The second worst thing would to have the theater get any VARIANCES to that ordinance. In my opinion, Mr. Goldstein has had his business plan in place from day one.... and revealed it piecemeal to the township.
What are the restrictions? Only patrons going to the "cinema" may purchase the liquor. There is a two drink limit. There is a wristband for those drinking alcohol at the "cinema". No liquor may be served at a G rated movie. There are some more...but basically, the agreement and the new "cinema" ordinance was for those attending the "cinema" to view a movie. You can read all the details and the agreement in pages 264-277 out of 285 pages in the board packet for the May 28, 2013 Board of Trustees meeting.
This issue was discussed at the previous B. of T. May 13, 2013 meeting and can be viewed on the archived site to hear the township leadership and their thought process that night. Thankfully, they TABLED the issue. Well, it is off the table...and on the AGENDA again. I hope they stay TRUE to the new ordinance and keep the AGREEMENT as written.... liquor just for CINEMA patrons. I hope they don't change any part of the agreement.
If Mr. Goldstein wants to serve dinner, coffee, desserts, he should open a restaurant and get a different liquor permit.... not violate the Cinema permit.
Many will say this is no big deal. Let them drink...eat....hang out.
I say.... the ordinance was written specifically for patrons having a drink at a movie...while watching the movie. Frankly, I don't think the ordinance should have ever been written...but the township leadership and employees are always trying to accommodate the commercial developers and business people.
Well those accommodations are putting more businesses adjacent to residential where historically that would not happen. The hours of operation are increasing later in the evening and earlier in the morning. The height of commercial buildings is increasing and going beyond the stated limit. The Zoning Board of Appeals is granting so many variances that I wonder why we even have rules in the township anymore. People know that the current leadership ... allows for "interpretations" to occur. It is easy to build what they want and get as many signs and sizes of signs that they want...not need...or permitted. The township is even ready to break a long standing agreement with the residential area and allow the building next to the Maple Theater to go to B-2 Zoning...unless ...someone cares about what is right. Take a close look at what is happening....more and more people not caring about the rules and the element of crime constantly increasing in our community. Even independent businesses from the metro area know that on Thursday night...they can plant their signs on every corner for free advertising and nothing will be done about it....because the township offices are closed for business until Monday. This week...it is Tuesday. It is time to pay attention to what is happening at the Township offices. My opinions.
A salute and thanks to all our veterans.