Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Public Hearing/ REZONING/ Was it Legal?

Hi All,
I question what was done by my township "leadership"  and the attorney we pay to protect our rights.

The following is my opinion and the facts as I see it.
Watch the Archive Videos of Board of Trustees Meetings  - June 24, 2013  
Agenda item # 8   Public Hearing    Consider Approval of the Final Site Plan and Proposed Rezoning for 4145 West Maple Rd.

Tonight there was a PUBLIC HEARING.   This particular  parcel is at the SW corner of Maple and Telegraph  next to the Maple Theater and adjacent to a residential neighborhood called Birmingham Farms Subdivision.  This agenda item was legally noticed in the paper to the public and to the neighborhood with the written announcement  to accomplish a specific purpose: To change a 1.29 acre parcel with an old bank building from zoning classification O-1 to B-2 and to amend the legal 1962 Consent Decree protecting the property and to approve a site plan use for the existing former bank building.   The specific property parcel was intended  (via a legal agreement in 1962)  to be zoned  O-1  as  a buffer between residential and commercial.   

WELL.... That entire concept..agenda item..proposal...legal notice..... was changed DURING THE COURSE OF THE MEETING.   People were changing the agenda item.  How can that be legal?   I protest.  I may even show up at court or write to the judge when the township goes to file the amendment to that consent decree.   I object to the proceedings and the consent decree "amendment" that was not really explained at this public hearing.    I bet someone or all of the township leadership  will need to watch their own TV appearance.... so they know what the heck  they  even motioned and approved on this agenda item.   THIS IS/WAS  A REZONING ISSUE.   A VERY IMPORTANT CHANGE TO OUR TOWNSHIP.   The new zoning classification "runs" with the land.  So, there might be retail proposed for that location today....  and perhaps a fast food restaurant later.  That would now be legal....because of the change to  B-2 classification.

This agenda item needed a re-do as there were questions by some of the leadership and it was motioned to Table the agenda item and put it on a future agenda. However, the township leadership failed in a  vote to TABLE it, a mistake in my opinion.  Instead, they (six people and two attorneys -one for the land owner and our township attorney) tried to  create during this meeting a new condition for the property rezoning.. giving  different dimensions/ different classifications.... different ideas and ways to rezone the property....but saying the "details" will be worked out later.   Really? Then there was a motion, exactly what I'm not sure,  and then with a VOTE  that...whatever it was... motion was approved.    Egads.
The vote:   4-2   Devine and Roncelli voted NO.     Khederian was absent.   Savoie, Barnett, Kepes and Buckley voted YES .   But who knows what was really voted on? 

I guess something was passed at that meeting for this agenda item.  We'll need to wait to read the minutes and the quickly written details of any new legal documents created this evening....as the documents prepared for this agenda item and posted in the board packet were NOT the ones approved.

BOTTOM LINE:   Something on that parcel of land is now zoned B-2 and I question whether or not it was done legally.

Apparently, a  legal consent decree means nothing.  The township Board Packet has the document for review if anyone wishes to read it.   The Township solution to change or amend the legal document, the 1962 Consent Decree:  is, why don't we just  WRITE a new ordinance, of course.  The township is great at writing new ordinances to fit every immediate need to make things "work".   What else is needed to change the zoning?   Well.... Throw in some conditions:  such as requirements for parking spots.  In the past, the ZBA usually  approves every parking lot variance the DRB sends to them.  So, don't count on any "parking provision"  to keep unwanted B-2 businesses out.   NOW, at this location, on this property, you have the same conditions as the Tim Horton B-2 zoning situation all over again.  Commercial B-2 adjacent to residential.  The situation becomes:  the property owner has "rights" too.... different rights now than the O-1 rights,  but now the "rights" are for B-2 development.    Our attorney did not, or possibly cannot or will not defend against businesses that our B-2 ordinance allows. 

One thing I did NOT HEAR at the meeting.... was someone making a motion about the proposed ordinance.  I did NOT hear it specifically motioned and/or approved.  This would be the new ordinance the Township wrote about changing the zoning on this particular property.   I expect to see that back on a future  agenda.   But will it???  That ordinance was another one of the township's written "special ordinance to fit an immediately needed situation to make it work".    

Again, in an effort to PLEASE a commercial customer.... the rules and regulations go out the door.  The proposed B-2  business just "wants to get his permits to start the work".  Hey, he has a space already in that same shopping center.  Follow the rules.   Nobody even SHOWED the site plan of this guy's new (currently existing in another location) endeavor at the meeting.  Why not?  The agenda item also was to approve a site plan.  Did anyone look at a site plan for the old bank building?  The public didn't see any plans.  What kind of PUBLIC HEARING was this?

Going back to the Legal Consent Decree of 1962  supposedly protecting the adjacent subdivision:
Why did the Birmingham Farms subdivision leadership tell the planning commission that it was OK to rezone the adjacent commercial property thus basically OK-ing the breaking of the 1962  consent decree?   Why? Was it no big deal?  Was the approval  given only verbally?   Was there any letter signed by the board of directors of the Birmingham Farms subdivision?   Were there any signatures from the adjacent homes filed on the record?  Did our Planning Commission members demand verification of that given statement?
Thank you, Jan Roncelli, Clerk/Trustee, for checking for some facts in the neighborhood.  According to your statements at this public hearing... you went to the subdivision and talked to some people and they  did not know that their subdivision leadership took that position on the rezoning.  That should have been enough reason to TABLE the  agenda item.  But, NO.   Why not, Leo?  You cast the vote to make it a tie....thereby failing to TABLE the agenda item.   What couldn't wait another two weeks???

The following is a made-up scenario....but interesting....

My gut wants to tell me  ...that feeling that something isn't quite right..... but I have no proof... just a suspicious imagination???    My gut says:  since the Birmingham Farms subdivision president never showed up for the first  RE -zoning request  in 2012 at the public hearing (to my knowledge)  or mentioned in the board packet info.  So why show up now?   Did anyone at the township have a meeting with him?  Was a deal made?   Hey,  was anything said like:  agree to break the legal document since 1962 protecting the homeowners in the subdivision, so the developer can rezone from O-1 to B-2 ?   Maybe ... the township can come into your subdivision and do asphalt repair......  on the township dollar?

Am I accusing anyone of anything....NO.  But it does make interesting reading.
Did the above scenario  happen?  Of course  I don't know. ...but I have to admit:  that imagined scenario was running through my head as I watched my leadership conduct BUSINESS at the Board of Trustees meeting on Cable 15 on June 24, 2013.    

Gee, at this same Board of Trustees meeting,  A REAL  and  different agenda item was presented:  Agenda Item #3:   2013 Asphalt Resurfacing Program
A road department program, according to the board packet.... that had been discontinued since 2006...all of a sudden...oh, no, excuse me, it was noted in a township letter  that contracted asphalt repair by outside contractors was budgeted back in for this year.  However, upon fact checking the Township  $ 4 Million dollar ROAD budget,  I could not find any line item  that was ZERO last year and is now almost $200,000.  So, excuse me,  when and by whom was this asphalt repair job by outside contractors get approved to be started up again?  Please know, the whole process of bidding was done quite legally, with request for bids/ awards/ etc.   Hubbell Roth & Clark engineers were NOT used.  All plans/specs/inspections were/will be done "in house" by township employees.  However, guess what subdivision gets the asphalt repairs on the township dollar?  Yup.  Birmingham Farms Subdivision.  The same subdivision where the subdivision leadership told the Planning Commission that the subdivision was ok with the rezoning, etc.   Coincidences happen all the time.

That asphalt road repair job that was presented by the road department on tonight's agenda item passed tonight without much, if any discussion.  Cost:  just under $200,000.....so asphalt repair it is... done on township dollars  for this SAME  Birmingham Farms subdivision.  The subdivision is involved in the O-1 to B-2  rezoning issue because of its adjacent location and the 1962 Consent Decree  with the adjacent commercial land.   In fairness, there is another subdivision benefiting from this asphalt  contract.   No Special Assessment District for either of them.   Why those subdivisions?  Why not your neighborhood?  Did you ask for road repairs?  Did they?   Are you being asked to pay for your road repairs through Special Assessment District costing thousands?  YOU paying back Bonds for15 years for resurfacing your own road?  Ask yourself:   How is that  FOUR  million dollars  EACH YEAR of your tax money spent on roads in Bloomfield Township?  Don't know?  Time to ask.  The ROAD DEPARTMENT millage ends in a few years.

I watched my government vote for commercial development rather than defending the residential community and the 1962 legal document that protected it for so many years. 
That land has been zoned O-1 for a long time.  The O-1 owner had the right to request rezoning.  The township had the right to deny that request.   But they did NOT.

Isn't Bloomfield Township supposedly known for it's residential areas?   Not any more.  More commercial.  More crime.  More concrete.   Go figure why.


1 comment:

  1. Maybe we could get our crumbling subdivision roads fixed on the township dollar since we got Tim Horton's next to our subdivision! We fought that for how long to no avail!