Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Supervisor Savoie-Developers' Friend?

Hi All,
I spent months trying to convince the Bloomfield Township voters to elect David Thomas as our new Supervisor .... and remove current Supervisor Leo Savoie.   Savoie won by 452 votes. Only 30% of the citizens made the effort to vote for their local leadership.

Therefore, current Supervisor Savoie is back to his usual NON transparent .. keep you in the dark... way of governing.  What you don't know... is better for him because he knows how he wants the projects done.  My opinion. 

What is Savoie not telling you this time?  Well, the Monday Planning Commission meeting is Wed. because of Labor Day. But our E-News didn't inform us about the change.

At the WEDNESDAY,  SEPT. 7 Planning Commission meeting @ 7 pm,  planning director, Patti Voelker,  is presenting a "cursury" review of the Village at Bloomfield Park master site plan.  Her "packet" of information prepared for the Planning Commission board members is all of 7 pages.  Those board members don't know it... but they are being asked to recommend to Savoie and the Board of Trustees...  how HE should vote/proceed on this Master Plan  at the next Joint Development Council meeting on September 21, 2016.   Why cursury?  This is important.  Savoie's vote possibly will make amendments to agreements and grant variances and interpret the legal language affecting the Village at Bloomfield new development.

How can the planning commission members make a recommendation if they are missing key information?  Do they even know WHAT the issues to be decided are all about?  No.  Not from those 7 pages.  Nothing in those 7 pages tell of the changes the Developer wants to make to the long standing agreements and ordinances.  Except perhaps signs.  But that is not even clear. Savoie and Voelker know what those changes are. Why are they just giving a "cursury" review?
The planning commission members won't know they are missing information.  They'll only be told what Savoie/Voelker want them to know.  Savoie already knows how he is going to vote... he just needs the Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees to agree with his point of view... without really understanding the entire issue.  Planning Director Patti Voelker knows that.  Thus, the 7 pages of board packet.  

What is not given to the planning commission members ... or the public to prepare for this meeting is:
  • A copy of the 425 Agreement concerning the conditional transfer of property between Pontiac and Bloomfield Township and the tax agreement
  • A copy of the Joint Development Agreement  dated 11/27/02 between City of Pontiac, Bloomfield Township and the former developer
  • A copy of the City of Pontiac Town Center District Zoning Ordinances
  • A copy of the Bloomfield Township Agreement dated 4/17/08
  • A copy of the Bloomfield Township Zoning Ordinances
And even more important, they were not given these items in a "packet" to review for the meeting:
  • A copy of the June 11, 2016 memo that the developer outlines his REQUIREMENTS that there must be clarifications, variances and amendments to the agreements and ordinances listed above for this Master Site Plan to work.
  • A copy of the June 29, 2016 memo to the JDC at the August 17, 2016 meeting from Patti Voelker (Bl. Twp) and C. James Sabo (Pontiac)  responding to 6/11/16 memo
  • A copy of any of the minutes from previous JDC meetings 
  • The DRAFT copy of the minutes from the last JDC meeting of 8/17/16 where the memo /response was on the agenda.
There are 87 acres of land north of Square Lake Rd/  on Telegraph that will soon be developed after more than a decade of a failed former project and the "skeleton" buildings left behind.   REDICO acquired the bankruptcy rights and is/has prepared a proposed master site plan.  However, that land has restrictions placed upon what/how it can be developed.

Three members of the Joint Development Council that will work with the developer are Mayor Waterman from Pontiac,  Supervisor Savoie from Bloomfield Township, and a "neutral" member, Dennis Cowen.  However, when the "neutral" member shows up at a township meeting invited by the Supervisor to...."share" his opinion to the voting trustees..not so neutral.    I think there should be disclosure about relationships among the people/developers/vendors/etc/ involved.

Another problem with this MASTER PLAN being presented by REDICO... is that it only identifies potential buildings that will remain (others to be demolished)  and the master plan only suggests the likely uses for each building.  On 5/18/16 the developer stated that they will have a master plan of all the details in the near future.  Yet, no tenants have been announced to my knowledge for these buildings and thus no firm uses identified either.  A movie theater or a grocery store?  etc.   However, the requirements being requested by the developer for clarifications, variances and amendments  to be decided NOW ....those "changes" seem to make the project as a whole... less desirable to have in our community. My opinion.
  • Developer is requiring a change in the development agreement (DA) from 1100 sq. ft / minimum per residential unit  to 650 sq. ft. minimum  in the section of multi-family living
  • Developer does not need to change the minimum sq. ft. for Assisted Living facility as it is on property outside of this DA agreement but he uses this facility in his argument to get smaller sq. ft.
  • Developer plans to keep the existing parking structure with the development, but wants to have the use for that structure and part of a building be an automobile retail store, which is currently not a permitted use according to the DA. 
  • Developer wants to have more than one hotel approved for this site.  Currently only one hotel is permitted and it must have specific amenities.. ie: food service, etc.  Developer wants another hotel without amenities.  Or,  just one hotel...but what then would it be?  with or without amenities? Amending the language now is not right. Are 2 hotels needed there?
  • Developer wants clarification as to town homes as accepted use ... Pontiac variance
  • Developer wants amendments and variances as to architectural design.   Increase allowable % of dry-vit or using painted pre-cast insulated concrete panels... on certain elevations or to allow spandrel glass windows on certain facades.
  • Developer wants to amend the agreement to allow LESS that a 30" minimum height for buildings
  • Developer wants to amend DA to allow MORE than a 20" light pole height
  • Developer wants to amend DA to allow MORE signage than allowed.   Detailed signage is proposed... but no tenants have been identified and even which buildings remain for what purpose are not definite.
  • Developer wants the size of signs / how high on the building for the signs/ how many signs per building...etc.  all changed and increased.  Even way up on the parking structure... big sign/ big lights...
  • Developer is REQUIRED to provide a shared parking analysis for consideration by the JDC.  Supervisor Savoie offered up at the last JDC meeting that the township simply gives the township (no bid) traffic person, Mike Labadie, the job to do a "joint" utilization study... with Pontiac, Twp, and developer.  Again.. no bid.. just hand the job to the guy... don't ask price. 
  • Developer also wants to eliminate the requirement of an easement for vehicular access...from one owner... for the opportunity to get it from another.  Why?  Need to know more of that story.
How can the planning commission members make a decision  TONIGHT (9/7/16)?  These are issues that need discussion... thinking..  and understanding of all the different agreements, variances and ordinances.  My thought is this agenda item should be discussed... then tabled until the next meeting for further discussion and recommendations. The township should give the members and the public all the documents needed.   I know these documents exist, because I have gone to the JDC meetings.

My hope is that the Supervisor and the Planning Dept. Director  share the real issues with the Planning Commission members so they can make informed and well thought out recommendations.   Savoie will VOTE  at the JDC meeting on these and similar issues.  His vote will have a huge impact on the direction and quality of the future project at the Village at Bloomfield.  The citizens should know what is being proposed and how our Supervisor is protecting our interests.... or not.

As always,  my opinion.

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