I was asked by a reader to talk about what is happening with the South Boulevard and Squirrel Road corner in Bloomfield Township. South Boulevard and Squirrel Rd. SW corner. Directly across the street is Auburn Hills. A short distance to the west is Pontiac and a short distance to the east is Troy. This is basically the NE area of the Township. The property is now vacant and was the site of a former Kroger store, strip mall and bank.
Manchester Squirrel LLC, owner/developer is paying less than $15,000 in taxes for 9 acres of land. Why? Family, friends or favors here? Brian Kepes (the new Twp. Treasurer) family owns a smaller but adjacent land and perhaps is trying or has hooked up with the owner/developer of the 9 acres parcel. Currently the parcels are separate. Total space under consideration for development is over 10 acres.
While employees at the Twp planning department claimed that there is NO project submitted for this property, all the twp. posts or notices and comments from Supervisor Savoie and Patti Voelker, Planning Director indicate otherwise. My visit to the planning department claimed nothing to show me and if I wanted to know more about the Master Zoning Plan I can FOIA what I want to know.
The 10+ acre property is now zoned commercial only. The issue appears to be about trying to get a zoning change via the Master Plan to multi-family zoning or similar. Kepes and developers were reportedly canvasing the surrounding neighborhoods prior to the Aug. 2016 primary with project ideas and conceptual plans. Many homeowners were NOT happy about what they were hearing at that time. High end residential? Over $2000/month in rent? At this location? On swampy land? The homeowners suspect a bait and switch as to what will be built there. The issue has Giffels-Webster/Clearzoning and Survey Monkey hired to to a study and a survey and to make recommendations to the township about land use. Apparently a "not named" and "not submitted" conceptual plan will be presented at the Dec. 7 "OPEN HOUSE" by someone. Who?
NOTICE OF PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE
To be held at the Township Hall
Wednesday, December 7, 2016 from 5:00pm - 7:00pm
4200 Telegraph Rd, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303
FYI: Planning Commission meeting held on Nov. 9:
On Nov. 9 at the Planning Commission meeting, Planning Director Patti Voelker presented a three page letter to the Planning Commission (PC) under the agenda titled: ITEMS NOT ON THE AGENDA. Really? The township is so sneaky that they can't even print an agenda item about what they want to talk about? What? They didn't want the public to attend? Or know that the developers have resurfaced since August? Or that new Treasurer Brian Kepes' family owns some of the property being considered for zoning change? The 3 page letter Voelker presented was dated Nov. 2. More than enough time to properly present this item.
Voelker explained at the PC meeting (to some degree) what the 3 page
letter was about, but because the PC members were just handed the
letter and had no clue this was coming weren't exactly sure what was
happening. Ms. Voelker did "invite" them to a Dec. 7 meeting to learn
more. Stealth agenda item for sure. No other discussion or action on this letter/news
was taken at the meeting. I later learned that not everything in the letter was true. No minutes yet for that meeting. It's
been close to 30 days.
If you would like to read the 3 page letter go to the BOARD
PACKET of the 11/14/16 Board of Trustees meeting. It was NOT in the Planning packet for this meeting. See minutes on demand:
The next 2 Planning Commission meetings regularly scheduled for Nov. 21 and Dec. 5 were cancelled. Both were scheduled to meet before this "invited" "open house" on December 7. But the township can and will present something at their "open house" on Dec. 7 instead. Why isn't it called a "public hearing"? Our own local government leaders doing a "surprise attack". We should start the meeting with a moment of silence and remembrance of the sacrifices made for our freedom. Then suggest a recall of Savoie and others. My opinion.
FYI: Another meeting: Board of Trustees on November 14, 2016:
Believe it or not, Supervisor Savoie put the study and survey issue on the Nov. 14 Board of Trustees agenda as an "UPDATE". How in the world could this be an "update"? Nothing was ever said to the trustees prior to this meeting. The trustees should have been given the opportunity to discuss this issue presented by employees and Savoie and either approve or reject this "study and survey". But they were never asked to do that. The Trustees should have DEMANDED that from the elected 3 administrators and employees. This study and survey was not part of the approved 2016 budget.
At that Nov. 14 Board of Trustees meeting, as an agenda item, Ms. Voelker just told the trustees what her planning department was doing and then "invited" the trustees to try to show up at the Dec. 7 meeting for more information. Let's keep the "details" secret until Dec. 7. Savoie is calling this proposed meeting an: "OPEN HOUSE" not PUBLIC HEARING. OMG. What "rules" will Savoie put forth at this meeting? Will there be a quorum of the board at this meeting?
Can this township leadership get even worse than it has been? Yes! How? Savoie added his 2 cents at the 11/14/16 meeting about the agenda issue, then decided to deny public comment for this agenda item only. That was not decided by the trustees. They were not asked about public comment for this issue. Many people were in the audience to speak to the issue. But Savoie just said NO. His rules of the night.
To continue his (Savoie) "RULE" over his Township"SUBJECTS":
Obviously thrilled with his shutting down the public comment on this item on 11/14, Supervisor Savoie and his "gang of trustees" then proposed on the next 11/28/16 Board of Trustees agenda for a resolution to limit public comment. Among other language, the resolution/policy restricts public comment to the beginning of the meetings ONLY. Vote was 5-2 with Trustees Buckley and Walsh voting no. Then Savoie "ruled" that the resolution just voted on shall begin immediately. Another Savoie rule? He then just announced that agenda #12 named "public comment" will be taken out of posted order and be the next agenda item for the night. Another Savoie rule? After that, no more comments from the public that night. The supervisor did take his opportunity to comment about what was said by the public during their 3 minutes of time and then to add his comments and spin to all the remaining agenda items.
This study/survey/vacant land/ master zoning plan entire issue is so twisted with many versions from the township of what it is all about that many people will think this is the way it should happen.
NO ! I must continue with my blogs to try to explain to the taxpayers how Savoie, et al, are conducting "business" at the township. What is going on is very disturbing and frightening. My opinion. Please attend the Wed., Dec. 7 meeting at 5 PM - 7 PM. See also the added permanent link in the right side column of this blog : Bloomfieldconfidential.com another blog. Check back often.
Our tax dollars are being used to help a "non-identified and non-submitted proposal" for that 9 acres plus a Kepes family property by paying for a" survey and study". This appears to be leading to a predetermined outcome in my opinion. The MASTER ZONING PLAN most likely will be changed to multi family based on this unauthorized study and survey process. Once the master zoning plan is changed from just commercial, a proposal will finally be submitted. What will THAT say? The neighbors figure it won't be the upscale townhouses being suggested but will be either section 8 or refugee housing type quality construction. Not many trust Savoie or Kepes or the township in general. Too many vendors contributing $$$ and conflict of interest going on.
Other Option ?
An option is available for a developer to submit a plan and just request a VARIANCE to the zoning. NO master plan change is required. IF done this way the developer would have to build what they submit and is approved. Taxpayers have a chance to weigh in on an ACTUAL submitted plan. The submitted plan would need to go to ZBA for variance in zoning. That could be denied. No change in zoning. However, by changing the Zoning ahead of any submitted plan, with NO proposal, any future proposal that fits the new zoning category could basically require the township to approve their project that fits within the guidelines of the zoning... or perhaps the township would end up being sued.
What is really being done here at Squirrel and South Boulevard? Is it a freebie to Treasurer Brian Kepes and Manchester Squirrel , LLC developer to do a land use and marketing study paid for by the township taxpayers with the apparent intent to change the Master Zoning Plan? Any potential developer should pay for land use and marketing surveys on their own land. Projects should be submitted to the township with fees paid. Proper procedure should be followed by the employees and the Board of Trustees and other committees. Is Family, Friends and Favors how this township is governed? Looking at the political contributions by vendors and developers, etc. to some of the officials, I'd say township government does have the appearance of "pay to play". My opinion.