Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Township BUDGET REVIEW - Vote coming soon!

Hi All,
There is a Bloomfield Township  study session on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 @ 7 AM  to discuss the Budget Review for fiscal year 2017-18 .   Yes,  7 AM is the correct time.   The vote on the budget will be taken at a future Board of Trustees meeting prior to the end of the fiscal year (March 31, 2017).   This meeting is open to the public.  It is held in a conference room on the upper level.  Ask at the Clerk's office to buzz you into the private access area.


While reviewing the Table of Contents for the Preliminary 2017-2018 Budget  I asked myself,
what is missing from this 20 page budget? 

Answer: these subjects and line items have traditionally been included in former budgets but are MISSING now:


RUMOR has it that the new auditors for the township (UHY),  Supervisor Leo Savoie, Finance Director Jason Theis and perhaps others have deemed it NOT NECESSARY to include the above line item information in the BUDGET and is (according to the rumor) only required to be part of the yearly audit.

There is a DEBT summary page in this preliminary budget on page 4 of the PDF.  That summary has occurred in previous budgets.  What is missing are the pages for each issue with LINE ITEMS giving the details such as how much of that budget goes toward water and sewer department employee wages, health costs, pensions, etc.  How much does the township pay for water or how much for sewer services?  What is the principal payment of the debt?  What is the interest payment?  When will the debt be retired or was it refunded?

 As a comparison, the 115 pages in the current operating 2016-2017 budget should be the model for all future budget presentations vs the 20 pages in this proposed budget.    I highly recommend taking the time to view the 2 different budgets and the data provided .   You will be able to see those "missing pages"and information in the 2016-2017 budget. 

FYI:  Remember,  there is an active $11 million dollar class action water and sewer lawsuit against the Township.  We have the right to see what this township is doing concerning the water and sewer department.   Is there any contingency plan if the township loses the lawsuit?

Why should the taxpayer need to FOIA information about finances/budget?  This is OUR money.   This information should be readily available and included in the budget and archived on the township website and available 24/7.     
You can and should ask the elected leaders:
  •  Why did the water and sewer financial data and the details for the various debt accounts  get eliminated from this budget? 
  •  Are there other issues in the budget that concerns you? 
Share your thoughts and ideas before the vote.
Here is how to contact the Board of Trustees:


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Is a PUD zoning project coming to Bl. Twp.?

Hi All,

The 18 acre land being sold by the BHSD to a developer is being planned as a PUD  (Planned Unit Development).   The school district is still the owner of the land.  The minutes/agenda containing the sale of the Long Lake Property formerly known as Wabeek was June 29, item G under Board Business. The June 2nd Presentation includes much of the information regarding the Wabeek property: https://www.bloomfield.org/community/master-property-planning

Why hasn't the sale been finalized?  Is it because the school district is exempt from property taxes so the developers are waiting until the planning and development process is finalized before the final sale when the township can begin collecting property taxes?  

Why are the developers not going the traditional residential development route?  22 homes on 18 acres seems like a simple request.  It was mentioned at the DRB that no zoning change is required to develop as  PUD.  Why is the township considering the PUD zoning for this project?  I have questions.

Monday, February 6, 2017  @ 7 pm

The Bloomfield Township Planning Department will present the project to the Planning Commission. The Developers will also have the opportunity to describe and present their project.  At this meeting the public has the opportunity to learn and to have public comment.  The PC packet has many pages of information, site map, and other details.  I highly suggest you visit this link.  Be patient while it loads.  You will find this agenda item on pages 7-62  out of 113 pages of that document.

Here are my thoughts and concerns:
I am wondering WHY is the "residential"  project is being presented in this unusual PUD zoning manner?   Will the PC members be told and understand the full ramifications of having this project as a PUD?  Will the potential buyers on that 18 acres fully understand what buying into a PUD zoned development means?  Will they understand the different considerations when applying for a mortgage? Will the PUD restrictions and the HOA documents proposed for this project be part of the PC hearing and be noted and recorded and included in the decision making by the PC members?  I think this project being presented as a PUD vs a regular single family residential subdivision should be carefully examined.  All documents should be part of the decision as PUD's  can and often include the right to have commercial units.   Is using the PUD zoning right for Bloomfield Township?

I attended the Design Review Board (DRB) held on February 1, 2017 @ 2pm.  The minutes from that DRB meeting are included in the PC Packet.  It was mentioned that this is the first time the Township has ever used the PUD  designated zoning for a residential project.  Well, that could be a possible problem because the PUD zoning does allow more than just residential according to this sentence I found on the internet:   
"There’s growing demand for PUDs because they offer incredible convenience, with restaurants and even dental clinics often right downstairs."  
Really?   Will these homes be permitted to have a business on their property?  Or, will some lots be designated for some other purpose besides residential?  It didn't sound like that at the presentation at the DRB meeting,  but without making the HOA documents part of the approval process,  could the documents change?  Could the developer or the future owners change the HOA and documents and add commercial elements to this property?  After all, if this project is approved as submitted, it would be under the PUD zoning.  The township should know everything possible before any approval for this project is rendered. 

I also learned at the DRB that any variances for property size and other issues DO NOT go to the Township Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) but are handled and decided by their own HOA for the PUD community.  However, that said, there will be  ZBA  meeting on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 @ 7pm  to  review requests for pillars at the entrance to the property and a gazebo on the common land because they are accessory structures.  Otherwise, issues such as lot line requirements, size of lots and more that are normally required in the township are handled within the HOA of the PUD instead of the Township normal ZBA process.

I would support a single family residential development on this land.  HOWEVER,  I am not sure if developing the land as a PUD zoning project is the right decision.  What will the PC do on Monday night?  Could this project be completed without the PUD zoning?   I think yes and that option should be presented to the PC members, too.   My opinion.

FYI:   I search the internet and other sources for more information on PUD.   

from:  http://birminghamappraisalblog.com/appraisal/pud-vs-condo-whats-the-difference/
"Planned Unit Development (PUD)
The Planned Unit Development, or PUD, is a type of residential development where the homes are usually grouped together on lots that are smaller than typical and where there are large and open park like areas within the development. Ownership is in fee simple, which is similar to most other residential homes that people are familiar with. The common areas that are within the development are owned jointly by all the residents, so if there were 50 homes then each owner would have 1/50th ownership. Another feature is that the land beneath the home is also included in the ownership of the property.

PUD’s have become popular over the years because they can add specific requirements that normal zoning ordinances may not address. Many believe that these more stringent guidelines can help preserve property values in a neighborhood. Advantages of a PUD development includes the ability to include protected natural areas that cannot be developed, such as a park or other green area. Some features also include nature trails or bicycle paths."

FYI:   Another link on PUD: https://www.redfin.com/definition/PUD
"Planned Unit Development (PUD)
A term used to describe a housing development not subject to standard zoning requirements for the area. With permission from the local government, a developer establishes criteria that determine the private and common areas and building guidelines. These may include street lighting designs, street width standards, architectural styles, building height standards, land coverage ratios, common area park or amenity requirements. Planned unit developments are often used to cluster homes closer together than would otherwise be allowed by local zoning laws.

The lines between condos, townhomes, co-ops and planned unit developments (PUD) can get blurry. Here’s the definition of PUD and what you need to know before you buy PUD real estate.

A Planned Unit Development (PUD) is a community of homes that could look like single family residences, townhomes or condos, and can include both residential and commercial units, but on paper, they’re most similar to condos. When you’re shopping for homes and see the type of ownership listed as “condominium,” even though the home looks like a typical house or townhome, then it’s most likely a PUD.

A PUD includes ownership of a “lot,” with common areas either owned by a homeowner’s association (HOA) or collectively by all invested parties. If you buy a home within a planned unit development, you’ll have to pay homeowner’s association dues. PUDs often have amenities beyond the scope of most condos, like private tennis courts and outdoor playgrounds that are maintained by HOA fees and only open to homeowners. The monthly dues can be very high in some communities, so it’s important to include them in your monthly budget when deciding whether or not to buy a PUD.

Before You Buy

Planned unit developments also come with rules and regulations set by the HOA, which you’ll want to ask for before you buy so you know exactly what you can and can’t do with your property. Redfin Agents often advise their clients to meet with the HOA president and review the meeting notes from the past six months to understand how the association makes decisions before making an offer.

Mortgage lenders will review a loan for a home in a PUD in the same way as they would a condo; the PUD needs to meet certain requirements, like having enough reserves saved up, proper insurance coverage, and reputation for collecting dues on time. If the PUD does not meet their requirements, you could be rejected for a loan.

There’s growing demand for PUDs because they offer incredible convenience, with restaurants and even dental clinics often right downstairs. And thanks to the homeowner’s association and shared amenities, PUDs can have a greater sense of community, where neighbors get to know each other well. However, the HOA dues can turn off some buyers.

If you’re thinking about buying a home in a planned unit development, be sure to talk to a real estate agent about the extra steps you should take before you buy and what it might mean for your home value down the road."

FYI:   some more links 

Please come to this 2/6/17 @ 7 pm  meeting to get the specifics for THIS proposed project.