I can't be the only person who noticed the disappearance from the Township website of former Manager Howard Fink's favorite work of fiction, the page claiming that Northfield Township voters had voted for "the Township Manager" form of government in 2012. 

Quite the opposite was true.  The 2008-2012 Board attempted to hire a Manager but did not complete the task.  The core of that 2008-2012 Board was kicked out of office by Township voters in November, 2012. 

It was their replacements on the 2012-2016 Board who hired Howard Fink as Manager. Four years of Township wide turmoil ensued.  Biltmore rose and fell.

A reform Board was elected in November of 2016.  Fink panicked. He fled to the relative comfort of Park Township, deep in Michigan's DeVos country.  Door to Door Billionaires.  Mercenary Mendacity.

FWIW, Fink's heightened interest in haircuts had telegraphed the fact that he had been shopping his resume and interviewing. As an anonymous attorney commented, Fink was a good interview. 

Fink was tack sharp and underchallenged by Northfield Township  He was a master of the cornerstones of municipal governance: policy prattle and government finance. His failings were a few social engineering tics, a facileness that rarely showed cracks or telegraphed doubts, a too willingness to lie when cornered. 

Fink ran the Northfield Township Board like it was their idea.  Fink shaped and controlled their perceptions. Fink fueled their fantasies. Fink owned them.

Throughout he remained true to his Liberal ideals, ideals I share.  What are a few fibs between soulmates?  With luck he'll someday land a position in a place befitting his underchallenged, underappreciated talents, a hyper planned upper middle class mecca like Pleasanton, California: diverse, education and educating valued, vineyards, close enough to a coast that sushi bars have something to work with, taco trucks to die for and municipal budgets meted out in acre-feet of cash.

 

LemonJames at Washington Monument 541x858 50pct January 6th, Insurrection Day, Local's Selfie at the Washington Monument Rage Rally

Long story shortened, the 2016 Board arrived with the promise of reform. Three fresh faces: Supervisor Marlene Chockley, Clerk Kathy Manley and Treasurer Lenore Zelenock. 

Any promise of progress was soon crushed by the unholy evangelical marriage of Jacki Otto, Janet Chick, right wing extremist Tawn Beliger (pictured above at a Washington DC Protest) and the agnostic but loudly Liberal hating Libertarian Wayne Dockett

Otto and Chick dictated that the best way to control the new Supervisor was through another Manager.  (A manager more easily controlled, it must be noted.)

If Fink had stuck around, the job would have remained his. That's how quickly they flipped.

Steve Aynes was hired. He was a nice guy. He knew his business. He spoke calmly and even mentioned the truth about the net costs of development at his public job interview. He knew what Fink knew but was less strident.

Thus began another four years of increasingly broken Board Meetings, a Supervisor bent, folded, spindled and mutilated by nonstop manipulation and deceptions large and small of the All-Republican cast of characters.  Aynes was restricted to the signing authority of a gnat and micromanaged to a standstill.  After approximately forever, the Board realized that Aynes was pinned down and hesitant to decide anything.  Blame Board micromanagement.  The Board led with the steadyness of a fish gasping for breath, flip-flopping on the bottom of a boat.  The insane vacillation around the issue of doing something/anything/wtf about 75 Barker Road was only one example, exhibit A.

 

But wait! There's more! 

Coming next, the story of Downtown Non-Parking and the Tsunami that's rolling down U.S. 23 toward the first downtown pot shop south of the Livingston County Line. 

 

 

2021 02 09 Northfield Township Special Meetings VideoNorthfieldImage 800x450 66pct

 

2/9/2021   Two Special Northfield Township Board meetings in One LiveTimeline (Aynes walks the plank)

 

LiveTimeline

CALL TO ORDER of 6-00pm Special Meeting

PLEDGE

INVOCATION

ROLL CALL

ADOPT BALANCE OF AGENDA

Public Comment: Lisa Lemble

AGENDA ITEM 1.

Dignan makes a motion to go into Closed session: "Pursuant to MCL 15.268(a) to consider the dismissal, suspension, or disciplining of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, or to consider a periodic personnel evaluation of, a public officer, employee, staff member, or individual agent, per the request of Mr. Steve Aynes this will be a closed hearing"

  • Manley:< Motion passes 7 to 0
  • (The transition to closed session happens in fits and starts)
  • Jennifer Carlisle shares on her desktop the Notice of Closed Session. This will remain visible in the public zoom meeting room for the next hour+, well into the 6-30pm special meeting.
  • Boardmembers vanish from public room
  • Aynes appears: "Jennifer, it's you, me and Lisa, huh?"
  • Dignan reappears: "Jennifer, are you there still?"
  • Dignan disappears,
  • Aynes reappears at the top of the public facing zoom window
  • The Board remained in closed session for 51+ minutes. Part of that 51 minutes elapsed during the four or five minutes of transition following the vote.
  • The stream as it transpired was recorded continuously and uninterrupted to the Township Livestream account as the 6-00pm stream. The Boardmembers left public chat, secure from public observation in a separate zoom virtual meeting room.
  • For the purposes of this LiveTimelined stream, I eliminated the need for viewers to either watch 51 minutes of nothing or to guess where the meeting resumed. I cut out most of the 51 minutes of silence, empty room, and dead screen. The 51 minutes I replaced with a 30 second title.
  • The 51 minutes was streamed untouched to the Township Livestream recording of the 6:00pm special meeting.
  • There is one exception to the contentless-ness of this 51 minute interval. Manager Aynes did not attend the closed session. Physically, he remained in his Township office, fitfully reading bundles of paper. The zoom thumbnail reflecting his activity remained visible at the top of the public facing zoom meeting screen during most of the first closed session. So I time-compressed and overlaid his action-packed 51-ish minutes of office work onto the 30 second title. Aynes was muted. There was no audio.
  • Dignan reappears in public zoom room.
  • Boardmembers reappear in public zoom room.
  • Open session resumes.

Citizen Comment: Marissa Prizgint at 7-03pm

ADJOURNMENT of 6-00pm Special Meeting

CALL TO ORDER of 6-30pm Special Meeting at 7:04pm

ROLL CALL

ADOPT BALANCE OF AGENDA

AGENDA ITEM 1. Closed session: Pursuant to MCL 15.268(a) to consider the dismissal, suspension, or disciplining of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, or to consider a periodic personnel evaluation of, a public officer, employee, staff member, or individual agent, per the request of Mr. Steve Aynes this will be a closed hearing

AGENDA ITEM 2. Possible action as a result of Closed Session

Dignan: Motion to amend the Township Manager's employment agreement as follows, Should Mr. Aynes resign from his position, he shall be entitled to the severance amount referenced in paragraph 9.b of his employment agreement dated July 31st, 2017, contingent upon him entering into a severance agreement. Is there support?

  • Manley: I'll support
  • Dignan Motion by Dignan Supported by Manley. Roll call vote, please.
  • Motion passes 7 to 0

Dignan: I'd like to make a Motion. I move to amend the Township Manager's employment agreement as follows, Should Mr. Aynes resign from his position, the Board shall have the right to place him on paid administrative leave for the duration of his 30 day resignation period as set forth in paragraph 9 of his employment agreement dated July 31st, 2017.

  • Otto: I'll support.
  • Dignan Motion by Dignan Supported by Otto. Any discussion on the motion? Hearing none, Miss Manley will you call the roll?
  • Motion passes 7 to 0

Dignan: Finally, I'll make a motion. I move to accept the resignation of Mr. Aynes from his position as Township Manager, effective immediately, and to place him on paid administrative leave for the period of 30 days, after which time he will be entitled to his severance amount referenced in paragraph 9.b of his employment agreement dated July 31st, 2017, as long as he executes the release in the severance agreement.

  • Manley: support
  • Dignan Motion Supported by Manley. Any discussion on the motion? Hearing none, Roll call vote, please.
  • Motion passes 7 to 0
  • Dignan: Mr Aynes, we appreciate the time that you served this community and we wish you well. Thank you Sir.

ADJOURNMENT of 6-30pm Special Meeting at 7-43pm

Boardmember chat

 

 PC Chair Larry Roman is focused and efficient at running meetings. No wasted motions, no wandering in the weeds, no wasted time.

 Still, 20 minutes surprised.

 

1. CALL TO ORDER

2. ROLL CALL

3. ADOPTION OF AGENDA

4. CALL TO THE PUBLIC

5. CLARIFICATIONS FROM COMMISSION [None]

6. CORRESPONDENCE [None]

7. PUBLIC HEARINGS [None]

8. REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

9. UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

10. NEW BUSINESS [None]

11. APPROVAL OF PRECEDING MINUTES: January 20, 2021 Regular Meeting

12. FINAL CALL TO THE PUBLIC [None]

13. COMMENTS FROM THE COMMISSIONERS

14. ANNOUNCEMENT: Next Regular Meeting – February 17, 2021

15. ADJOURNMENT at 7:20 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

Click the video and its description - the text below the video window - to engage the youtube chapter feature.

It's self-explanatory and exploratory. Give it a try. 

 

VideoNorthfield 2021 01 27 DDA image

 

 

 

Below is a LiveTimeline.  A LiveTimeline maps the meeting agenda to the meeting video. Click a link to land at the spot in the video recording corresponding to the named point in the DDA meeting agenda.  I've thrown in the notes I took during the meetup.

LiveTimeline

A. CALL TO ORDER

B. ROLL CALL

C. CALL TO PUBLIC: None

D. FINANCIAL REPORT (Secrist)

E. MINUTES 12/16/20

F. Parks and Rec Report (Wilbur) (Dignan)

G. Supervisor’s Report (Dignan)

  • Chestnut Development { 50 homes, 200 units of barrier free, single floor, assisted living apartments } Livonia Builders { 50 homes behind Teaberry and extant homes} Woodbridge {site foreclosure} 75 Barker {motion, splitting parking, rfp by feb ?!!, "Linear" building (strip mall) on eastern border} Al Dente {skirted by sewer lines due to former use as a marina, 100x136 foot building add on for pasta drying rooms and another production line. Al Dente Owner's partners want business to move to Novi area.}
  • Doug Wilbur mentions Ann Arbor's Allen Drain, relocated to subterranian, allowing building above drain.
  • Dignan mentions possibility of a 20 foot right of way, a crossing, above sewer. Ad hoc committee studying 75 Barker comprises Dignan, Zelenock, Mochow.
  • Dignan mentions being in the process of buying the old Family Video property, historic house.
  • (Hadn't an architectural firm planned to locate here? A CannaBiz rejected by previous Board?)
  • Forrester asks about defunct signage {Pizza House, Darlene Curtis real estate}
  • Doug Wilbur on setting aside community parking.
  • Dignan responds with comments about park's ad hoc use for parking and people using the lake.
  • Benefits of Parks and Rec millage and community buy-in mentioned by Cecilia Infante.

H. OLD BUSINESS

I. NEW BUSINESS

J. BOARD MEMBER COMMENTS

  • Doug Wilburon ad hoc park use
  • Jeni Olney"hasn't seen this much activity in a long time," worried about permits, signage, parking, discomfort with tire ruts left by enthusiastic park and lake users, implied infringement on Livonia Builders' right of plunder.
  • Doug Wilbur interjects: $5000 parks and rec budget was slashed to $1200. Park property has always seen ad hoc use. Things will be fine
  • Forrester
  • Iaquinto
  • Matt Ritz
  • Secrist
  • Infante
  • Dignan Redevelopment Ready Communities, Parking,
  • Griffith DDA proposals from the past, Demolition of 75 Barker, Driftwood Marina
  • Dignan on Marina regs, can't operate a marina without a building, Loss of Township Ordinance officer
  • Doug Wilbur on Soamar's futile five year quest to do something with their tumbledown marina property
  • Dignan on talking to Joey at Polly Market vs previous owners (Chuck & Kate?)

Last call to public: None

K. NEXT MEETING (2/24/21)

L. ADJOURNMENT

 

 

Board OKs Local Pot Businesses
Downtown Property Value Jumps 27%
Angry Treasurer Calls for Firing Manager & Planner
Residents Pack Meeting & Speak Up!
Calling All Volunteers

Nov. 12, 2019
By David Gordon

“Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em”

The Board of Trustees last night adopted a Marijuana Ordinance that allows a limited number of pot shops downtown; micro-businesses in the rural district and larger grower/processor operations in areas zoned for industry.

The ordinance passed 6/1 (Trustee Tawn Beliger opposed) after hours of discussion. Changes were made to include pot shops downtown. The ordinance is effective Dec. 17. Manager Steven Aynes is to draft an application process ASAP.

(link here to the ordinance in the packet)

Are Property Value Set to Skyrocket?

One immediate impact of the referendum was a big bump in value for at least one township-owned property.....the old township hall/fire station at 75 Barker Road.

A buyer last week offered $275,000 but after the vote Nov. 5 allowing pot shops downtown, a second buyer offered $350,000 (a 27% increase). Both buyers may be planning to open pot shops. No decision was made to sell and some suggested that the value of the North Village property be reconsidered.

Off with Their Heads!

“It’s time to fire people,” said Treasurer Lenore Zelenock at the four-hour mark. “Because come 2020, we’re going to get fired (for allowing this incompetence to continue)......”I am appalled that three years into this administration, (Manager Steven Aynes) still can’t get our agendas right.....” (link @ 3:43:00)

Zelenock’s frustration with Planner Paul Lippens resulted from a major error in the marijuana ordinance which would have prohibited pot shops downtown, among other issues.

Residents Speak Up!

Pro and anti-pot “activists” packed the meeting and many spoke at the “First Call to the Public” which lasted more than 45 minutes. It was obvious the Nov. 5 referendum vote (56% to 44% in favor of allowing local pot businesses) changed very few minds.

Mary Devlin, a long-time resident and frequent speaker at Board meetings, announced this would be her last appearance. She said she was disappointed with the referendum turnout, upset with the outcome and exhausted by her efforts. (We hope she returns soon.) (10:15)

Northfield Township Wants You!

There are multiple openings on various township boards and committees.
Land Preservation Committee – 3 openings
Downtown Development Authority – 3 openings
Planning Commission – 2 openings
Parks & Recreation Committee – 1 or more

Contact Supervisor Chockley. Office: (734) 449-2880, ext. 15 * Cell: (734) 730-0795 * This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Rest of the Story

“Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em”

Before the final passage, Beliger made numerous motions to block marijuana availability in town and to completely prohibit it in the rural area. Her attempts all failed on 4/3 votes. Her only support came from Supervisor Marlene Chockley and Clerk Kathy Manley. This little drama took 10 minutes.

Beliger labeled as “reckless” the four Board members who supported pot businesses, warning “your names will forever be attached to this”. She said the Board was opening “Pandora’s Box”. At one point, she asked “Do I need to get down on my knees and beg?” Her plea went unanswered.

Chockley tried to mandate that pot businesses donate to local charities and that medical and recreational businesses be required to “co-locate” in the same building. Both motions failed for lack of support.

Trustee Jacki Otto argued for hiring a part-time employee t minimum wage to handle pot applications but got significant pushback from Trustees who said such an idea was premature.
Off with Their Heads!

Zelenock’s main issue at this meeting with Manager Aynes was that he put the pot ordinance at the very end of the agenda. Several residents said they found the placement disrespectful, “a slap in the face”. Often Board meetings run so long that the last items are postponed. This meeting didn’t adjourn until 11pm.

Zelenock blamed the four Trustees for the Manager’s gaffs. (His actions) “are not logical. Not acceptable; It’s time to fire people,” she said. “So Ms. Chick, Ms. Otto, Mr. Dockett and Ms. Beliger, I want you to hold our township manager accountable....you hired him....(and) you rehired him. “

Aynes got a two-year contract renewal this spring on a 4/3 vote with only 45 seconds of discussion and no performance review. The Supervisor, Clerk and Treasurer voted no.

“We pay over $90k to our planners, over $120k to our manager....and we’re still having these issues. We need to....(search) for a new planner,” said Zelenock.

After the meeting, Zelenock addressed her issues with the planner and the deleted passages in the pot ordinance. “This is just another in a string of embarrassing, unnecessary mistakes. Multiple changes are made to documents; weeks later they come back to the Board and the changes we asked for are neither highlighted nor tracked. How could he have deleted pot shops downtown without informing us?”

Trustee Janet Chick moved to re-inserted the deleted ordinance language. Her motions passed 4/3 with Chockley, Manley and Beliger opposed....their positions unchanged despite the Nov. 5 vote of the residents.

Zelenock spoke to the Board’s frustration that Aynes and Lippens had failed to draft guidelines for the pot business applications. “You’ve known about this for weeks and we’ve got nothing,” she said.

The Board directed Aynes to draft application guidelines by the Nov. 26 meeting.

Residents Pack Meeting & Speak Up!

Barb Wutka asked that the Board prohibit pot businesses in Precinct 2 since voters there opposed pot while Precincts 1 & 3 favored it. (Later in the meeting, her suggestion was dismissed as unrealistic by a majority of the Board). (12:38)

Sam Iaquinto, owner of Mac’s Marina and supporter of pot businesses, said he was disappointed in Beliger, claiming she badmouths local businesses; grandstands at Board meetings and flip-flops in her capacity as Board Rep to the Park & Recreation Committee. “Tawn Beliger is a disappointment to the voters and citizens of Northfield Township,” he said. (14:35)

Mary Czech, a business woman who owns several properties downtown, supported local pot shops saying “we need growth....please honor the will of the people you swore to represent.” (20:40)

Her sentiments were echoed by residents Jon Gura (23:40), Dana Forrester, James Trunko, David Gordon, Wayne Davidson, Craig Warburton, Adam Olney, Todd Hawkmeyer, Coyote Windsong, Jerry Griffin and Marissa ?????

James Trunko made the point that Northfield Township residents have “now voted twice” to allow marijuana and urged the Board to act quickly.

Opponents who spoke of their disappointment and concerns were Monica Miller, Sharon Koenig, Margaret Riddell and Planning Commissioner Brad Cousino.

-30-

 

What the planner noted during this meeting: The regulations controlling pretty much every aspect of manufactured housing communities are dictated by the state.  What appear to be local ordinances are simply verbatim copies of Michigan regulations.   

The meeting was over in about 28 minutes.

If you watch the meeting via the youtube window below, you'll gain the considerable advantage of being able to watch at double speed.

 

On the Agenda:

10. NEW BUSINESS:

  • A. Case #JPC200017, Recommend to Approve, Approve with Conditions or Deny, the request of Northfield Estates, 855 West Eight Mile Rd , Whitmore Lake, MI 48189 for site plan approval to install a 2,280 square foot clubhouse and 1,200 square foot office located adjacent to Emerald Circle within the center of the Northfield Estates manufactured home community. Parcel number B-02-06-200-019 and zoned MHC, Manufactured Housing Community District.
  • B. Recommend to Adopt 2021 Calendar

 

12/02/2020 Northfield Township Planning Commission meeting Agenda

12/02/2020 Northfield Township Planning Commission meeting Packet