Oct. 22, 2019 Board of Trustees meeting
By David Gordon

Highlights:

1 – MASTER PLAN

- A new Master Plan was approved by a slim 4/3 vote.  Historically, the plan receives a unanimous vote but this Board, led by Supervisor Marlene Chockley, is divided on nearly every issue.

Treasurer Lenore Zelenock and Trustees Wayne Dockett and Tawn Beliger had problems both with the substance and the process of the Plan rewrite which costs $35,000 and took nearly two years.

Supervisor Marlene Chockley pushed for the adoption because she said the new plan “opens up lots of land on Whitmore Lake Road for development”, one of her main priorities.

2 – PARKS

- A proposal to set aside “forever” only five acres at the 23-acre North Village “park” passed 5-2, with Zelenock and Dockett voting “no”. Zelenock questioned why only five acres are being set aside instead of the nine acres recommended in an expensive Board-approved analysis. No answer was given. Dockett simply is against the Board acting as developers.

Two developers are hoping to erect condos, houses and mixed-use structures on the only vacant land left on Whitmore Lake. The four acres will have some green space and a band shell, among other possible amenities. A lakefront beach is being considered.

Chockley expressed concern about creating a defined area for parkland. “I’d hate to have to eliminate five houses to save a quarter-acre of open space,” she said.

In response to why so little land was being set aside for park, Trustee Janet Chick said “the township can’t afford to maintain all that area.....it is a burden on the community.”

However, the Board has refused to ask residents if they would support a dedicated millage to keep the whole site as a park.

3- SEWER TAX HIKE

- Clerk Kathy Manley had hoped to mail a survey with the December sewer bills about the proposed $5M sewer basin but the idea was tabled for several reasons; mainly because it was the last agenda item and nobody wanted to begin the discussion after 10 o’clock. (Especially since the Board voted to end the meeting at 9:30pm....and blew right past it’s own deadline....again...as usual.)

The Board last month voted 5/2 (Zelenock & Dockett opposed) to spend $200,000 on an engineering study for the proposed $5M retention basin at the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP). Township engineers TetraTech has been selling the idea of a basin as a necessity since 1988. All previous Boards have rejected the spending.

Manley hoped to do some outreach with the survey and determine how popular the $5M basin is with sewer customers who will see their fees skyrocket. In addition to the basin, some Trustees also want to spend $3M on sewer line expansion. Together, these two projects will raise sewer rates about 40% for the next 20 years.

Chockley, Chick and Trustee Jacki Otto now say that sewer expansion is their #1 Priority . None of them said anything about that when campaigning in 2016.

4 – MARIJUANA

– About five members of the public spoke at the beginning of the meeting supporting a ban on all pot stores, grow operations or processing in the township.

Ms. Mary Devlin, Ms. Amy Scholl, Ms. Shannon Koenig, Ms. Margaret Ridell and former Police Chief Karl Watkins spoke against allowing pot into the township even though 63% of township residents approved recreational pot in the 2016 election.

Mac’s Marina owner Sam Iaquinto spoke in favor of the new businesses and said most downtown proprietors support it too. “Dispensaries will bring badly needed foot traffic downtown and add $280,000 a year in taxes to our general fund,” he said.

5 – ROAD COMMISSION

– County Commissioner Sue Shink said that as a result of controversies this year, a re-organization of the Washtenaw County Road Commission is being considered.

There are four ideas being explored:

  •  Expansion of Road Commission (RC) from 3 to 5 members.
  •  Transfer of RC duties to the County Board of Commissioners.
  •  Change RC members from appointed to elected.
  • Retain current system.

The shake-up is the result of a massive public outcry against two RC projects – the cutting of historic landmark trees along N. Territorial and Mast Roads (400+ trees were felled) and the proposal to spray herbicide along all county roads (which never happened after the push-back.)

-30-

Read that again. Quickly. Read it aloud. Feel the footfall of syllables. Breathe. Bite each consonant. Speak surely, confidently. You know what it means. They know what it means. Everybody knows what it means.

Squish-puff is what happens when revenue-neutral has no empirical, quantified basis. It was a planner's ploy, a tasty morsel of insider jargon, to convey an illusion of financial planning, to focus attention where he wanted it focused, away from the possibility of a real downtown park. The limits or your language are the limits of your thinking. Control language to control thought.

Revenue neutral now has a seat of honor, the foundation of the Lake Park dream evisceration. Chockley invoked it again at this meetup.

Up next? A map showing just how little park space will be provided by the latest Board retrenchment, a proposal to reserve as Public park property a  band of public land only 400 feet deep, measured from the lake's edge.

 

As a public service, here are the packet Documents broken out and separated into separate pdfs: 

 

  • 6:15PM Northfield Township Board of Trustees Regular Meeting LiveAgenda    - Coming Soon 
  • 7:00PM Northfield Township Board of Trustees Regular Meeting LiveAgenda    - Coming Soon

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The smart way to watch these meetings is with our LiveAgenda.  A LiveAgenda is a copy of the meeting minutes with agenda items and comments turned into links to the meeting video.  Click and watch only what you want.  Jump directly to the Agenda items you want to view.

 

 

Meeting Documents:

 

Unethical Behavior Charges Leveled

Master Plan Review Postponed Again

Manager Recommends Limiting Public Input

by David Gordon, Sept. 24, 2019

The Board of Trustees last night spent nearly four hours struggling with the marijuana question – whether or not it can be grown, processed and sold in Northfield Township and if so, with what restrictions; this despite a super-majority of residents approving recreational marijuana use 2-to-1 last November.

They don’t call it “Dope” for nothing.

The meeting room was packed with residents. Of the nearly 50 people who attended, most spoke in favor of marijuana. The first “Call to the Public” took nearly an hour as more than 20 people spoke in favor of marijuana businesses while a handful spoke against.

The quotes below are not exact “word-for-word” but efforts were made to accurately convey the substance.

Ms. Dana Forrester, owner of Lovey Monkey Tatoo on Main Street, began with what many considered the most powerful message…that downtown businesses support marijuana dispensaries. She said these businesses are in favor:


  • Mac’s Marina
  • Dee’s Ice Cream
  • Little Porky’s
  • Rick’s Bait Shop
  • Driftwood Marina
  • Polly’s Market
  • Dominos Pizza
  • Whitmore Lanes
  • Coney Island
  • Bobber Down
  • Dockett’s Pawn Shop
  • Employees at Marco’s Pizza
  • Employees of Peaberry’s Coffee Shop
  • The Township Library
  • Living Water Church


We want the traffic,” Forrester said. “We want the tax revenue. We want improvement in our downtown. I urge you Board members, listen to the businesses that are here. We want it.”

Ms. Mary Czech, owner of Family Video on Barker Road said. “I don’t think it (marijuana business) will save Northfield but it can move us forward.   It’s not going to be our anchor. It’s just a small business and we should give it a chance. I do believe it will help the downtown community.”

Mr. L. J. Walter said: “One simple point. I’ve been here for a year. There are more closed businesses than open.   If a marijuana business is the catalyst to make something happen, I am 110% for it.”

Lifelong resident Ms. Cristina Dillen said she was recently diagnosed with a serious illness “and getting around is very difficult for me. I live in Whitmore Lake and work here. Going to a dispensary in a different town; all the way in Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor, is very hard for me.”

Mr. Harrison Withers said “I’ve been a resident for two years. I saw downtown and said, ‘Well that’s not so good’. Dispensaries are not going to fill downtown.   Grow operations aren’t going to take up every square inch of agricultural.  We’ve got to take what businesses we can get and start somewhere.”

Mr. Kevin Terry said he’d attended a marijuana open house at Family Video last Thursday. “ I learned….the (marijuana) people take their business very seriously. A cannabis business knows all eyes are on them and they need to operate above board. I’m a CPA and would service these tax paying, revenue generating businesses.”

Ms. C.C. Koenig took the opposing viewpoint. She said “having these businesses…does not equal tons of tax revenue. I don’t think right now is the time to have them. “

Ms. Elizabeth Wheeler, who brought one of her two young daughters, said “Not wanting to have it (a pot shop) here has nothing to do with my children. They’re going to get it whether or not there’s a shop. I don’t think putting a pot shop in our town is the best thing.”

A number of people questioned the ethics of three Board members -- Supervisor Marlene Chockley, Clerk Kathy Manley and Trustee Tawn Beliger. These three helped circulate a petition that led to a “ban pot” initiative on the upcoming Nov. 5 ballot.

Ms. Meredith Counts said “You circulated the petition and we didn’t find out about that from you. It creates a lack of trust.   63% voted in favor of legalization. You implied that maybe we didn’t understand what we voted for and I think that’s a disrespectful suggestion.   And you verified or certified your own petitions. It feels like dirty politics.”

Mr. Craig Warburton said the three Board members acted with bias when they scheduled a special meeting and enlisted the township attorney to write ballot language in order to meet the county’s referendum deadline.   He said the three Trustees should have recused themselves from voting on the matter and if they had, the motion to ask the petition be put on the ballot would have failed.

Ms. Stacey Sloan said “There are three of you on the board who are subject of some serious allegations. None of us appreciate it. The people here deserve to know their interests are not being met. “

Sloan’s comments and many pro-marijuana speakers got rousing applause from the audience and Supervisor Chockley did not appreciate it.  She lost her patience after the last speaker and said to the residents: “Now stop that!”

Trustee Dockett countered with: “I believe people in the audience can show their appreciation”.

Then the Board got down to business, kind of. There were 24 motions and amendments relating to the marijuana debate merely to establish the number of businesses and their locations.

It took the Board three votes just to agree on a date for extending the “Sunset Clause” (by which time the Board must vote to opt in or opt). They finally agreed on Nov. 12, a week following the much-anticipated Nov. 5 ballot initiative to prohibit all marijuana in the township.

The Board voted to establish 500’ as the distance a dispensary must be from a school or church…BUT….directed the attorney to check whether it’s legal.

Here’s a condensed list of only the Motions that passed:

  • Sunset Clause moved to Nov. 12
  • Set a 500’ buffer from a marijuana establishment to other public facilities.
  • Remove Class C medical & recreation facilities from the Agricultural district.
  • Remove Class B medical facilities from the Agricultural district.
  • Twelve grow permits will be available – six for recreational and six for medical.

And here’s a short list of motions that show why the meeting went four hours:

  • Require security cameras (including recordings and recordkeeping) comply with all State requirements.
  • Require that grow operations change their odor filters every year or to manufacturer’s specs, whichever timeframe is shorter.
  • Change language from “zoning code enforcement” to “ordinance enforcement”.

 

We built this meeting's LiveAgenda on the draft 9/24 meeting minutes.  By clicking many of the speaker names and agenda items, you can zoom directly to the point in the meeting video where the speaking or agenda item transpires.

As predicted by Treasurer Lenore Zelenock at the beginning of the meeting, the agenda was “way too big”.

As the clocked ticked past 10:30 pm, the Board tabled half of the agenda including review of the new $35,000 Master Plan and a discussion of policies to limit public input, as recommended by Township Manager Steven Aynes.

Aynes’ report recommends completely eliminating the 2nd Call to the Public and Supervisor Chockley is pushing to discontinue the long-time practice of allowing a non-speaking member of the public to “donate” their three minutes to another speaker.

The meeting adjourned at 11:07 pm.

 

Reefer Madness v5-30-

Reefer Madness v3

 

What was the April 23rd Board meeting?  A Pot Party.  They couldn't stop talking about it and hung around, like unwanted guests, until 12:15 in the morning.

In a nutshell, this is how it ended up:  As a result of Board votes modifying the Planning Commission's and Professional Planner's efforts, you can't buy marijuana in the retail area.

This is a slight correction from an earlier version of this report.  The Board voted to prevent Marijuana Microbusinesses in the Agricultural area.  Those are small businesses that both grow and sell marijuana.  Larger scale grows are permitted, Lobbyist backed Corporate behemoths, Big Tobacco Bigfoots, Deep pockets and dark money, etc.  But  not small mom and pop type enterprises, the kind that built America.  You can guess where I'm going with this so I'll stfu.

The highest concentration of township population now can't walk to a pot shop. They can't walk home from the pot shop.  They're forced into their cars and onto the highways.  If there were any truth to the fearmongering that mass quantities of pot buyers will be ripped out of their minds every time they hop behind the wheel, our board's selfishness has consigned people and innocents to their deaths.  

  • Does cognitive dissonance come any purer than that?

Marijuana was voted Legal by 68% and 69% majorities in the two precincts comprising Whitmore Lake.  The Board sighed and looked concerned.  "Someone else can do something," they said.  "Everybody's doing it," they said.  "Nobody's doing it," they said.  "Ann Arbor," they said.

 

WHMI's Reporter sat through the entire grind.  Here is his report.

 

Oh yeah, for standing up for her convictions and belief in the goodness of human nature - and in the rights of citizens to freedom of choice and personal responsibility, what "Conservatives" constantly yammer about believing in, Trustee Janet Chick deserves notice and commendation. 

She brought in two young businesspeople to explain and present the successful free enterprise side of the legal marijuana business, their business.  They did an outstanding job.  So did a former director of the State's Licensing and Regulatory agency with whom they had worked, who talked about the details and policy implications. 

More than one of the churchgoers who so loudly inveighed against legalization's arrival was utterly unaware that more than half a dozen prospective legal marijuana businesses have already been rebuffed by the township. 

No one's banging down the doors to site here.   Why would they?  Everything the township voters decide the Board overules, spins, "interprets," or "improves" to death, mangled beyond recognition or walled in by byzantine regulation.

I'll be reviving the LiveAgenda.  This meeting must be seen to be believed.