The back seat view of the Meeting:

Despite the new Planner's September 16 presentation - proving that there is no need for a new community survey five short years after the previous survey - the board has committed the township taxpayers to plunging ahead.

As a refresher, Planner Leah Dumouchel analyzed the 1996 & 2010 surveys and concluded:

  • The previous surveys were constructed well enough to offer actionable data.
  • Resident priorities have been broadly determined.
  • The top three priorities are natural features, downtown development, and recreation.
  • Residential development does not appear to be a strong enough priority to justify amending the master plan at this time.
  • Specific questions remain for which community input would be valuable.
  • Community engagement tools other than a survey may be more appropriate to gather that particular data.

The story continues beneath the Read-More fold...

The Survey was discussed several times at tonight's meeting.  It began with PC Chairperson Marlene Chockley's address to the Board during the First Call to the Public.  It continued during the Comments from the Commissioners period where growth and our Planner's September 16th presentation were discussed.

You can watch the relevant ten or fifteen minutes of the meeting using the LiveMeetingMinutes.  Or you can scroll down  for a transcript of the Comments from the Commissioners portion of the discussion.  (below the Read-More button if you're seeing this on the Home Page)


In her comments during the 1st Call to the Public, Chockley asked for less meddling. 

During the first Comments from the Commissioners, Chick said that "nothing or little" had been paid to Cobalt.  She said that despite having sat through the August 25th meeting where Wayne Dockett pounded the table about the $8416 in taxpayer money that had been already paid to Cobalt. 

Chick described the "completed survey" demanded in a formal motion at the August 25th meeting as "something."  She then described Cobalt's September 8th letter (asking again for input and objectives) as the "something" demanded in the August 25th resolution.  Those "somethings" are not equivalent.

In a breathtaking display of condescension and hubris, our supervisor opined that township residents didn't know about the master plan, zoning, roads, sewers, septic systems or even what a quarter acre looked like.  In this she mirrored the condescension voiced at the recent Planning Commission meetings by Stanalajczo and others.  From this premise Engstrom concluded that survey questions should be "simple." 

Finally, the board talked itself into plunging ahead with the survey, following up by roundly insulting the new Planner.

Other items are highlighted in the LiveMeetingMinutes.

Tetra-Tech's Brian Rubel described the process of planning for expanding the Wastewater Treatment Plant.  He mentioned 2800 additional, existing REU committments, to North Territorial's SAD and to Green Oak Township.  This seems like more than was admitted to before, but I haven't had time to check it out.  Tetra-Tech has $14,000 unbilled from the budget of the 3-18-2015 Capacity study.  That allocation will go toward paying for this engineering work.

Wayne Dockett described his conversation with Lisa Bradford, the Township office employee who resigned in what appears to be yet another reluctant departure. 

The Board declined to approve a contract with a Verizon linked celltower provider.  New-Par wanted to place a celltower behind Fire Station 2.  In exchange, they would pay the Township $16,800 per year, a rate increasing 3% per year.  It was a disappointment for Manager Fink, who put the deal together because it would have paid the Township about $612,500 over the next 25 years.  All that income from a 50' by 50' plot.  This land is now leased to a farmer at a rate of about $27 per acre per year.  In other words, that 50'x50' plot currently generates about $1.68 per year for the Township taxpayers.  At the outset of the lease, the celltower would have paid 10,000 times that rate, 20,000 times as much at the end of the 25 year period.

The Board turned down the Library's request for a refund of the building permit fees.

The new Downtown Planning Group was discussed, with its very interesting aspects.  Board members were emphatic about putting "new people, new ideas, and new blood" in the fifteen member group.  The members will be chosen by Barb Griffith and Howard Fink.  Anybody with an existing role on a Township Board or committee is out.  What is unclear is whether there will be a geographical qualification.  It is to be a "community driven" and "not a consultant's approach," whatever that means.  The Board will decide if the new Planner will be paid to attend the meetings.

Meeting Preview and downloadable documents:

Tonight's topics: Sewage Plant Expansion, Board Room Construction, Another clerk has quit, $16K annual revenue from Cell Tower Contract, Audit contract, Library wants respite from Building Permit fees


At the end of this meeting, during Board member comments, a discussion of the Cobalt Survey occured.  Here is a transcript of that discussion.  It is viewable using the above LiveAgenda, but some prefer text.  It is below the read-more fold.



Dockett: "One question I have is what's gonna happen with the $17,000 for the survey? Are we gonna continue the survey? Does anyone know how that's gonna work, or is that up to the planning commission?  

Engstrom: [interrupting] Yeah Janet Could you

Dockett: Have they already billed for the total $17,000?  If we're not gonna have them finish, I guess?  I don't know."  

Engstrom: [to Chick]: Maybe you could fill him in

Chick: [unintelligible]

Engstrom: Oh; Ok.  Do you have anything else?

Dockett: no

Engstrom: Ok.  Great; I've got a bunch of stuff too but maybe what you're [to Chick] gonna say will answer a lot of my questions

Chick: Well yeah, I kinda wanted to respond to Mr. Dockett and also some of the comments Chair Chockley spoke to.  They haven't gotten anything.  I think they've gotten a little bit.  Howard, have they been paid anything?  They haven't gotten $17,000.

Dockett: No, they got $8,000 something.

Chick: Right, Ok.  So, they are still working on the survey.  Um, at our last planning commission meeting, the planning commissioners, ah, received a list of, ah, not a list of... You haven't seen this cause this is working information from the planning commission that we are considering sending to Cobalt to have them develop questions, but, a lot of the commissioners on the planning commission were thinking that they wanted to shrink it down a little bit... just a, just a few to the point questions to get answers to that we didn't get from the previous two surveys.  I went through both surveys myself.  I read them back to front twice now and I did see some things missing out of both of them.  One in particular and I'm probably gonna hear about it but on the second survey 77% of the respondents said that they wanted more single family homes on one acre or less but what we neglected to ask them was where they wanted it.  So that would be a question that we would want to put on the survey.  Um, and then on the first survey there was no demographics relating to where the, uh, respondents lived that answered that survey so we don't know where the skew might be on that either.  So anyway, we do want to go forward with it.  The planning commission has asked to postpone it until they can review everything that they've been given so far, um, and come up with some questions on their own that they are asking, in fact they asked me to ask you all if you could please think of three questions that you need answered that would help you in making decisions for the community.  Just that, each one of us send them three questions that you would like because they would like to get some buy-in from you, and some input from you rather.  The problem with Cobalt, and I didn't see it at first but I've been seeing it as we've been going through this process is that they were getting a different direction from the board than what they wanted to see.  They're getting another direction from the planning commission on what they wanted to see.   And then they're getting additional information so they're a little confused about exactly what we wanted to ask the public.  So, we're kind of going back to square one now.  And we're gonna let them go through the process the way they typically go through the process when they do a survey.  So, that's kind of an update on where we're at with that.   What they did send out... I think you all saw something so far was to... We asked them to send us something.  They sent us something.  But those three questions on there were questions that came up from the planning commission.  But that is not the end of the survey process.  So, there's more to come, so yeah, they would like to hear from you too please.

Dockett: I know there's other people wanna ask but didn't the new planner say that it was unnecessary, that they?

Chick [interrupting] The new planner gave

Docket [continuing] Didn't she say that at the meeting?

Chick  She gave an opinion.  She qualified it by saying that it was just her judgement or her assessment.  She was willing for anybody to argue that point

Dockett: I just

Chick: Yes, she did, she did. um,

Dockett: [unintelligible]

Chick: No, it's not over.

Dockett: Thank you

Chick: We took her opinion under advisement and we're going forward with the survey.  

Engstrom: Kathy, did you

Braun: I just have two comments.  One is this civic applications event permit.  On page two it says, is the organization a non profit.  If yes attach a copy of the sales tax exempt certificate.  There's no [waves document]  There's nothing attached, so...  I don't know that our ... and then my second thing is just to let the board members know that we're meeting tomorrow with First National bank on M-36.  We're, if there are no glitches, move the township banking to First National.  It's a local bank.  They serve Livingston County.  They have eight branches.  They ahve a drive-through.  They want our business and they're local.  Rick, Pam, Howard will be in a conference call; we'll meet with them tomorrow, show them what we've got. I'm hoping that it all works out.  They'll give us a proposal and... I'm not looking at this as a proposal to turn down but as a proposal to be tweaked so that it works the way we want it to.

Dockett: I've used; I've moved to them too and they're fantastic. Very good.
[Nodding of heads]

Engstrom: Angie, anything for Board Member Comments?  Jackie?
Otto: No, other than the Fire and Police Department Open House was wonderful.

Engstrom: Tracy?

Thomas: No comments

Engstrom: No? Alright, I have just a few.  Jim, thank you for your input on the tech video equipment stuff.  I'm sure when we get to that point it would be great for you to give us the input on that.  I do have one suggestion though, for our meetings, before we get started you have the audio on, so, ... you can hear all kinds of people's conversations and stuff [clipped]

So, a lot of the things you've talked about already.  I had a bunch of notes here on the whole survey thing.  Yeah, I mean it's just taking way too long.  I think there's too many people involved too.  I.  You know I like your idea of giving us just on three questions, you know, and then we're out.  Y'know I don't think we're ever gonna satisfy all the trustees and all the commissioners on what the survey should look like.  Um, I thought it would, when we agreed to pay for this, I thought it was specifically just for the question of growth and it appears that the survey has grown into [gestures broadly] y'know,

Chick: Master plan

Engstrom: right! And I don't think that was what the whole idea was.  It was to find out, "do we want growth and do we?"  We do know we want growth.   And, y'know, what Howard sent out this afternoon, later on this afternoon, I don't know if everyone got it but, y'know the, they broke up the township in the northeast and all that, I think it's a great idea in theory but y'know you can't ask people to answer the question of where it should be cuz many people are uh don't know about the sewers and septics and roads and the lay of the land and wetlands.  I think that's a job that us as elected officials and appointed need to make those decisions on the wishes of the residents.

Chick: That's what it is; it's a wish.  If you could see it where would you like to see it and where?  You know, where would you like to see it given all things being equal?

Engstrom: Right.  But

Chick: Everyone in the township knows where the roads are.  I mean.

Engstrom: Right, but if someone said ok, let's have the respondents say let's put it right here on the north part of southeast section, I mean, it's not feasible.

Chick: But if if somebody wants to see it there,

Engstrom: Well they won't, that's why you have a planning commission.

Chick: laughs

Engstrom: If 90% of your respondents put it right there, what are you guys gonna do?
[laughs all around]

Engstrom: Uh.  My other, only just thought, and it's been on here before, is this, the quarter acre.  Many people do not know what a quarter acre is.  You know I sold real estate for twenty-eight years.  It's easier to just to say, would you like to see a subdivision?  

Chick: My thought was, you know, if you had a subdivision, I live in a subdivision; it's 44 houses.  So we've got subdivisions that are - no I'm just saying - people don't understand.  They might know I see a subdivision of 44 houses and what that looks like and how many people are there or you see a subdivision of like 800 houses and what that looks like and how many people are there, so to me it's like more not that we could put visuals in there but if you ask somebody if you want to see a subdivision how many homes would you like to see.

Otto: So I just this weekend, for the first time I've seen a subdivision, a subdivision with 2 to 5 acre parcels.  And it was an actual subdivision. 

[Engstrom: Oh, they exist.] 

Otto: Yeah, I know they do. 

[Engstrom: but] 

Otto:I was very surprised to see them. 

[Engstrom: How old were they and where was it?] 

Otto: Um, it's up by Northville.  Northville area. 

[Engstrom: It was an older development, correct? Yes.] 

Otto: Well, no, not older.  No, it was rather new.   I would say probably not more than ten years old. 

[Engstrom: On 2 to 5 acres.  Which one are you talking about?] 

Otto: It's off of Seven Mile. 

[Engstrom: Maybury Crossing?] 

Otto: Right by Maybury area... I don't know it was... I was out at the orchard out there...  

Engstrom: No, those are all, they're not

Dockett: People all know what a quarter acre is

Engstrom: You said 2 to 5 acres?

Otto: Yeah

Engstrom: Those were developed and bought long before land values

Otto: They still have the development sign out there so that's why I knew that it was 2 to 5 acres.

Engstrom: Um.  I'm sorry, you...

Dockett: You said people didn't know what a quarter acre was.

Engstrom: Right, quarter acre, thank you.  [laughs]  But you'll maybe, you'll break it down a little bit, you know, just or, you know we only have a few subdivisions in the, in this township, so, you know

Chick: That was the planning commission's thought was to simplify it so that people actually could answer the question and understand what you're asking them

Engstrom: Right. Just on my other comment was... I watched on uh the Planning Commission meeting I was really disappointed with the Planner's presentation.  Um, did she come up with that on her own or did she, was she asked for...

Chick: She was not asked.  She decided that was what she wanted to look at.  She did a comparison of the two and came to her own conclusions based on her evaluation of what she was looking at.  But like I said there were some things missed and uh...
Engstrom: Yeah.  You know, for being new, I don't think she has all the, all the facts and data and thoughts of what
Dockett: Kinda pushy
Engstrom: You said it; thank you Wayne.  [laughs]

Motion to adjourn