by David Gordon            [2-26-2016]

Biltmore is Back!  In fact, they never left.
My apologies for this long op-ed.
Only two months ago our township manager assured us that the 1,475-rooftop Biltmore development was dead, but last week the Planning Commission resurrected the scheme.   You can watch the conversation here:

Or read my version of events.  

After seizing control as the Planning Commission Chair last month, Ken Dignan is breathing new life into the Biltmore strategy to convert the largest collection of farmland in our township into the biggest subdivision ever proposed here.
He drafted a letter to Biltmore four months ago inviting them to come back with a proposal that somehow could fit our Master Plan, and after much debate, the Planning Commission voted to send the letter. 
We are now told that the letter was meaningless never got mailed.  We weren't told this until Febrary 17th.  Remarkably, not one member of the PC asked "why".

How is it possible that Dignan's letter had so little meaning?

At the February 23rd Board Workshop, Howard Fink corrected us about the letter.  He said that the letter was sent.  But it was meaningless.  It was not a properly "Formal" response. 

Why didn't Fink mention that on October 21, 2015 when the Dignan letter was proposed, discussed, and acted on?  Fink tells us he's an expert.  As an expert he should have told the PC that their proposed letter was meaningless.  It's not as if the Township Manager is reticent with his opinions; he jumps into every discussion he can.

To me, knowingly sending a B/S response letter is the same as not sending a real response.

My suspicion is that it was a subterfuge designed to lull residents and sidestep their objections. 

Under Fink's direction as manager, our planner of more than 10 years quit, and then the replacement planner quit. Irresponsibly, the Board of Trustees entrusted Fink to hire yet another planner, our third in four months.  

So we've got a new Planning Commission Chair, a new, presumably compliant planner and voila, Biltmore is back on the table.  
PC Chair Dignan, by the way, is also Whitmore Lake School Board president.  He is serving two masters and the Master Plan's goal of protecting our rural areas will quickly be paved over with subdivisions to satisfy the School Board's desire to increase enrollment and pay off their massive $55M school system debt.  Dignan's feigned impartiality is already quite transparent.   
My friends, we're off to the races again, wasting tens of thousands more taxpayer dollars to do more studies and pay for more reports until one of them finally recommends replacing our farmland and open space with subdivisions and strip malls. 
What are we going to do about it?  Are we going to allow the folks who decided to spend $1 Million for a gold-leafed ladder truck, $8M for a public safety building and $36M for a new high school trash our backyards?  
Their scheme will need a $20-30M sewer treatment plant expansion, and these "leaders" are crazy enough to do it.  After all, it's our tax money they're spending.  
Let's stop this madness. We need new people serving in leadership roles to stop this small group of anti-farming, pro-suburbia nuts from high jacking our community. 
The next PC meeting is March 2.  Will you be there and speak your mind?
We've been told the township is "obligated to respond" whenever a developer comes through the door.  But we are NOT obligated to change our vision to fit theirs or to spend tens of thousands on studies just because they ask for it.  
A simple "no" is sufficient. "No, your request doesn't match our zoning or Master Plan."  Move on. 
Please step up and let these folks know you're "mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore!"
Keep the Faith.  You can count on your neighbors.
- David Gordon