by David Gordon


The Board of Trustees on Dec. 13th, at its first meeting since the election, unanimously created a five-member “Farmland & Natural Areas Preservation Committee” in an effort to best preserve our outstanding quality of life in Northfield Township.

Protecting the rural quality of life is a high priority among all residents and was clearly identified in 1996, when the first and only scientific survey was conducted in Northfield Township. The importance of preservation was supported by a subsequent Northfield Township Community survey in 2010.

Historically, this is the first Board that has ever taken the necessary first steps to preserve farmland, open space and natural areas, while it also simultaneously fulfills campaign promises made this year by the majority of the elected officials.

Supervisor Marlene Chockley (R) invited residents to send a letter of interest ASAP, if they wish to serve. Appointments may be made at the Board’s Jan. 10th meeting.

Interested parties can apply by emailing Chockley (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or writing to her at Northfield Township Hall, 8350 Main St., Whitmore Lake, MI 48189.

The action-packed, two-page agenda kept the Board working well beyond it usual 10pm cutoff, so there was little time to discuss details such as the committee’s specific goals or timetable. It is hoped these will be discussed at the next meeting and that it is nearer the top of the agenda.

Feeling Welcome and Respected

Several residents reported they felt much more welcome than under the previous administration. One noticeable change from the last administration is that Chockey and several other trustees responded to residents’ questions during the Call to the Public, and were generally more friendly, respectful and receptive.   


Special “Retreat” Jan. 7 – Goals for the new Board

The Board will hold a special “Retreat” on Saturday, Jan. 7, to discuss goals for their terms of office. It will run from 10am-4pm at township hall and the public is invited. The next regular Board meeting will be Jan. 10.


US23 Project Timetable & Details

The Michigan DOT presented their updated plans and timetable for the $92 million “Active Traffic Management” project underway on US23.

Lanes and entrance/exit ramps will be closed and traffic will be rerouted in several complex operations during construction with the hopes of reducing congestion. DOT hopes, weather permitting, to be done by the end of 2017.



Manager Howard Fink Resigns

Township Manager Howard Fink resigned effective Jan. 5. He will be taking a job in Park Township, just north of Holland, MI with a base salary of $101,000, about $20,000 more than his current pay. Fink said he and his family have wanted to live in west Michigan for a long time.  This is Howard Fink's December 9, 2016 Letter of Resignation from his position as Northfield Township Manager.

Several members of the public and most Board members thanked Fink for his service.

Because Fink is leaving so quickly, the Board requested he provide a transition plan, in writing. It is hoped he also will provide task-specific manuals and/or procedures that he should have created as a professional administrator during his four-year tenure.

Trustee Jacki Otto moved that the Board begin the process of hiring a new manager, but instead, the Board agreed to consider hiring an interim manager. Treasurer Lenore Zelenock and Trustee Tawn Beliger suggested that before hiring a full-time manager, a cost/benefit analysis should be done.  

“We need to reach out to the residents and ask them what they think” about this large expense, said Zelenock.

Another idea was to hire an office manager or task-specific consultants. In addition, the Board was asked to refine exactly what was expected of a manager, and to evaluate whether the township really needs one.

Former Trustee David Gordon stated that, according to the Michigan Township Association, less than 4% of Michigan townships hire a full-time manager. “There are two reasons only 1 in 25 townships have a manager,” he said. “Most townships don’t need one, and they’re very, very expensive.”


New Hire

A new employee, Tabitha Isenbarg, was hired to handle the front desk duties. Although Fink spoke at length about how important job is, the Board voted to hire Isenbarg at $15.5-0/hr. for only 30 hours/week to avoid paying her benefits or providing vacation time.


Other Board Action:

  • Trustee Janet Chick was reappointed liaison to the Planning Commission.
  • Otto was reappointed liaison to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
  • Beliger was appointed liaison to the Parks & Rec Board.
  • The Board’s 2017 meeting schedule was approved (although not yet posted to the township website)

Meeting Documents: