The Debt that Dreams are made of680w523h


Partial Transcript of Northfield Township's Board meeting January 27, 2015

The first meeting this evening, and the first approximately fifteen minutes of video, was a discussion with the township attorney about the public safety millage issue.  This meeting ended a bit after 7 P.M..  The regular meeting, partially transcribed here, began about 7:05 P.M..  This is the link to the Livestream video.

Technical note:

Some of the following transcription came from watching and rewatching the meeting directly on livestream, noting the time when speakers or meeting foci changed.  Livestream timestamps are parenthesized (hr:min:sec) and relative to the 1st second of online livestreamed video.

This was a glacial process, and tedious, so we downloaded the video into a video editor, which used a longer format timestamp {hr:min:sec:frame}  The first two minutes of the video, from the 15 minute special meeting immediately preceding the 7PM meeting, got scrunched.  This is why the two timestamps, livestream and video editor format, don't align.  They're off by two minutes.  

So, to watch segments of this on Livestream, where necessary convert the long format to livestream time by adding about two minutes. That will put you in the ballpark.

Also, in the long timestamps, you can ignore the frame counter.

The Regular Board of Trustees Meeting, about 7:05 P.M.

        (15:16) (livestream time, remember?)
        [1st Call to the Public]

        (15:51)    00:13:10:00
Hi, my name is Sandy Klump, [AddressDeleted] Whitmore Lake Northfield Township

At last week's planning commission meeting, a member of the northfield neighbors stood up and cited the 1998 community survey and said that nothing essentially had changed since then.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Approximately ten to fifteen years ago the stagnation of Northfield Township began, thanks in large part to this small group of people, who by their own admission do not identify with Northfield Township, do not use our services, and do not for the most part send their children to our schools.  Back then, they helped scuttle three major developments that would have tremendously contributed to the wealth and well being of our community and our schools.  At that meeting (what meeting??) it was stated that nothing has changed but since then we have seen many of our local businesses forced to close, our schools struggle to survive because of declining enrollment, while the communities surrounding us continue to thrive.  Clearly, their no growth stance has helped to get us to this point and has afforded no benefits to our community as a whole.  Plenty has changed since 1998.  I believe the time has come to get back on track.  Since 2000 our needs have changed; our demographics have changed; our vision of what we want our community to be has changed.  In the 2012 community survey, which conveniently was not cited at the planning commission meeting, the majority of residents, the majority of respondents, I'm sorry,  indicated that they favored parcels in size ranging from smaller subdivision parcels to two acre lots.  The least popular response was the five acre minimum requirement.  When asked what their desired actions were for this township to take, number two or number three were redevelop vacant land, and commercial development in this township.  When asked what areas they would like to study for future development, the most cited one was the corridor at U.S. 23 and North Territorial.  At the planning commission meeting, it showed that this vision has changed.  This survey shows that our vision has changed.  Finally there are new opportunities for responsible growth being presented to us for the first time in many, many years.  I am asking this board of trustees to have the courage to direct the planning commission to revisit the master plan and to stand up to this small group of people who are again attempting to steer this community.  Please do your part so that history does not repeat itself.  Thank you.

        (19:38) 00:16:56:13  
Ed Wojtys, [AddressDeleted]

I'm not sure where you live, but I don't think Northfield Township is stagnant.  I still think it's a beautiful place to live and it offers a diversity of settings for living that most communities in our area don't have.  I would question the validity of the 2012 survey.  In order for it to be valid you have to have to have a certain percentage of participants and people need to know about that.  If you want to quote that survey, I would appreciate you exposing those numbers and I think you'll see why that doesn't reflect the majority of people in this township.  

When the most current development was proposed we presented a petition that was signed by essentially every single neighbor to the parcels involved.  Every single neighbor was opposed to it.  We were at the polls this November during the election.  No, not everybody voted but I can tell you the people who did were overwhelmingly against developing the farmland

Northfield Neighbors is not against growth. We want growth but we want growth around the lake, in the village, in at the major intersections, not in the middle of the farm country where you have no services, no roads, where expansion would be pretty expensive for everybody involved, plus would destroy those features that make our township special.  

So, I know there's been a lot of back and forth on this, and I would really appreciate insight from the board, from the planning commission... What is your objective evidence, other than a faulty survey (21:25) as to why this should be done.  On the same hand, if you can tell us what we need to do to convince you that the majority of people, especially in the southwest corner of the township don't want to see this, we would gladly appreciate the information.  

We don't want to see Northfield Township stagnate and we don't think it is.  We do think there's room for development.  We're not anti growth.  But we ask you to follow the master plan.  The master plan did have input from the majority of the people in this township as opposed to that 2012 survey and it does reflect the feelings of most of the people in the township.  (22:06)  So, unless you have some reason to change, we would like to see that followed.  

Lastly, I voted for several of you guys sitting here at this table.  I don't remember anybody, in their campaign literature, talking about developing the farmland in our township.  Maybe I missed it but that certainly wasn't there.  So if we have a personal agenda, if there's something being based on other than what the public wants, I think it's time this was exposed.  Thank you.  

        (22:47) 00:20:00:12
Hello, Kelly Klump, [AddressDeleted] Whitmore Lake

I just had a couple comments to make.  One is I think this tactic of using different evidence depending upon the point that one wants to make is very very common tactic by the Northfield Neighbors.  It actually isn't quite scientific to say that one survey is biased because of response rates but no to cite your own response rates from 1998.  I'd also like to not that actually when we spoke that things have changed apparently the Northfield Neighbors stance has changed as well.  There are sites located online very easily available in which members have talked about the, actually the neighbors. In 2009 an article in the Ann Arbor Chronicle, December 15th, 2009, it says that there should be growth at no cost and that's why the group I helped to form, which I was part of during my four years on the board, decided in our infancy to stop development at all costs.  Hell, we even stopped a major development from starting by getting a referendum placed on the ballot and getting it passed.  Though I can't take all the credit for it, our position was brilliant in that we convinced the people that if the door is propped open the horses will charge on through and there will be no stopping things.  This is a quote which I'm happy to share with you.  But hey, we did leave a little bit of a mess for the current board to try and get through.  All in the plan.  This is a quote, online, from a Northfield Neighbor.  And I, I won't read it all; it's quite lengthy.  The end is, and in closing, I have real disdain for the current Northfield Township board.  Not only have they succeeded in strengthening the township finances, A-minus bond ratings, which we were never able to do, but they are actually encouraging development to occur, which I and those of like minded tried desperately to keep out.  This is 2009.  I understand that your views may have changed, that now you think smart growth is a good thing.  But other people have changed too.  This township has changed.  It's time for growth.  It's time to stop the tactics of using different evidence for different data and trying to fool the residents of this township.  Thank you.

David Gordon [AddressDeleted]

It's unfortunate that the last speaker is referring to something that was online, that was distributed by our Supervisor, that apparently appears as if I wrote it.  I did not write it.  It appeared as a comment to some online newspaper called the Ann Arbor Chronicle.  It was a comment that was posted thirty days after the article came in.  We weren't in office anymore.  I did not write the article.  There's no requirement at the AAC which is now defunct to actually identify yourself so that they know that you're actually the person writing the document.  The quote that was just made was actually written in an attempt to discredit me.  And I would very much like the Supervisor to apoligize for having distributed that because there's no evidence whatsoever that I wrote that document.

Secondly, that's really not what I wanted to comment on.  Our position has never changed.  We've always been in favor of smart growth in the areas that have infrastructure in our community.  We have been opposed to extending sewers into rural areas that would reduce the quality of life in the farming area.  Promoting farming and open space has always been a  goal of this community.  From the 1996 survey and also in the 2012 survey.  Every survey shows that nobody in this community is particularly in favor of growth at the cost of quality of life.  

I moved here thirty years ago.  I built my home here twenty-five years ago.  I've paid a lot of taxes in this community over the last twenty-five years.  I've spent the majority of my adult life here.  I am heavily invested in this community.  I think it would be great if we had growth in the areas that are designed for it, and, I would be very upset to see sprawl extended to rural areas in our community which have as much value as anything else.  Thank you very much.

Brad Tanner [AddressDeleted]
Yes, I'm in the southwest corner of the township.  Ladies and gentlemen of the board, forty-eight years ago, forty-eight years, that's how long I've lived in this township.  I've been a taxpayer for twenty-five of them.  When I started my house search, I looked all over.  That was when I realized that I liked what Northfield township had to offer, so I chose to stay here.  Talking with all my neighbors it was made clear to me at that time, I won't be the last house built.  Expect growth.  I was ok with that and I still am today.  I'm a Nollar road resident.  Potential growth is in my neighborhood and we need it.  The master plan as it was laid out only a few years back only served a few and not the majority of the township.  If you were building a house and all the walls were in place then you realized a certain room was not big enough what would you do?  I personally would look at making the changes necessary to make it work better.  That's what you're being asked to do. Nothing more. Look at the master plan and make the changes that will make more sense to the majority, not the vocal minority.  A developer a few years ago approached this township about a subdivision.  While I was not sure about the amount of homes that were first proposed I saw it as a shot in the arm for many branches of our local government but because of a group of self centered special interest neighbors with the mentality they wanted to be the last house built we spent many years many tax dollars defending our name, only to lose.  While these neighbors may see it as a win, I think I speak for a large group that think we lost.  The fact that these folks were voted out of office I think proves the point.  We lost a large tax base.  More local businesses and we are left with a crippled school district that has suffered due to declining enrollment.  Their no growth policy sure didn't help matters any either.  We also lost an opportunity for a redesigned bridge at North Territorial.  You've had many local farmers that have told you that the ground is marginal for farming.  This must be true because there are many acres that were once farm in the proposed development that now sit idle.  While sitting idle they've become overgrown with invasive shrubs.  There are fields that are full of them and it's only and it's also [sic] in many people's five acre lots.  The zoning that [sic] in place right now is for five acre minimum.  This proved many people can't maintain or even want five acres.  A while back Ann Arbor Township sat here and told you that there should be no growth.  You drive down Nixon road right now there's a subdivision going in.  So they come here and they preach no growth, then they have growth going there.  Seems kinda weird to me.  Al(unintelligible) the proposed development may not bring the many needed kids to our public school we will more than likely get some through the school of choice, which would be a big boost for our small district.  For those that think otherwise, we currently get a good portion of our students from neighboring districts, including Ann Arbor. Therefor this development would help.  It would also show other developers that maybe Northfield Township is somewhere they should investigate.  Thank you for your time.

Cecilia Infante [AddressDeleted]
I appreciate the arguments that I'm hearing on both sides.  I feel like I'm sitting at a wedding where nobody wanted anybody to get married and this is super problematic because I think we actually all agree that we need smart growth and I think the problem is what we mean by smart... There's got to be a way to get rid of all these petty politics and actually talk about what's good and beneficial for the township and for Whitmore Lake.  Wade, who used to own the Ace Hardware store down here... I still go out to his store which is out in Pinckney now - and he fled because of the Meijer threat.  I mean, it's so complex; you can't just say growth no growth growth no growth... that somehow extending sewers is going to bring students... I mean, it's so complex.  Can we just talk about the issues and get rid of the politics.  If it were possible to say "Zip it" every time someone says "Northfield Neighbors this"  "Anti growth"  It's not productive. I don't know what you can do about it and obviously you have to filter through and listen to all of us but I really feel strongly that we need growth and we have an amazing potential to be a really modern and forward looking community that will offer all of us what we want who live here and also what will perhaps attract others here, especially commercial businesses again.  I was just at our Library; I love our Library.  We are special.  We need to continue to be special and not kind of battle each other out and leave a wasteland.  So I hope we're a little more thoughtful and considerate of each other.  Thank you.

Hi there my name is John Meadows.  I live at [AddressDeleted]
I've lived here my whole life... I'm raising kids here in the school district.  I graduated from Michigan State with a degree in Agricultural Economics.  I own a farm in Webster Township.  I work in agribusiness every day with farmers.  I understand the value of land.  But I also understand and I'm here to say to the board and the planning commission this community has to embrace growth.  We can no longer be steered by the anti-growth agenda of the Northfield Neighbors.  The Northfield Neighbors and their selfish policies can no longer be catered to.  We have a school district that would be in better shape today if these Northfield Neighbors were not defended(??) the Leland Farm development and the Meijer's development.  This anti growth agenda has gone on too long.  I sat in this room three months ago or two months ago and listened to farmers and land owners in this community say they wanted development to happen.  You're kdding yourselves if you believe this area will stay agricultural forever.  If the neighbors don't want anything to happen next to them, then go ahead and buy the land.  It's unfair to force their views on this community the way they have.  Thanks.

Hi, my name is Laura Wojtys and I reside at [AddressDeleted]  I'm currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan studying public policy.  And I guess my question to you, what I'm a little bit confused about is what your role is because I understand it to be that you are here to implement solutions that benefit the township and benefit the society and also to protect us.  And if you implement this development it is not only going against everything that the community has said that they do not want, everything that is in the master plan, that we do not want, but it opens us up for future liability.  If we say yes to this development, what's to say that other developers are not going to come in and say, "oh, well you made adjustments for this without changing your master plan," and, all that being said, we are not anti-development.  The last thing we are is anti-growth for this community.  There are so many areas in this community that would serve for development, but not when it goes against what the community has said for this particular parcel.  It is zoned for five acre lots and you want to do quarter acre lots? That's what this developer wants to do.  That completely goes against everything you want and it also goes against stuff that our partners in Ann Arbor want.  What do you think this is going to do with our relationship with them if we say, Oh yeah, we're going to let it develop [unintelligible]?"  This is completely going to ruin our relationship.  So this, especially as a public policy student, and understanding the importance of policy, and why we put issues and documents into effect, like the master plan, is that so they serve a purpose.  Without that, they mean absolutely nothing.  If you don't think what is in our master plan is accurate, that's fine.  Go through the process to amend it.  But if not, we definitely need to go through the proper procedures and I just ask you to remember what your role is and who your constituents are and who you're serving.  Thank you.

Carolyn Adamyn [AddressDeleted]  I would like to address the board about the future of our community.  I am a resident here, teacher here, my kids go to school here.  I hope none of you are influenced by the small group of bullies that do not care about this community.  Northfield Township is a diamond in the rough.  Right now we have an opportunity to flourish and prosper as a community, school district, and with business opportunities.  If we do get this growth along the 23 corridor, two thirds of our township will still be agriculture.  We should not let a small group of people who are not invested in this community drive this whole process.  We made that mistake in the past and look where it has gotten us, a stagnant community and schools in danger of closing.  Obviously the vision of Northfield Neighbors is not the vision of the majority of this community as evidenced by the fact that they were soundly voted out of office.  I would also like to add that this topic is very important to many community members and just because we're not here every single meeting does not mean that we do not care.  Umm, we did vote for you then because we do trust you to make decisions that would be right for our community.  Thank you.

Good evening; my name is Robin Wojtys.  I live at [AddressDeleted]  And I hope I don't look like a monster. I guess you could say I'm associated with Northfield Neighbors.  There has been a lot of, I don't know if you want to call it good old fashioned mudslinging going around here, a lot of name calling... It's almost embarrassing that people do that.   My heart was beating so fast back there listening.  I do live out in the country but I do shop at Pollys, not every week, but occasionally.  I go to the library.  I get my car washed there.  For people to accuse me of never even using the services... I kind of find that almost hilarious.  They don't know me.  My point is we have a Master Plan for a reason.  Somebody said something about businesses closing.  They want to blame all of that on Northfield Neighbors?  Wow!  Northfield Neighbors must be a real powerful group of people.  If anybody has paid attention to what our country has gone through in the last ten years or so, what the economy's been like, I think maybe they'll find a little bit of an answer there.  We do have a master plan.  We do have reasonable growth that we want to see in our community.  And please, I just ask of you to look at that seriously.  Let us have some growth, smart growth as somebody else put it.  Thank you.

Hi, My name's Eric Reed ???  I live at [AddressDeleted]
I've lived on Helner Road for the last 23 years... I come to this meeting as a concerned citizen in regards to the growth, or I should say, the lack of growth in this town, an issue we are again facing in this township.  As I look around us not only in this room but in the surrounding areas, it always seems that our township is stuck in the pastj and being left behind in many areas.  I see other school districts growing while we see ours declining.  I see family ??? neighborhoods growing while ours are moving out.  I see our graduates looking for work, but in other areas.  I see our taxes going up but nothing to show for them.  I see our roads falling apart but no money to fix them.   I hear that we'll be losing all of our open area and from what I am seeing, just on my road, there is very little growth that can happen.  Just across from me we have seventy-five acres in the Green Belt, not to mention other very large parcels in a very short distance.  We have large sections that are landlocked and cannot even be built on.  We have landowners that are not inclined to have their, to have building on their property and that is all great, for them.  A few years ago we were given the opportunity to have some growth here but at the time we were sold a bill of goods that did not go that way ???  As we have seen in the past our master plan has been changed to halt this growth. Now we have the opportunity to have some responsible growth again and again we are seeing a few trying to make the decisions for the majority.  [How right you are]  We would like not to see this happen the township [sic] see this township fail but make it stronger.  They announced here that the Master Plan will not allow this but my question is if it can be changed to meet one's group [sic] desire why should it not be able to be flexible to allow others the same consideration.  I believe we can have it both ways.  It does not have to be one or the other.  And I'm sorry but a Tractor Supply does not a township make.  We appreciate them coming here and we support them but they cannot support all of our needs.  We need families and businesses to make this a thriving community and we need this township to grow to make it happen.  Thank you.

Kelly Klump [AddressDeleted]  [attempts to walk back assertions about Chronicle letter]
I do want to clarify that I did not get this [refers to Chronicle letter/comment] from Marilyn.  I did... it... I think... you did say it was distributed... this is an online resource many of us since this issue came up this summer have been doing a lot of... of data gathering, looking at Northfield Neighbor sites, looking online, trying to see kind of what the situation is and this was one of the sites that popped up real quick.  And I would say that if this is something that was falsified, it is something that should probably be brought down... because it is something online and easily accessible for people who are looking for information on this issue.  Thank you.

Jim Nelson [AddressDeleted] I looked at the, a while ago, Northfield Neighbors did a FOIA request on the township where we found evidence that the letter mentioned by the previous speaker, twice, had been distributed by the supervisor to a large number of people, apparently without any attempt to verify... reality.  I looked at the letter, I found it online, it was difficult because it's not under David Gordon's name.  You'd have to be looking for a David G.  It makes no sense that anybody would be even searching for it unless they knew it was there.  It's an obvious parody.  It's riddled with grammatical errors, with constructs that don't even exist in the English language.  It's obviously written by an [stutter] uneducated person.  And, and, and uh, I've known David Gordon a long time.  He was a newspaper reporter for ten years, a professional writer.  He wouldn't have come up with that piece of garbage.  And you guys have been, and that's your fault, Ms. Engstrom... You propagated that, you gave it credence, and you put your name on it.  It's wrong.  It's an obvious parody.  Just read it - it makes no sense.  It makes no sense as a policy statement or as a defense of a policy.   It's funny, it's actually funny; it reads like something you'd read in the Onion.  I'm disappointed that so many people believe it or took it at face value, because I laughed when I read it.  [shakes head] I'm disappointed.

        [empty mic]

        [Board Member Comments:]

Wayne Dockett
I've got a couple of board member comments.  I don't want to take anything away from Northfield Neighbors.  I don't want to take anything away from them.  ah. so. but. If we don't get residential, we're not going to get commercial. So I mean is this... to me, I've been here for seventy years.  We've gotta have residential.  Now, where would we put it?  Old 23 or Whitmore Lake Road is the only north-south paved road in the township.  It's gotta be there.  And I don't see where it's gonna hurt the Northfield Neighbors any; we're not taking anything away from them.  That's my comments; thanks.

Marilyn Engstrom: As to the online post I want to correct Mr. Gordon I did not distribute that nor write it and I'm appalled that you that either you or Mr Nelson would even think that I would.  I would like an apology from you.  um.  As one of our speakers had said
we are a special place and you're absolutely right.  This is a big decision and it should be looked at with very special care.  um.  Once again, the master document is a living document.  It can be and is encouraged to be changed.  It is not set in stone.  That's all I have for now.  Thank you.  Anyone else on board member comments?  All right.  We will go on to correspondance and announcements. Howard do you have anything?

Howard Fink: Uh, yeah, real quick

Wayne Dockett: Howard, you're never quick

Howard Fink: ... We're moving forward with the TDBG ? project, the sidewalk project that roughly goes from Northfield Township Hall to the Middle School.  Discussion of Urban county grants... community development block grants... County will be the primary contractor... More info in February meetings.  That's it for the construction project.. or the sidewalk project (49:30:24)  I do want you to know that I did fail today My grant proposal failed at the Urban County Executive meeting I was trying to get a number of thousands of dollars to build a community garden and I was not successful today but I do plan on uh going back to the urban county consortium and working with uh ad working with project hope out of Ypsilanti and seeing if we can broaden the project a little bit, make it a little more regionally significant so it's not just a location in Northfield Township but there might actually be some other gardens in neighborhoods that would serve some low income folks and maybe that would be a better project the consortium could uh could accept and fund in the next year so uh you know uh I was disappointed that we didn't get the four thousand dollars that we asked for but we'll revise and try it again for next year.

Fink: Other than that, I think tonight's meeting uh all the things

Wayne Dockett: I have some questions on this when

Fink: All the things on tonight's meeting, the prioritization of road projects, the boardroom construction, umm, and even the, well those are the two projects that I have on the agenda.  I can't speak for Tammy but I feel like this, that the biggest part of the conversation should be about the topic of growth and the master plan and all the issues that all the folks in the audience have brought up, so if any, if we don't get to those other items, I'm ok with that.  I just wanted to let everybody know that really this is the critical thing that we need to be discussing.

Marilyn Engstrom: Thank you.  Wayne, you said you had something?

Wayne Dockett: Yeah, I hate to get things ... the sixty-six thousand dollars, that's gonna do the project, that's how much money we've got?  But there's no engineering,

Tammy (Senior Center/Community Center) Discussion of grant

Engstom: Agenda Item: Planning Commission Visioning by the board

Chick: I just want to make a couple of comments before we actually start

Wayne Docket: When I look at this first map here, the big one, we have a lot of white in there which is, needs to be filled up with something so all that that's white is farmland, supposedly, so, that is our problem.  We got way, way, way too much farmland and not enough business going on to support the township...  So I will just say the same thing I said before, without residential there won't be any commercial.  I don't see how there could be.  So we absolutely need it.


Kathy Braun: "I'm not anti growth; I'm anti debt."


        [2nd call to public]

Chuck Stoll [AddressDeleted] informs the board of the reasons Six mile road can not be paved and used in conjunction with a cheaply paved Nollar Road north to 7 mile as a cheap way of bypassing  East Shore Drive, since the 7 mile road extension was never and apparently will never be built.

Patrick Kelly [AddressDeleted]. discusses six supervisors worth of history of 7 mi rd, the 7 mi road bridge that was never built, washtenaw county road department treachery, advice on construction management

David Gordon [AddressDeleted]
re bait and switch tactics

John Meadows [AddressDeleted]

Terry Webb, [AddressDeleted]

Board Member Comments

Wayne Dockett re sewers

Howard discussing Horseshoe Lake Sewer Refunds

Janet Chick claims that Master Plan was constructed as a function of the economy. ???

Howard: December 1st, 2014 is cutoff date for owning Horseshoe Lake sewer district property to receive the refund

        [The End]