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Attorney Says Blossom Ridge Referendum is Invalid

A special meeting has been called for Monday, Dec. 3.

An attorney representing a group of Oakland Township residents has found a procedural flaw in the rezoning approved for the controversial Blossom Ridge senior-housing development. In a letter to the township, he said both the rezoning and the subsequent petition drive to overturn it are invalid.

The township’s new board of trustees, meeting for the first time Tuesday, went into closed session to hear Township Attorney Steven Joppich’s opinion on the letter. Apparently the two opinions differ, because after the hour-long closed session the board returned to open session and voted to hire a third attorney to give it yet another opinion.

The residents’ attorney, Gregory Need, said an Oakland County zoning committee never received notice of the proposed rezoning as is required by state law because the land in question, at Adams and Dutton, borders another community (Rochester Hills). He cited case law to argue that the situation cannot be remedied after the fact.

“It is my opinion that failure to take that required step voids the prior rezoning approval,” Need wrote. “It would then lead to the conclusion that, obviously, the referendum petitions circulated are of no force and effect because the zoning ordinance amendment on which they were based was never legally adopted. No vote should be held based on those petitions. If the township board again approves the rezoning, then petitions could be circulated as to that approval.”

Blossom Ridge developer Dominic Moceri was in attendance at the meeting and learned the news along with the rest of the audience. He said he was surprised and asked to hear Joppich’s opinion. His request was declined, as the opinion is considered privileged information.

The board invited Moceri to weigh in on the matter, but he said he needed to talk to his attorney before doing so. The board scheduled a special meeting for Monday, Dec. 3 for further discussion.

Robin Buxar, who led the referendum petition drive and is among the residents represented by Need, said the procedural problem was “a fluke discovery.”

“Whatever way it goes, it goes,” she said. “What can you do?”

Supervisor Terry Gonser, chairing his first meeting in his new job, said the board is in an awkward position.

“I think because of the complexity of the issue, we don’t feel comfortable with the options we have so far,” he said. “We would like to have another opinion that is at arms’ length from the two opinions we have so far.”

Trustee Michael Bailey said most of the board just learned of Need’s letter on Monday. “So it’s news to most of us, very new news.”

The board had been scheduled to vote on ballot language so the referendum could appear on the February ballot. The deadline for doing so is Dec. 4.

Daryl Patrishkoff December 01, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Beth, I agree that privacy is necessary in some special circumstances and see your point about someone who might work at the Township, or own a local business. But I see many comments on the Patch from people hiding behind false names spew the worst insults and push hidden agendas the most with false facts. If they are hiding behind a false name they should still have an adult conversation. As I openly stated I am not an Oakland Township citizen and have no place in participating in the Township meetings. I am a potential future Oakland Township citizen and will become active once I have that right. My comment was just about the demonizing of Moceri when I see the great product they have built in the area.
Acorn Twp. December 01, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Daryl, Beth is right we do have to hide, or there would be intimidation on us. Those of us who live in Oakland Township have been living in a dictatorship. People who have never attended a BOT meeting before, were yelled at before they could even get their thoughts out of their mouths. We voted for a new board so we wouldn't have to be tricked, demeaned and demoralized any longer. The meetings were probably never video recorded so people didn't know what was going on. Can you imagine the surprised look on a citizen's face, attending their first meeting, when they would make a comment and would be told to go sit down before they had politely said a few words? Decisions were made without thought or study by 3 of the voted out board members. And rudeness was always on the agenda. It may be false facts that you are hearing.
Marty Rosalik December 01, 2012 at 04:21 AM
No need to hide. That is your choice. I have attended more RCS school board meetings and Oakland Township meetings than I can remember. I have no problem speaking my mind with passion. I have heard the allegations that “they” will do something to you if you are outspoken and disagree with them. Well… nothing so far to me in over 14 years of public engagement. There are things I like and many I do not like about both. At RCS meetings anyone from the public can make a comment just prior to the main business of the night or just before a vote on a agenda item at hand. However by the rules of that room you make your address a maximum 3 minute monolog. The board will sit there like Mt. Rushmore. There will rarely if ever be any immediate dialog. Say your peace and sit down. Now Oakland Township meetings are different. Typically NO public comment is accepted or even tolerated regarding any item on the given night’s agenda. No last minute plea to get anyone’s ear. So if the room is packed regarding a radio tower, unpopular zoning change, or a dam removal… you just sit and watch that night. If you do get a chance to speak, when their rules allow, you might get a dialog or some response. I have always had the Rushmore or maximum condescension response from the township. We will see how the new board responds and if they are amenable to accepting public comments during agenda item discussion or at least prior to any final vote.
Daryl Patrishkoff December 01, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Acorn Twp. What has happen in Oakland Township is called democracy; you believe a new trustworthy BOT has been voted in. So I ask the question, why do you need to hide behind a false name? I see the Patch as a cyber “Water cooler” and people come together and have a discussion about topics that interest them. In the old traditional workplace people gathered around the water cooler and a discussion took place. Everyone knew each person who was talking and many times personal things about them. This added to the discussion and gave insight to that person’s personal perspective; it was a healthy conversation most of the times. I have been posting and commenting on the Patch for some time now and have several observations. I work out of my home a good percentage of the time and find this a way to socially interact on subjects I am interested in. Consistently I see many of the false name people spew the worst insults and push a hidden agenda with false facts. I believe in this cyber world we still need to show respect and have an adult conversation. Sorry for deviating from the post’s original subject, but it morphed into this subject. Back to the posting, I think Moceri is a high quality builder and would do a great job on this project. As a son of aging parents I believe such a facility is needed, let the discussion continue.
Paul December 01, 2012 at 09:47 PM
The prayer at the meeting was completely ridiculous. Government meeting not church.

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