After its second closed meeting in as many weeks, the Oakland Township Board of Trustees voted at a special meeting Monday to seek a fourth legal opinion regarding a rezoning granted for the proposed Blossom Ridge senior housing development.
The board will also seek an opinion from the Michigan Attorney General and is now hoping to put the referendum on the rezoning on the May ballot, not February as originally intended.
“I think it is incumbent upon us to do as much due diligence as we can to represent the citizens and do it right,” said supervisor Terry Gonser. “It’s unfortunate in my mind that we can’t go forward on Feb. 26. … I’ve always felt it was better to be right than fast.”
Last week, the newly elected board received a letter from attorney Gregory Need, who said the township had skipped a required step in the rezoning process. Need was hired by several residents, one of whom filed the referendum petition.
Because the Blossom Ridge site at Dutton and Adams borders Rochester Hills, the township was required to notify an Oakland County committee of the planned rezoning so that the bordering community could weigh in. Because that didn’t happen, Need wrote, the rezoning is invalid and the referendum cannot go forward.
Edward Kickham, attorney for developer Dominic Moceri, reminded the board that he wasn’t allowed to see Township Attorney Steven Joppich’s opinion on the matter. But, he said, “If it is the decision of the board (that) Blossom Ridge is rescinded, it would be a case of selective enforcement because it’s not something the township has done in the past.”
Moceri argued that the township has not submitted other border developments to the county, including Country Creek, a PUD with commercial development that borders Orion Township. He also noted that Deputy County Executive Matt Gibb spoke in support of Blossom Ridge at a 2011 planning commission meeting.
Several residents at Monday’s meeting remembered Gibb’s comments and said they found them offensive in their focus on job creation, not resident concerns like traffic.
“He did suggest that Blossom Ridge would create many, many new jobs in Oakland Township,” said Annalisa Rogers. “It would actually be a business, a senior business there that would actually have people show up for work on any given day. … Mr. Gibb didn’t really help Blossom Ridge’s initiative as it relates to how he positioned it.”
At next week’s meeting, the board plans to select another attorney. Beyond that, many procedural questions remain unanswered and Monday’s motion did not, in the end, address the county issue at all.
“In a perfect world, the plan would have gone from the planning commission to the county before it came to the board of trustees. But that obviously didn’t happen.” Gonser said. “So technically, now, the decision is in the hands of the electorate. It will not come back to this board.”