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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.

Nestof Vipers November 29, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Say it isn’t so the last board didn’t following the Zoning laws as laid out by the State of Michigan? That could never have happened, former Trustee & Planning Commission Board Representative with 22 years of experience, Marc Edwards assured us (more times than I can count) that the Blossom Ridge zoning would stand up in court. Now we have this BOMB, how could the old Board, have missed this procedural issue? One has to wonder why our paid planner Mr. Larry Nix with over 30 years experience missed this as well. Perhaps we should ask for Mr. Nix employer Williams & Works of Grand Rapids, to pick up the Townships Attorney fees on this one since he so glaringly fell down on the job. This whole situation begs the question what else was missed, overlooked, or had a blind eye turned to it during the whole BR vetting process? It makes one question “what else the planning commission (under Mr. Nix, professional guidance) has missed on other pieces of work they have produced”, like the new Ordinance 16? This is the Ordinance that had “major” changes made to it but no one on the Planning Commission including Mr. Nix has notes for. Notes the old board asked for before moving forward. It really makes this citizen questions what has been going on in the Township.
Nestof Vipers November 29, 2012 at 02:54 PM
To the new Board, thank you for taking a reasoned approach to this issue. Perhaps on Monday you will be able to tell us if we (yes we since this is our government) can fix this mess. Nestof Vipers
Jay Wiencko November 29, 2012 at 03:38 PM
CMNtv was happy to cover this meeting for the Township, pro-bono, and although there was not enough time for us to repair the channel's audio problems so as to accompany the live video on Comcast, the entire meeting is now viewable on-demand at: http://video.cmntv.org/video/669/oakland-township-board-of-trus
Bob November 29, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Tea party in full force in Oakland Township. Christian Prayer before meeting (let's not worry about Muslim, Jewish residents). Supervisor Gonser "educates" citizens that the US is a Republic, not a democracy after a long bitter speech eluding that Obama's win will lead to a dictatorship. Glad these meetings are on TV. Should be fun to watch these characters.
Beth November 29, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Wow, Bob, have a chip on your should much? First, our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values, and prayer seems perfectly reasonable. You know the Congress used to do it, too, right? if you think 'Tea Party' is a slur, you are sadly mistaken. It simply means that many of us think we need to live by Constitutional values and smaller government. Next, bless your heart, a "long bitter speech" lasted maybe a minute or less, and there was nothing "bitter" about it. Finally, if you think the current BOT are "characters" I cannot imagine what you thought of the previous Board...unless you are part of the 3% of the electorate who supported Joan Fogler?
Ivy November 29, 2012 at 06:49 PM
"our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values" Was one of those values slavery? Maybe we should bring that back?
Bob November 29, 2012 at 08:57 PM
It's a township. We don't need lectures on Republic v. Democracy or prayer. Mr. Gonser isn't President of the United States. He is a Township Supervisor. Worry about the roads, safety of ALL citizens, being business friendly. I didn't vote for him or Fogler.
Dee Kay November 29, 2012 at 09:13 PM
"our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values" Actually, our founding fathers were more into "enlightenment", which more closely parallels deism than Judeo-Christian philosophy. Around 33% of the signers of the Constitution, and 25% of the signers of the DoI were free masons, and believed in extraterrestrial life over the bible. Religion belongs in the church, not in government. The tea party is no different than either the democrat or republican party. When most people say "smaller government", they mean smaller government for themselves but want government to force those with differing ideologies to conform to the views of the first party. Step back from the ideology and you can see it quite clearly.
Acorn Twp. November 29, 2012 at 09:59 PM
It was a wise move having another lawyer's opinion, Joppich should have caught this mistake also. What else could have been done wrong? Illegal dam removable? Edwards really pushed for that mess. Prayer at a public government meeting should not happen! It is harassment and bullying for those that are not the same faith or are atheist. I can pray silently in my thoughts, do not need an outsider to direct me. No more prayers, we can do that in the church or temple of our own choice. That is what America is about our choice or freedom of our religious beliefs.
Acorn Twp. November 29, 2012 at 10:04 PM
It was a wise move having another lawyer's opinion, Joppich should have caught this mistake also. What else could have been done wrong? Illegal dam removable? Edwards really pushed for that mess. Prayer at a public government meeting should not happen! It is harassment and bullying for those that are not the same faith or are atheist. I can pray silently in my thoughts, do not need an outsider to direct me. No more prayers, we can do that in the church or temple of our own choice. That is what America is about our choice or freedom of our religious beliefs.
Daryl Patrishkoff November 30, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Now that we have the mandatory insults thrown at the Republicans, Tea Party, Christians and others can we get back to the issue of this article! Let me get this straight, we have a long time builder, Moceri, who has made long term investments in the area with a great high quality product. On top of the homes they have built, they added walking paths and landscaping which adds to the beauty of the area and helped all of our property values. Moceri has decided to invest more into our area in a difficult economic time, and this investment is to help the seniors with independent living housing. There has been nothing but obstruction to them in getting this development going and approved. Personal attacks on them in other articles and posts claiming they are going to do a poor quality job and take advantage of the locals is just plain wrong. Are you kidding me! Have you driven their developments in the area? Do you know many of their family live in this area? Why would they do a poor quality job? Their product is a high quality one and they are not deviating from their legacy. Now we have a lawyer who is going to use a minor infraction to cause more obstruction in getting this worthy project for seniors approved. It is a wonder that Moceri just does not just give up and not invest any more in our area. We need to encourage investment in our area and stop the obstructions on progress from companies like Moceri who have a great track record in our area.
Mike November 30, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Daryl, It is the Teavangelicals who are fighting the Moceri development. Take a look at the campaigns that he donated to and then take a look at where Bill Fox's (Tea Party) money went.
Barb November 30, 2012 at 12:46 AM
June 13, 2012 - Oakland Township Patch - Township Board Votes To Move Forward With Blossom Ridge - Quotes from Tea Party backed Candidates Terry Gonser (Township Supervisor) - "The vote on the Blossom Ridge Development was certainly disappointing." Jeanne Langlois - (Township Treasurer) "The vote by the Trustees was disappointing." Maureen Thalmann (Trustee) -" A developer wishing to construct a business venture whose project's design is outside the parameters of the township ordinances is treated with deference and respect, while residents questioning the granting of that variance are spoken to arrogantly and their concerns dismissed by a majority of the board."
Marty Rosalik November 30, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Daryl, I will not argue the quality level of Mr. Moceris previous work. I will work to block the re-zoning and did. He is more than welcome to develop within existing zoning. The people opposing this zoning with the most vigor are his very neighbors and customers residing within the surrounding Moceri developments. I find that fact very compelling. Further, that particular group of residents is among the townships most well off. They have a voice, influence, and connections. Your argument that I/we should accept without question any development because it may create some jobs is specious. Why should Oakland Township residents accept something that we see as negative for another man’s profit? The group of “residents” that brought Mr. Need into this is still unknown at least to me. I don’t believe that the group called “the nest of vipers” by some brought him in. The technicality of not involving Rochester Hills or Oakland County may turn out to be a show stopper and then the whole re-zoning process begins anew. Bring a new plan within current zoning and let’s get building!
Acorn Twp. November 30, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Moceri's homes are beautiful, but if you purchase a home in a community that has a master plan, your expectation is the zoning will stay in place. The building that he wants to build is 450' by 150', and 3 stories high. Not walk out basement 3 stories, really 3 stories high. He has owned the property knowing it is zoned for single residential. I am sure if he compromised and made a smaller building or several smaller buildings it would satisfy most citizens. I don't live there but I wouldn't want it next to my house, and those that live there had certain expectations of what that vacant land was to be used for in the future. These citizens have a right to fight it out legally.
Nestof Vipers November 30, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Barb, and your point is what exactly? Nestof
Nestof Vipers November 30, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Wow Mike I hope you spelled Joan Fogler’s name correctly during that write-in campaign of hers because she needed all the help she couldn't get. As for calling us Teavangelicals, I only have one question have you copy righted that yet? Because its kind catchy, and I really do like it. Nestof Vipers Teavangelical & Darn Proud Of It.
Nestof Vipers November 30, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Daryl, I would like to address a few points in your post. First off Mr. Mocheri has not made any long term investments in Oakland Township he has developed properties here which he no longer owns i.e. he has made his money and is out of it now. He still does own a few condo’s in his developments but as I understand it its only because he couldn’t sell them. As for obstruction, all I can say is this Daryl, I have never seen you at a PC meeting or a BOT Meeting so I have no clue how you could say such a thing. Those of us who have followed the process for the last 18 months or more and have tried to reason with both the PC (that’s Planning Commission Daryl) and the BOT (that’s the Board of Trustees Daryl) know how the people were not listed to. We also know how we were told that the PC was just following the law . Well Daryl the people also followed the law when they knocked on doors to get signatures for the referendum. Now lets address “On top of the homes they have built, they added walking paths and landscaping”. Again Daryl you’re out of your element here sir, Because if you had followed any of this, you would know that both walking paths and landscaping are required by our building ordinances which is law. So sir to make is sound as if Mr. Mocheri is some type of philanthropist just shows your ignorance.
Nestof Vipers November 30, 2012 at 03:49 AM
As for this lawyer “who is going to use a minor infraction to cause more obstruction “ well Daryl since we have been told for the last two years on this issue that we have to follow the law, then I really don’t think this is a minor issue. I think it’s and issue that needs to be addressed, keep in mind Daryl, that Citizens of Rochester Hills could also bring action against our Township due to the fact that our PC, last BOT and all our paid consultants and the developer and his lawyers DROPPED THE BALL on this point. Nestof Vipers
Daryl Patrishkoff November 30, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Nestof Vipers, May I ask, is this your real name, or is this a representative of a group of citizens of Oakland Twp? It is good to know who I am having a discussion with and what their motive and/or agenda is. I use my real name, have my profile filled out so one can see who I am and what my background and experience is. I call it the only way to have an adult conversation, I will not have a conversation anyother way. Here is some more information about me for full disclosure on this particular issue. I live in Rochester Hills, just a mile down the street from this proposed facility. I have never been to an Oakland Twp meeting because I am not a citizen of that Township, I have attended and interacted with the City of Rochester Hills as a citizen concerning multiple issues that I am passionate about. I am not in politics, nor want to be. I approach things from a business perspective and dislike the red tape and obstructions to private investments by the government. I believe in control, but minimal, let the free market move forward. I am strongly considering building a home in Oakland Twp and will make the final decision in the next week. Until that time my comments are only as a future citizen of Oakland Twp. My parents in a few years will be looking for such a facility as Blossom Ridge and I am very interested in the Moceri approach. May I ask you who you are and what is your background and motivation? Then we can have an adult conversation.
Daryl Patrishkoff November 30, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Marty, Conditions change over the years and businesses have to make adjustments with their investments to change with the times to provide what the customer wants. Moceri has plenty of property ready to be built on as single family homes, the numbers of buyers are not there like they have in the past. To continue as a viable enterprise they have to change with the market and find a way to continue their operation. If you look around many builders have gone out of business in the past few years, the ones that changed and in decent cash position were able to survive. Oakland Township has to change also to keep itself fresh and current to be a viable community. This is why there is a process in changing the zoning, it appears Moceri did get this done, but this surprise infraction came out recently to obstruct the zone change process. If you read my response to Nestof Vipers you will understand my interest in this issue. I understand every citizen of Oakland Twp has a view about this issue, let the debate continue and the majority decide the path. I dislike groups that hide behind false names, they just do not seem to know how to have an adult conversation and push their hidden agenda. We do not agree on everything we discuss on the Patch, however it has been an adult open conversation and sometimes we agree to disagree. I appreciate that.
Concerned November 30, 2012 at 12:32 PM
As a side note, I would like to thank Comcast for covering the meeting pro-bono so all the citizens of Oakland Township can be informed regarding this matter if they can't physically attend the meetings. This is obviously something the former BOT members did not consider important and I thank the current members for their transparency. My overall feeling is that multiple mistakes were made previously in the approval of Blossom Ridge by the former supervisor and previous members of the BOT. If the project was approved but violated the law, the approval simply has no standing and the process must start from square one this time following the law.
doug November 30, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Daryl Let's be straight on this. Moceri is a good builder, but not a charity. He builds these to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that. The. Residents have every right to challenge and question any attempt to change zoning. It can change the very character of a city. I have watched Rochester Hills erode its character over the years by similar actions. Let the system play itself out. This is not a universally accepted idea, so it deserves nothing less. This technicality did not stop an approved project. There were already petitions circulating to put it to a vote.
Beth November 30, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Daryl, while I am not Nestof, I fully support their right to privacy here in the Township, and on Patch. It may be someone who actually works at the Township offices. At one point in the last 2 years, a private citizen was targeted with legal proceedings by a BOT member - just for speaking out. Barkhams are another example of the BOT going after private citizens. For asking questions, I have been called nasty and thoughless names by the BOT. For the record, I would also be called names here, 'Teavangelical' as I am both a Tea Party member (if there is such a thing as "membership") as well as a Christian Evangelical. Like you, I also believe in the free market system, am a capitalist, and absolutely want what's best for the Township. As someone who is a mentor for the Adambots Robotics Team 245, I have driven to Adams HS too many times to count, and also think there will be traffic problems in that area with such a large facility going in, but my only objection to the proposed BR is the enormous size of the building - which had to be approved through backwards, forwards, over, under and around the existing ordinances. If the law was indeed violated, it would be truly ironic based on the last BOT's actions. Beth Markel Since you have never been to a BOT meeting here in the Township, I would invite you to next Monday night's meeting at 7:00 in the Township Hall.
Daryl Patrishkoff December 01, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Doug, I guess I am surprised to see a great builder like Moceri get demonized by people because they disagree with his proposal. I agree, Moceri is not a charity and they are in business to make money. I do the same in my businesses and am not ashamed that I make a profit with the personal risk I take, because if I am wrong I will lose. We both agree on that. We also agree the residents have every right to challenge and question any zoning change. Moceri did this request, it was approved (as I understand it) and since some residents did not get their way they are obstructing the approval. If this is true, that is bullying, not accepting the decision. But that is my view as a potential future resident of Oakland Twp. I have no say in this matter, and will back off until I am a resident.
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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