OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
April 10, 2001
Public Comment session was held at the Township Hall. Supervisor VanDyke called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
Supervisor John VanDyke
Clerk Deb Everett
Treasurer Nancy Culp
Trustee Norm Anderson
Trustee Lois Brown
Also present was Patricia Mason, Township Attorney, Bob Snell, Township Engineer, Mary Lynn Bugge, Planner, and approximately 60 interested people.
Supervisor VanDyke advised Cable Access had been invited to tape the meeting.
Sharon Kuntzman, 7500 West N Avenue, a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals commented she wished to speak to the issue of the Township attorneys. She further commented that while members of the ZBA are lay people serving their community, most have no knowledge of state and federal law. The attorney had, in the last meeting, been aware of a federal law that had just passed. Because of the attorney the members avoided making a decision that would have been in violation of federal law. She urged the Board to think long and hard about how to deal with the attorney and having them attend meetings because they are needed and hoped the Board would at least poll the Planning Commission and ZBA members for their thoughts on the issue.
Helen Brodasky, 6392 Buckham Woods, commented she was glad we had representation at the City of Kalamazoo Planning Commission meeting regarding the rezoning of the cemetery property and inquired if dates could be made available of any other meetings concerning this issue. Supervisor VanDyke advised the City's Planning Commission supported our position opposing the rezoning. He advised anyone interested in knowing the next meeting date on the issue to leave their name so they can be notified.
Trustee Brown commented she appreciated Mrs. Brodasky paying attention to the issue as a township citizen and commended Planning Director Jodi Stefforia on following the issue carefully and addressing how it would affect Oshtemo Township and felt that kind of service from our employees should be recognized.
Kadir Mohmand, 6147 Old Log Trail inquired if Mr. VanDyke had forwarded the memo he gave him to the proper authorities. Mr. VanDyke advised he had. Mr. Mohmand then commented that if Sheriff Edmonds and Prosecutor Jim Gregert don't do anything would Mr. VanDyke please give documents to federal prosecutors. Mr. Mohmand then inquired if Trustee Brown felt she paid taxes like everybody else. Mrs. Brown advised she understood her property had been under scrutiny and had gone before the Board of Review who felt the assessor did an excellent job. She further commented that over the years three assessors have been to her property, looked at it and know all of the details of it which she felt Mr. Mohmand or Mr. Peat do not. She further stated she feels she is paying her fair share. Upon further questions from Mr. Mohmand regarding her property, Mrs. Brown invited Supervisor VanDyke, Assessor Steve Hudson and the Kalamazoo County Equalization Department to visit and review her property.
Joel Steenholdt, 933 Wickford, inquired of Mr. VanDyke the contents of the memo that Mr. Mohmand referred to and also Mr. VanDyke's relationship with him. Mr. VanDyke advised he has known Mr. Mohmand for some time, they befriended each other and the memo was basically a meeting of people at the Township setting up the insurance program for Mr. Fleckenstein. He further commented he believes the violation would be of the Open Meetings Act and is being pursued since it was requested of him to do so.
Attorney Mason advised she had not been made aware of the allegations, however, explained that informational exchanges are not necessarily a violation of the Open Meetings Act, just as packets regarding meeting informing Board members of issues and background information is not a violation.
Clerk Everett commented that she was a recipient of the memo, but there was no meeting between Board members. Attorney Mason confirmed that dissemination of information by memo to members is not a violation and if an immediate decision has to be made and the officers of the Township make a decision pending a meeting, that is also not a violation. An open meeting took place at which a decision was made by the Board as a whole concerning the issue and anyone who wished to challenge the decision had 60 days from that meeting to do so.
Kadir Mohmand, read part of the memo indicating that former Supervisor Ron Fleckenstein had discussed the issue with Board members and Treasurer elect Culp.
Casper VanderVeen, 889 North 10th Street, questioned why the attorney's nameplate said Richard Reed. Attorney Mason advised she is one of the Township's attorneys. He further commented there was an election, a result, and recount and it appears that the old gang doesn't want to accept the vote; it's time to accept the majority vote of the people and consider their thoughts.
Mike Zaeske, 1796 North 9th Street, commented he does not want to see a Board run the Township that is just technically, legally correct but wants to see a Board that takes into account the interests and welfare of the people who live here. He further commented that what has been done in the past may be legally correct but would like to see what is more in the public interest as the way things were done when he was involved in a bid process for the Kalamazoo Public Library.
Bob Janssen, 8670 Almena Drive, commented he is a 28 year resident, has seen a lot of elections, people defeated and people elected, but this is the poorest he's seen lately. He further commented he thinks Mr. VanDyke is trying to do his job but there are inner problems. He further inquired regarding the property at the corner of North 10th Street and West Main that at one time a motel wished to build there but offices have been built there and complimented the project. Trustee Anderson noted there was a rezoning issue involved when the motel and a gas station were considered for the property.
Engineer Snell presented the following information:
Kalamazoo County Road Commission projects for 2001 include rebuilding 11th Street between Stadium Drive and Parkview and the Township may wish to consider extending the current sewer line to Parkview that currently ends at Crystal Lane. This saves considerable expense to the Township when projects are coordinated with roadwork. Another area on KL Avenue where a new building is being constructed could be considered for extension rather than just a single sewer service for the project. He further commented that North 9th Street is progressing and the water installation on North 7th Street should begin in May.
Sharon Kuntzman commented perhaps the public is not aware that everyone is governed by the same code, and if the Boards go against that for one person then precedents are set. She further commented she feels the Township Board, Planning Commission and ZBA have done a good job in following what has been set forth in planning for the Township; if change is needed it should be achieved through a calm and orderly manner but until that happens people on the Boards must go by what is written or risk being open to lawsuits; it is not favoritism, it is following what has been set forth.
Mike Zaeske commented that he in no way was suggesting that anything the Board does should be in conflict in with any of the codes, regulations or laws which govern it, but was suggesting that just meeting the letter of the law was not always sufficient and suggests not taking the track of going with no prevailing legal authority, but would suggest that to be successful and win the votes of the community, make sure you are not only legally correct and comply with codes and regulations, but also do everything to prevent any misconception that there may have been any improprieties and look for alternates that will stand up to the public test in more than just what might ultimately come down in the courts.
Casper VanderVeen, commented the issue of the property at North 10th Street and West Main was brought to full referendum vote and was defeated and further commented the east side of the current project near the hydrant is not a beautiful job.
Supervisor VanDyke called the regular meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Supervisor John VanDyke
Clerk Deb Everett
Treasurer Nancy Culp
Trustee Norm Anderson
Trustee Lois Brown
Also present was Patricia Mason, Township Attorney, Bob Snell, Township Engineer, Mary Lynn Bugge, Planner, and approximately 85 interested people.
Clerk Everett advised the first line of the minutes of the March 27th meeting should be corrected to read, "The Oshtemo Township Board held its regular meeting". Motion by Anderson, second by Brown to approve minutes as corrected. Carried.
Income to the General Fund of $777,998.16 and disbursements of $64,646.40 and income to the Fire Fund of $901,842.31 and disbursements of $40,252.37 were reported. Motion by Brown, second by Culp to acknowledge the receipts and pay the bills. Carried.
Elaine Branch, 7654 West Main, commented that she is not necessarily a Ron Fleckenstein supporter but a supporter of the Township. She then read a statement that while it takes time and effort to keep up with the daily duties, it appears the Supervisor is spending far too much time trying to uncover wrong doings of a prior administration and attending to personal agendas or vendettas, rather than moving forward. She further commented the Township has made amazing progress in the past 20 years and has been a respected leader in the area and she would hate to see this change. She challenged Mr. VanDyke to step back and rethink the direction he is headed and distance himself from the personal agendas of himself and others; look forward, not back.
When asked by Mrs. Branch what his plans are, Mr. VanDyke invited her to come to his office anytime for a discussion.
Kadir Mohmand commented that all the problems started because of a sign he put on his property and when he came to the Township for information regarding rezoning of his property. He further commented that he told Elaine Branch he wanted to see the hard copy, she told him she didn't have them and he brought his wife and was put in front of a projector that wasn't working and he opened it and there was a dead mouse in the window which he removed. He further commented he doesn't know how a human being can treat another human being as he's been treated by Elaine Branch he will never forget it; if she had provided the hard copy we would never be in the position we are in.
Bob Janssen commented he helped Mr. VanDyke in the election and does not think the Board has been 100% behind him. He further comment that although Mr. VanDyke may have made mistakes, he is an honest, fair person and knew what the job consisted of when he ran; there were some problems during the election, but it is over and let's work together.
Deb Bucholtz-Hiemstra, Kalamazoo County Commissioner, advised of a new initiative by the County Commission that they are called the Kalamazoo County Coordinating Council, not to supercede or impede efforts of COG but to fill the void that exists. They hope to work to all municipalities, and non-governmental entities on issues of common interest that are mutually beneficial and a letter will be coming from the group seeking feedback on those issues of concern.
Don Danielson, 8633 Almena, commented he is a 30 year resident and at times came to the Township to ask questions or get information and was treated very rudely; that is the reason he voted for Mr. VanDyke; a change was needed. He further commented he feels that the Township has treated its long-term residents very poorly; looking at developments but not at the big picture, instead it puts in large trailer parks and does things he feels are unethical.
Neil Sikora, Planning Commission Chairman, commented on the Kalamazoo City Planning Commission meeting that he, Supervisor VanDyke and Planning Director Stefforia attended regarding the proposed rezoning of the Mt. Everest Cemetery property on Drake Road.
He stated he had conversations with several people at the City and urged future cooperation in such matters, including exchange of Land Use Plans and contacting neighboring municipalities when changes are considered or rezoning requests are received. He felt the City was open to these ideas as well.
Supervisor VanDyke read a letter of resignation from Trustee Barry Steadman. (Copy on file in supplement to minutes.) Mr. VanDyke commented that he would miss Mr. Steadman's support and was sorry to see him feel that way and want to leave.
Scott Husted, 10494 West L Avenue, commented he is a life long resident and business owner, supported a new Board in the election and was hoping everyone could work at trying to make the Township a better place and would like the bickering he's read about in the newspaper to stop and the Board can get on with business, and he supports the Board.
PLANNING COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION - TEXT AMENDMENTS
MINIMUM SEPARATION BETWEEN BUILDINGS
CORRECTION-SECTION 60.500 OPEN SPACE COMMUNITY
RENUMBER SECTION 78.800 TO 24.207(F)
Planner Mary Lynn Bugge presented the following recommendations from the Planning Commission:
Section 66.201 - Reduction in the minimum separation between residential buildings of up to four units on the same parcel, lot or building site from 40 feet to 20 feet. It would permit greater flexibility in the placement of buildings but not affect density.
Section 60.550B - Correction of the word "off-street" to "off-site" and the addition of the words "and dedicated" that were inadvertently omitted.
Section 60.550C - Removal of the second sentence of the third paragraph; it is already stated in Section 60.550B where it is appropriate.
Section 78-800 - Renumber to Section 24.207.f, the section lists the conditions and limitations multi-family dwellings are subject to.
Motion by Everett, second by Anderson to set the text amendments for First Reading on April 24th. Carried.
METRO TRANSIT AGREEMENT
Supervisor VanDyke presented a 3-year agreement with Metro Transit for bus service in the Township in the amount of $14,655 for 2001. In response to questions from Board Members, he advised it is a 3% increase from the previous contract, provides more coverage and a system wide ridership survey is being conducted and results will be forwarded to the Board.
Motion by Brown, second by Anderson to approve the Metro Transit contract. Roll call vote showed Anderson-yes, Brown-yes, Culp-yes, Everett-yes, VanDyke-yes.
LAWN MAINTENANCE BIDS
Supervisor VanDyke advised three bids were received; he figured them at 5 mowings per month, with flat rate charges for spring and fall clean up.
Niewoonder - $35,865.00
Hadaway & Sons - $37,000.00
Kuhn's - $69,645.00
It was noted that Hadaway & Sons has had the lawn maintenance contract for the past 2 years.
Trustee Brown inquired if Mr. VanDyke had a history of bidders or was familiar with the firms or their work. Mr. VanDyke advised he did not have that information. Mrs. Brown commented that she was familiar with Hadaway's work and knows from past experience problems that can occur in the cemeteries and the complaints that have been filed when we've had other services and she felt there is merit to knowing we can trust the service to do the job that we expect to be done, even though the cost is a little more and with no history or background on the other bidders, she wouldn't have a basis to make another judgment.
Clerk Everett commented that over the past two years she had received 3 or 4 calls each year complimenting the appearance of the cemeteries.
Shane Thompson, representing Hadaway & Sons, commented in the past they have been bidding for leaf disposal, if the Township had means for disposal it would cut the cost of the bid. It was discussed that currently the Township does not have such a means.
Motion by Culp, second by Brown to award 2001 lawn maintenance contract to Hadaway & Sons. Roll call vote showed Brown-yes, Culp-yes, Everett-yes, Anderson-yes, VanDyke-yes.
Trustee Brown inquired regarding Mr. Steadman's resignation and the appropriate action for the Board to take and discussion concerning a procedure for filling the position.
Mrs. Brown commented that a number of Mr. Steadman's supporters have been disappointed by his resignation, she didn't know him well enough to be a supporter or non-supporter and would have hoped that he would have acknowledged his plans with the rest of the Board before it became a media item, he may have been a very productive Trustee but we will never know that now.
Motion by Brown, second by Anderson to accept Mr. Steadman's resignation. Carried.
Clerk Everett explained the Board has 45 days to appoint a Trustee or a special election would be held. She commented she felt the Board could fill the vacancy; she had received several phone calls from interested people and felt we would have a number of applicants. There was discussion on accepting resumes and holding interviews, which will be done at public meetings with the Board.
Motion by Culp, second by Anderson to accept resumes for the Trustee position until 5:00 p.m. on April 24th, the Supervisor, Clerk and Treasurer will determine the time needed for interviews and will call for a special meeting to begin them on May 1st if necessary, otherwise they will scheduled for the May 8th meeting. Carried.
Supervisor VanDyke advised the special meeting scheduled for April 17th has been cancelled and the Board will be attending a workshop at the Michigan Township Association office in Lansing on April 21st. Clerk Everett advised at the previous meeting Trustee Bushouse made a motion to hold a special meeting to discuss the issues concerning the Township Attorney and had requested an MTA representative to attend. Mrs. Everett advised MTA does not provide that service but suggested the Board attend a workshop at their office. She further explained that to comply with the Open Meetings Act, specific Township business cannot be discussed, topics of discussion will include each board member's role, how to work as a group, how to build consensus, and how to resolve conflicts. She further suggested attending the workshop first, then holding the special meeting.
Motion by Everett, second by Brown to cancel special meeting scheduled for April 17th and reschedule at a later date. Carried.
Supervisor VanDyke advised he would be appointing a deputy supervisor; he commented quite a few citizens of Oshtemo had contacted him regarding this, one of which is Curtis Bell. He advised Mr. Bell has lived in the Township for most of his life as has his family and his wife's family, he is concerned about the Township and has offered to do this on a volunteer basis which Mr. VanDyke feels is very good of him. He further commented that Mr. Bell is a local businessman and has specific skills that could be very beneficial to the Township and he feels Mr. Bell can do a lot to serve and help with some problems.
Trustee Brown inquired if Board action is necessary. Attorney Mason advised it is not for the appointment, Board action would be required to authorize a salary for the position.
Trustee Brown inquired what the duties of the position would be. Mr. VanDyke advised to help the Supervisor in many areas.
Curtis Bell, 3711 North 2nd Street, commented he would site as a specific example the committee referred to by Commissioner Bucholtz-Hiemstra for coordinating County activities, since he has legal expertise he would request that Mr. VanDyke allow him to go to those meetings to assist in that capacity. He further commented Mr. VanDyke cannot be everywhere at once and any meetings he could attend on his behalf he would appreciate the opportunity to do so. He further commented is he here is assist in any capacity the Supervisor or Township Board would like. He also commented that he lives here, his in-laws are third generation farmers in Oshtemo and he has no intention of leaving and would like to serve and assist the Board. When questioned about his qualifications, he indicated he is an attorney, attended Mattawan Schools, serves on three non-profit boards, has ties to the community, talks to a lot of people about their concerns and as an attorney has negotiated a lot of matters and would try to use those skills to facilitate.
Mary Ann Fleckenstein, 5462 Antiqua Circle, inquired if Mr. Bell would have authority to hire or fire staff, does Mr. VanDyke plan on having him as the Township attorney, as a volunteer can he make commitments for the Township, since he would not be a paid employee will he have access to Township records and since he will be assisting does that mean Mr. VanDyke is going to cooperate with the Board, go forward and try to help the community.
Mr. VanDyke responded that Mr. Bell would not have authority over Township personnel, he will not be the Township attorney, he could not make commitments for the Township without the consent of the Township Board, and he would have the same access to files as any citizen except personnel files. He further commented that he feels he has made progress in office, people are starting to get comfortable with him, when he took office he swore to uphold the law and he has to do that.
Treasurer Culp inquired if Mr. Bell would have regular office hours. Mr. VanDyke advised he would serve on call as needed.
Clerk Everett commented she was surprised by Mr. Steadman's resignation, didn't get to know him well, conversations she had with him were cordial and concerns regarding the issues in his letter he never discussed with her, but wishes he had. She further commented that she does not desire to have an adversarial relationship with anyone on the Board; all must work together, especially the three officials who are in the office everyday. She also commented she doesn't feel there is a great divide, there are issues she and Mr. VanDyke have discussed that they do agree on and some they don't, which will be the case with any Board, and feels attending the workshop will give the Board some of the tools they need to address these issues.
Carolyn Vestal, 3833 North 6th Street expressed concern that as population density increases so does the amount of trash along the roadways. She was advised to try to identify anyone engaging in such activity and in any case contact the Township Office. It was noted the Township has a dump day each month for residents at no charge.
There was no further business and the meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:20 p.m.
DEBORAH L. EVERETT
Attested: John VanDyke