OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
March 27, 2001
Public Comment session was held at the Township Hall. Supervisor VanDyke called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Supervisor John VanDyke
Clerk Deb Everett
Treasurer Nancy Culp
Trustee Norm Anderson
Trustee Lois Brown
Trustee Dave Bushouse
Trustee Barry Steadman
Also present was Patricia Mason, Township Attorney, Bob Snell, Township Engineer, Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Planner, and approximately 50 interested people.
Supervisor VanDyke requested the minutes of the March 13th meeting be corrected to show adjournment at approximately 7:25 p.m. before Mrs. Brodasky spoke. Motion by Steadman, second by Culp to approve minutes as corrected. Carried.
Income to the General Fund of $10,957.30 and disbursements of $47,588.08 and income to the Fire Fund of $2.00 and disbursements of $42,953.54 were reported. Motion by Culp, second by Anderson to acknowledge the receipts and pay the bills. Carried.
Deb Steenholdt, 933 Wickford, commented to Supervisor VanDyke that after having been in the audience at the March 13th board meeting, he appears to be having a difficult time following through with campaign promises, for instance, treating everyone with respect. She further commented she was a witness to his public humiliation of Deb Everett over a supposed untimely response to a request for information, his unprofessional public challenge of a bill from the township attorney's office and the embarrassment caused several other board members and some residents in the audience. She further commented these issues brought forth could have and should have been handled in the course of a day's work in the office, not in a public forum She then commented that Mr. Steadman's treatment of the Brodaskys was appalling, stating that Mr. VanDyke and Mr. Steadman both hold public offices and a board member should not challenge a resident to continue a discussion in the parking lot, asking where is the professionalism and respectful treatment. She further stated she is disappointed in their actions and demands a public apology be extended to Deb Everett and the Board, Mr. Reed and his office, the Brodaskys and the audience.
Kadir Mohmand, 6147 Old Log Trail, commented he is glad Mr. VanDyke is here and that he recently received some documents that show that some board member might have violated the law and he will give them to Mr. VanDyke so he can turn them over to the proper authorities. He further commented that Mr. Snell is the County Surveyor, Township Engineer and also the engineering firm he works for receives a lot of jobs in Oshtemo Township and asked Mr. VanDyke to look into this matter to see if there is a conflict of interest. He stated he would like to make an appointment with Mr. VanDyke to give him the documents he has.
Stan Rakowski, 7151 West G Avenue, commented that at the last meeting he called to the attention of Mr. Steadman that he was not voting, his response was "apparently there are plenty of people here for something to pass". Mr. Rakowski then read from the Charter Township Act 359 of 1947, Section 42.7 that "a member of the Township Board who is recorded as present shall vote on all questions decided by the Board unless otherwise excused by unanimous consent of the other members present." He further commented that if Mr. Steadman does not vote then he is doing a disservice to the people of Oshtemo Township and what is his purpose here.
Wendy Fleckenstein commented that she is not a Township resident but wished to state to Mr. VanDyke that his attack on your legal counsel is unfounded. She further commented she has worked in the past for Mr. Reed and Ms Mason personally and there is nothing improper or unethical about their billing practices or the way they conduct themselves.
Michael Peat, 9134 Highland View, commented over the next week there will be a citizens petition begun to remove the Fire Chief from the Township and it will be presented at a later date, there will be a press conference probably sometime next week if nothing is done by the Township and they will provide all the information they have on his conduct over the past few years that they think has gone with no action. He further commented that he didn't know if it has anything to do with the past meeting taken into closed session, but they will make sure the Board knows and the citizens know and then take the conduct from there to the citizens and let them make the decision and present the petitions to the Board.
Brian Molony, 7491 Stadium Drive, commented that under the Freedom of Information Act, he requested some information regarding what happened at the last meeting and would like to ask Mr. VanDyke to answer a few questions regarding the Reed, Stover bill that was referred to, on the 13th, 14th and 15th regarding personnel matters but no reference to who was requesting this, on the 16th it says prepare for meeting, conference with Ms Everett and again on the 19th prepare for meeting and telephone conference with Ms Everett and then again on the 19th a reference to suspension of the chief, going on to 20th, a telephone conference with Ms Everett regarding suspension of Chief Howe and then on 21st referred to termination, on 21st disclosure of personnel matter to Ms Culp. He then indicated his question was is this the way the firm normally invoices the Township and why Ms Everett and Ms Culp were involved in this matter. Mr. VanDyke responded he doesn't really have an answer.
Attorney Mason advised some of the answers to the questions that have been asked have to do with attorney client privileged communication and it is a decision by the Board as to whether to waive that privilege and disclose the information, being very careful not to disclose matters that occurred in closed session. She further advised she could, if the Supervisor wishes, speak to the issue of whether the Clerk and Treasurer and any other Board Member have an interest in personnel matters involving the Township, commenting that it should be obvious that as the governing body, the Township Board members, would have an interest in all personnel matters.
Mr. Vandyke commented that he knew nothing of the billing and as stated at the previous meeting this Board did in fact make his office the personnel director, this Board, the attorney, or Ms Everett is not the personnel director.
Attorney Mason advised the invoice has been detailed but is an attorney client privileged communication which is up to the Board, however, to explain for the audience's benefit, the personnel director is not the governing body of the Township, the Township Board governs the decision making, therefore the decisions of the personnel director are answerable to the Board.
Kadir Mohmand inquired if the attorney is elected and why she is not asking for permission to speak. Mr. VanDyke commented he doesn't think the attorney should be the personnel director and doesn't think because of the decisions of the Board that they should be personnel director, they made him personnel director and as such should have the authority to suspend, which is what he did and was not in my opinion a firing, but cannot discuss the closed meeting.
Stan Rakowski commented that Mr. Peat had indicated he is going to work for the removal of the Fire Chief, it would be interesting to know why he was terminated from the Fire Department and is that information available under the Freedom of Information Act, perhaps he has a personal vendetta.
Michael Peat commented it is not their position to use the Board as a method of conveying from one to the other but he would also like to know why he was fired. He further commented he thinks it was because of his questioning of the fire station bids that he asked for that were destroyed and knowing that Mr. Howe had transactions with Mr. Fleckenstein reference working over the numbers and Chief Howe made him aware of that at conferences and he made that publicly known that Chief Howe and Mr. Fleckenstein were having meetings to discuss working the numbers to get Delta Design the job. Mr. Peat further commented he made that known in a public meeting and thinks that is how this all came about. He indicated they also have many other issues but they are more personal issues with the Chief, not things in his line of duty or job description, but may have happened during job hours. He then commented that any Board member wanted an insight into what he knows and what he is putting together he would be happy to discuss it before it becomes public, adding he felt that is a right the Board has and he is willing to open up his personnel file, that he's not afraid of anything in his closet.
MaryAnn Fleckenstein, 5462 Antiqua Circle, addressed Mr. VanDyke and Mr. Steadman saying they were elected to serve the Township and both are doing a disservice to the Township and the Board, promises were made that it was going to be a gentler, kinder community, that the Township would be run smoothly, everyone would be heard. She further commented to Mr. VanDyke that nothing has been done to make the Township run any smoother, his actions are costing the Township money with all the haggling because each time the attorney has to be called it costs money and all because he wants to get even. She further commented that a recall cannot begin for 6 months but she will be one of the first to help if things do not turn around.
LOT SPLIT - FRIE & GIBBS PLAT
A lot split affecting Lot 1, Block 5 of the Frie & Gibbs Plat was received from owner Susan Baker. Mary Lynn Bugge, Planner advised the split would divide the lot into two, and would meet the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and Land Division Act.
Motion by Bushouse, second by Brown to approve the lot split. Carried.
CITY OF KALAMAZOO REZONING ISSUE
Planning Director Jodi Stefforia advised the Board the former Mt. Everest Cemetery property on North Drake Road, physically located in the Township, but under City of Kalamazoo jurisdiction due to an annexation many years ago since at that time it was a City owned cemetery, is under consideration of being rezoned to high density use. Mt. Everest has placed the rear 60 acres of the property on the market for sale. Land surrounding this area in the Township is zoned R-2 and R-3. The rezoning request to the City is for high density - 15 units per acre. Ms. Stefforia advised she presented this information to the Joint Board meeting on February 20th and consensus was to object to the rezoning which she did representing the Township at the City's Planning Commission meeting on March 1st which was also attended by several residents of Beech Avenue. The City Planning Commission requested an official statement from the Township. Action on the item has been postponed to their April 5th meeting.
Trustee Bushouse commented the City originally purchased the property for cemetery purposes and then decided to sell it for private use, they did the Township a disservice by not letting the Township have an opportunity to bid on it and he would express that to their Planning Commission.
Trustee Anderson commented he felt the land should have been given back to the Township.
In response to questions from Trustee Brown, Ms Stefforia advised the City probably zoned the land as single family when they acquired it since cemetery would be a permitted use and there is no evidence they consulted with the Township when they amended their land use plan showing the area for high density.
In response to questions from Trustee Bushouse, Ms Stefforia advised a connection to Maple Hill Drive could be achieved if the land at the end of the street should develop.
Elaine Branch, 7654 West Main, commented that an extension of Maple Hill Drive to H Avenue had been discussed in the past, but was hindered by the fact that the property was a cemetery, and perhaps now would be a time to try to negotiate the possibility of an easement.
Kadir Mohmand commented that he had attempted to purchase the property in the past but was told it was only for cemetery use and perhaps the legality of that should be explored.
Motion by Brown, second by Bushouse to direct the Supervisor to write a letter objecting to the rezoning, addressing the issue that the City never considered surrounding zoning, the City could have let the Township bid on the property and return it to our jurisdiction, and 15 units per acre would be burdensome to the neighbors already established in the area. Carried with Steadman voting no.
2001 ROAD PROJECTS
Treasurer Brown commended the committee on their work negotiating with the property owners on Holiday Terrace to accomplish that project.
Trustee Bushouse commented that he lives on North 7th Street and sits on the Road Committee and will abstain from voting if the Board feels there is a conflict.
It was noted that due to the North 9th Street project, water is being installed on North 7th Street to accommodate the area where water mains will be relocated and water service will be shut down approximately 4 weeks and 7th Street will be used as a detour as well.
Moved by Anderson, second by Culp to approve the road projects as presented with an additional $9, 150.00 to the road budget. Roll call vote showed Brown-yes, Steadman-yes, Anderson-yes, Bushouse-yes, Culp-yes, Everett-yes, VanDyke-yes.
Fire Chief Ken Howe commented an example of the benefits of the Ordinance Enforcement Program utilizing firefighters, a fire at Nottingham Apartments on March 24th was responded to by the OEO, he was first on scene, reported a working fire, and was ready to enter the building as soon as the first truck arrived enabling an aggressive interior attack resulting in the loss of a single apartment unit rather than an entire building due to the quick response.
Scott Paddock, Ordinance Enforcement Officer requested direction from the board in handling the problem with roadside litter. Currently he attempts to identify an owner if possible and contacts them. After discussion, consensus was to have the maintenance man pick up roadside litter and dispose of it on our dump day.
Millard Loy, 5590 Parkview, inquired of Mr. Steadman why he voted no on the City rezoning item. Mr. Steadman responded he had no comment. Mr. Loy noted that he is a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on the Planning Commission; items are discussed openly and members express their opinions and state why when voting no. Mr. Steadman commented it was strange that were so many people in attendance, he was glad they were here, however, he views this as nothing but a political movement. He further commented if the Board has questions of him he would address them in private.
Kadir Mohmand commented when he asked the past Board questions, 90% were never answered, he was usually the only person there, now all these people come, talking improperly and advised Mr. VanDyke to not let people insult Board members.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENTS
Trustee Bushouse advised he would not be at the April 10th meeting.
He inquired of Supervisor VanDyke if the letter had been sent to the State to secure our position in acquiring property on Stadium Drive. Mr. VanDyke advised it was in process.
He further inquired if invitations had been extended to neighboring townships and the City of Kalamazoo to attend our meetings. Mr. VanDyke indicated they had not.
Mr. Bushouse then commented that he greatly appreciates the audience attendance, usually the only time people attend is when they have an issue and most times, after discussion is finished they do not stay for the entire meeting.
He then commented that since at the last meeting concerns were expressed about the attorney and how the attorney acts and what is in the best interest of the township he would propose calling a special meeting.
Motion by Bushouse, second by Brown to call a special meeting to offer Supervisor VanDyke and any other Board members, and Mr. Reed an opportunity to have a discussion on where we think the attorney fits into this Township operation and to assist that meeting, since we are members of Michigan Townships Association, an organization we pay dues to, have an MTA legal counsel attend as an impartial 3rd party. Carried.
It was agreed the set the meeting for April 17th , preferably in the evening, contingent upon all parties being available. Clerk Everett advised she would make the arrangements and notify the Board members.
In response to a question from Trustee Bushouse, Engineer Snell advised the sewer/water committee would be meeting this week to discuss the water/sewer projects for the Townshp and bring a recommendation to the Board.
Clerk Everett read a statement for the record responding to comments made at the last meeting and a memo she had received from Supervisor VanDyke indicating a violation of the Open Meetings Act regarding the minutes of the February 21st special meeting, emphasizing that due to time constraints, illness and no previous precedent, she did not intentionally withhold the minutes of the closed session from any Board member. (Statement on file in supplement to minutes).
Motion by Everett, second by Brown to set a policy for closed session minutes in which the Clerk will transcribe the closed session minutes, notify Board members when they are ready and it will be the responsibility of the Board member to make arrangements with the Clerk to review the minutes before the next scheduled regular meeting if they wish to review them, if there are changes or corrections to be made, the Board will go into closed session to do so. Carried with Steadman and VanDyke voting no.
There was no further business and the meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.
DEBORAH L. EVERETT
Attested: John VanDyke