Letter to the Editor: Push back, now get pushed out?

Dear Editor,

I had my first meeting with the new Independence Township Supervisor Gerald Fisher last week.
After going to the meetings and fighting to get someone from the outside to fill the vacant supervisor position created by Pat Kittle’s resignation, I made the appointment to discuss what I knew about what had been happening and what changes I would recommend after my 20 years of being on the Independence Township Planning Commission, having worked on several master plans with three administrations. Being the longest serving commissioner, I know a lot of the history of the township’s development past practices.
From a development point of view, I believe we needed a change in leadership to help change the direction the board was going under the last supervisor’s reign. So after the usual welcome to the neighborhood talk, he informed me that one of the first official acts he will take is to have me removed from the planning commission by not recommending my re-appointment some time in December.
It appears that my pushing back against how lenient and loose they have become with the requirements for good quality developments will cost me. It has become very obvious that the approvals really benefit the developer much more than in the past. Attracting new tax base far outweighs the impact on the residents.
When I pushed back against allowing only 40 feet from a resident’s backyard to a new second-floor apartment balcony on a 70-acre parcel, the rest of the commission agreed and recommend it be extended to 70 feet at least. I thought 100 was much more appropriate, but I will take what I can get. The board pushed through the project prior to voting to accept the change and better protect the residents.
There was a push from the administration to have the residents absorb the cost and maintenance of the Waldon project-required 17-acre park to save the developer the costs, which is luckily not happening now, due to the parks department.
There have become many more approvals that have been being done administratively and have bypassed the planning commission’s oversight. They have removed the planning department from the building department to evade even more oversight.
Not sure if it is a coincidence (you can decide) that the new supervisor is also the same person who I fought with for two years to save the historic Bailey House on Sashabaw Road, the house that Mr. Fisher and Mr. Kittle fought so hard to have demolished.
After years of fighting the county parks board that Mr. Fisher chaired at the time, those board members had the integrity and morals to push back against him so the kids would have an opportunity of a lifetime and our landmark could be saved.
The Clarkston Community Schools Construction Tech program has taken on this amazing project and is doing a fantastic job restoring the structure and learning all about all facets of construction, community service, and local pride. Any rational person can see this for what it is.
There is not one person, board member or commissioner who follows the township’s planning procedures who can say with a straight face that I am not a benefit to the community and commission in regard to trying to control growth and protect the residents against the administration’s pro-development decisions.
The question is, are there any members of the board or commission with the integrity and loyalty to the community that will push back against this attack from Mr. Fisher? We will see next month when they put the commissioner’s re-appointments on the agenda.
The one thing he made perfectly clear at our meeting was that he will be recommending the one non-resident member be reappointed, and definitely not me.
We really needed change, and we got the same thing in the interim supervisor. He hasn’t been in office long enough to even see a planning commission meeting, but apparently knows how terrible of a job I have done for 20 years to make this bold move.
All the reasons why people distrust the government is on display daily in our township.
I didn’t feel it would be right to just be erased by these elected officials and not fight back and inform the people who love this town. We want to live here long after they’re gone. And the damage they are doing will be evident much longer than that.
I feel sorry for the people whose quality of life has been diminished by these poor planning decisions, but I’m pretty sure the board hasn’t given any thought to that.
If I’m erased from my formal position, I will still do my best to notify the public what is about to happen to them, and hopefully before it does.

Sam Moraco
Independence Township

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