A call for more open information at meetings

Dear Editor,
Mayor Percival had a very nice letter in the Clarkston News about everyone working together for the greater good (“Many work together to make city a success,” Jan. 10).
I like the mayor and he is one of the most active and involved mayors the City of the Village of Clarkston has ever had. That said, I don’t know how the city will ever achieve the stated goals given their current policies.
As I have mentioned numerous times, the city has been fighting the intent of Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in court for more than two years and not complying with it for even longer.
The current battle is the city defending a city official’s ability to withhold city information from the City Council and public, and be paid for that with our tax dollars even though there is no known formal decision by the city council to do this or defend it.
You can ponder that for a while as it is difficult to understand.
I give immense credit to Council member Susan Wylie as the only member of the city council to publicly affirm this is not right. What about everyone else?
Related to this is a new twist that the public cannot comment on items when they are discussed and decided at council meetings. Apparently, the council has all the information they need when the discussion starts and doesn’t need or want more, at least not from the public that must pay the bill for what the council decides.
This is totally arbitrary, not in keeping with the City Charter, and hardly what anyone would call good democratic government of and by the people.
How does anyone make good decisions and work together when one part of our government is withholding information from another and the public?
How do any of us participate in the democratic process if we don’t know what is going on, have no way to find out, and cannot participate in the process?
Please ask your elected council members and let me know.
Cory Johnston

Caution needed with development by pipeline

Dear Editor,
Maybe it was ironic, but in the Jan. 10 Clarkston News, I read a comment from Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle that the Encore at Deerhill Villas development, approved by the Independence Township Board in 2016 in spite of objections by local Clarkston residents, will break ground in spring of this year.
The same week I read Mr. Kittle’s comments confirming the start of the Encore at Deerhill Villas development, it was also made public the cause of the November 2017 natural gas explosion in Orion Township was the weight of “fill material” added over the top of the pipeline by a third party.
The weight of the fill stressed the pipeline and caused it to sag due to the compressibility of the supporting soil layer. Following this recent Orion Township incident, Consumer’s Energy stated it will take immediate action to help ensure a similar incident does not happen again by enhancing inspection patrols of all gas transmission lines; revisiting their construction standards to evaluate soil compressibility; and implementing comprehensive remediation plans that meet or exceed state and federal requirements.
The Orion Township incident reminded me of an article I submitted to The Clarkston News in 2016. I have walked the Buckeye Pipeline property that runs through the property to be developed as the Encore at Deerhill Villas many times and it would appear to me when and if the development of this property does take place, significant amounts of “fill material” will be required over the existing pipeline.
Discussions with Buckeye officials at the time the Encore at Deerhill Villas project was approved by the Independence Township Board did confirm the material traveling through the Buckeye Pipeline was in fact a liquid petroleum product.
Depending on the volatility and flash point of this material it may be less subject to an explosion due to rupture or break as the result of development of this site. I shudder to think of the environmental contamination such an event could cause to residents near the Encore at Deerhill Villas site and as well to our pristine Deer Lake.
At the very least I feel given the recent Orion Township incident, the Independence Township Board, as well as Buckeye Pipeline and developer Michael Furnari need to provide written and detailed confirmation as to how an Orion Township incident will be prevented before the development of the Encore at Deerhill Villas site commences.
What I am aware of to date is a Catastrophic Failure and Recovery Plan was provided by Buckeye officials and a secured bond required by Independence Township from Mr. Furnari to protect the township and its residence against environmental and property damages that could result in the event of a breach of the Buckeye Pipeline caused by development of the property, but neither of these remedies focus on prevention of a breach of the Buckeye Pipeline and neither remedy addresses the short and long term monetary impact and environmental impact should a breach occur.
Robert White
Independence Township

Ryan for superintendent

Dear Editor,
Well, perhaps a PhD isn’t the most necessary qualification to be a school superintendent.
Are Dr. Rod Rock’s lemmings on the school board going to resign as well, the ones so hot on re-writing his evaluation?
Maybe it’s time to hire from within, someone with character, integrity and morals. Say, Mr. Shawn Ryan.
My two cents,
Gerry Schmidt
Springfield Township

Hospital push appreciated

Dear Editor,
I was happy to read in the Jan. 10 issue Supervisor Pat Kittle is still pushing for a hospital (“Big 2018 plans in township,” Jan. 10).
I was disappointed to hear the Beaumont deal for the property on the corner of M-15 and Cranberry Lake Road fell through. As I understand it, the Beaumont project included not only a hospital, but walking trails and other health programs for our residents.
Mr. Kittle’s points about jobs, housing, and taxes are all valid points that support a hospital. As a nearby property owner, I feel the last thing we need on the property is a 24-hour store like Meijer or Walmart.
Ann Margaret Johns
Independence Township

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