BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Running in Tuesday’s election are Incumbent Steven Percival and former City Council member Eric Haven for mayor; for three two-year seats on City Council, incumbents Sharron Catallo, Rick Detkowski, and Sue Wylie, and challengers Al Avery and Hampton Swayne; and for a one-year seat on City Council, Mike Cascone and David Marsh.
Have you read the draft Master Plan for the city? What do you see as the future of the Village given the increased traffic and density in the surrounding area and the changes in use within the Village?
Haven During the last two years I have served on the Planning Commission and helped write the current master plan draft. In addition, when a parking committee became frustrated, I recommended the Planning Commission hire our city planner, Carlisle Wortman, to give us a comprehensive community-wide parking plan, (the topic of a joint Council/PC meeting on 10/22). I am delighted with this future plan for the city, leveraging the commercially attractive downtown with our quaint residential community to assure an enviable place to live, to work, to raise a family and to age-in-place at home.
Percival Yes, I have read the draft Master Plan. The future of the City of the Village of Clarkston will remain a respite to the surrounding areas as a charming and vibrant historical downtown area. Our homes and residential areas will not grow dramatically; maybe a few vacant lots will increase the residential areas if homes are erected. With some new initiatives within the draft master plan we may see some changes to aging in place that will assist families and our elderly in staying in their homes. We have the character of over 150 year old city; we will fight to maintain that character and charm.
Avery Yes. I believe we need to continue to protect the historical nature of our town. I have consistently stated that I oppose any expansion of the commercial district into residential areas.
Cascone Yes. And my compliments and thanks go to the work and product that Team accomplished! No, I do not see the density growth in surrounding areas nor increased traffic changing the core of who we were, who we are, and who we will be tomorrow. It will change the way we manage it – but not destroy it if we do our job consistently and fairly.
Catallo Yes, I have read it. We are not and should not be looking to do dramatic changes to our community. We are fortunate to live in a beautiful place and should be focused on preserving the character of the Village.
Detkowski Upon reading the draft Master Plan, I realize we have some great goals and a lot of hard work went into the plan. Well done. But I also know we have some important details to work out before we can make these goals reality. We have to find where the rubber meets the road and analyze our abilities to achieve. I see the future of the village as a destination that is properly managed with controlled via facts and data, not personal opinions or old beefs. We cannot ignore the fact that we are growing, whether we like it or not. We must balance the desire to not grow with the possible need to increase our tax revenue.
Marsh I have read the draft master plan and I appreciate it and the work of the planning commission. I see the future of the village as getting better, not bigger. I see our residents breathing a sigh of relief when they enter town and not wishing they could move out into the country instead of the living across the street or next to new commercial property.
Wylie I am on the City Planning Commission, and I have read the draft of the Master Plan. As the Master Plan, predicts, Clarkston is surrounded by a growing Independence Township. The city has little control over the traffic on Main St. The city manager continues to meet periodically with MDOT in seeking solutions to calm the traffic that travels on that road. I would like the city to make use of more traffic calming methods to slow down, and hopefully eliminate, some of that traffic on Main St, Holcomb, W. Washington and other affected streets.
The draft Master Plan makes several statements without explanation about not letting commercial uses be in residential areas but says nothing about the commercial uses that already exist in residential areas. Do you see any of this as an issue and if so, why?
Haven No. Some commercial uses already exist in residential neighborhoods as simply non-conforming and grandfathered, subject to the six-month transition rule.
Percival I do not see this as an issue. We have commercial type operations within our residential boundaries. These businesses have been there for years and I see no issue with them remaining. I will not support any further encroachment of business into our residential areas.
Cascone What is, is. The challenge will be the decisions we make tomorrow. There are only a few “grey” colored properties in our community on the draft Master Plan map indicating potential “commercial” use. Every situation that comes before Council must be evaluated on its own merits and compared to our existing ordinances, rules and regulations. If done this way I do not see residential being changed to commercial. But I do see evaluating each situation that comes before Council on its own merits and compared to our ordinances, rules and regulations for application in the zones the Master Plan indicates for commercial use.
Catallo There is not much we can do about legal preexisting commercial uses in residential areas. Over the years we have been vigilant to limit the impact of such uses.
Detkowski This is a touchy subject. We do not have a good balance of tax revenue from businesses in town and it hinders our financial flexibility. However, there’s a strong push to limit this business growth via some viewpoints. This is a balance that we must achieve if we’re to become viable. Likewise, we must understand where the concerns lie with those who are adamantly opposed to new businesses and those who believe that new business tax revenue would really help things out.
Marsh No. Commercial uses that currently exist in residential neighborhoods are non-conforming and grandfathered in.
Wylie I think that all statements of commercial uses of property in residential areas should be explained. Explanations can provide the reasoning behind the allowance of certain commercial uses, and overlays, located in residential districts. These explanations may provide the city with protection from potential lawsuits. Some of these explanations may hard to obtain, since the changes were made in the past. Explanations would also help inform the city residents to help them understand the zoning, the Master Plan, and the city’s future.
Have you read and are you familiar with the city charter, city ordinances, resolutions, policies and procedures?
Haven Yes, like every other citizen-mayor and council person I am generally familiar with the voluminous documents you mentioned. But we are lay persons, by charter, a city-council / city-manager form of government, needing an administrative city manager, municipal attorney, city planner, city engineer and auditors to assist us.
Percival I get accused of following these too much from other members of council, the public and my opponent who has indicated that there are “guidelines” to try and maintain when possible. I feel that they are the rules, laws, and our city’s constitutional document that we should always follow. If parts or part of these are outdated then take the needed steps to change them legally however; follow them until that changes is voted on and enacted.
Cascone City Charter yes. The numerous ordinances, resolutions, policies, procedures, and, and, …no. But certainly will study any and all that will influence my ability to make fair and consistent decisions for the Citizens that elected me. As mentioned previously….there are only two choices: evaluate/implement as written or change it.
Catallo Yes, but like anyone else, I focus on those particular provisions which are related to issues as they come before the council.
Detkowski Well, kind of, but some if it is pretty dry reading. I’m kidding, I’m always reading as it pertains to the issues that arise on Council and for my own knowledge. Especially the part about whether or not I can have chickens in my yard. I also keep a link on my phone for quick reference. As for policies and procedures, I have read them and use them diligently to make sure I don’t become “that guy” on Council. It’s a big deal trying to get people to follow the rules in our city. It shouldn’t be.
Marsh Yes, however, I have not memorized them all yet. I was on the ordinance committee when they were codified. I have been a part of creating some of the policies and procedures. I have read and researched the charter repeatedly. I would expect that anyone who has been willing to serve on City Council can say the same thing.
Wylie I have read most of the City Charter and some of the City Ordinances. I have not read many resolutions, except those made at meetings I attended. I did read the Policies and Procedure Manual when the City Council approved the newest version.
The city council and past members of the original charter committee have talked about amending the city charter. If elected, this may be something you have to deal with. Do you have issues with the current charter?
Haven The City Charter is outdated and definitely needs revision. One prominent example is Section 5.10 which allowed our current mayor, without any public justification, to deny the council the chance to vote or even discuss the reappointment of a long-serving and very qualified member of our Zoning Board of Appeals. I will propose a Charter Revision Commission including city residents and business owners, to update the charter according to a process that is not disruptive or cause the need for special elections.
Percival Yes. Not as a whole but as certain particular topics have changed within our community and the management thereof, we must be mindful and keep this working document up to date via charter amendments voted on by the citizens of this city.
Avery I believe a Charter review committee should be formed to review our Charter. There are provisions that are no longer valid due to state law changes and there are provisions that may be outdated. I would welcome a review of the Charter.
Cascone Yes, with input from every source available to us as fellow Council members we have the responsibility to evaluate our Charter not only as it relates to today’s issues and times, but as best as we can look forward to tomorrow.
Catallo After 25 years, there are some changes that should be made to the charter. Those changes should reflect what we have learned from the experience of the actual operation within the community and to conform to changes in State law.
Detkowski Yes, I have issues in that many parts need to be updated. Yet another job that has fallen into our laps because no one bothered to address it before. More sins of our fathers.
Marsh Yes, the City Charter is out dated. Back when it was created, a lot of the information was taken from other City’s that were close to the same size as Clarkston. There are parts of the charter that go against federal law, there are other parts that are not in the best interest of Clarkston. I am a proponent of amending the city charter.
Wylie Some parts of the City Charter are out-of-date. One part frequently mentioned is Section 4.18 that states an elected official must resign before running for a different city position. A committee should be appointed to amend the City Charter.
Besides running for city council, what other involvement do you have with the Clarkston community?
Haven My wife and family have lived in Clarkston since 1973 owning my own automotive manufacturers representative business here until 1994. My vocation for the past 18 years has been Executive Pastor for Woodside Bible Church & and Estate Investment Director for Woodside Vision Foundation, doing fundraising, which I have also applied to my activities for the city.
I have served on city council intermittently for over 25 years, following in the footsteps of my father-in-law, Richard Weiss, who served on the council that funded city water and sewer. I was a member of the council that secured cityhood for the village in 1992 to assure our self government in the midst of a growing Independence Township. I have served on the Planning Commission for the last two years and helped write the current master plan draft. Two years ago I lead the creation of the Parks & Recreation Master Plan enabling Clarkston to now make application for State DNR Trust funding.
My primary activity over the last 18 months has been to chair the Friends of Depot Park committee, which has been successful, with the help of private donors (especially the Optimist Club) to make many significant improvements to Depot Park.
Percival I participate in many facets of our community from picking up trash around town to attending American Legion, Masonic, Optimist, Rotary club events not to leave out most all other activities in town. I have been a Mason for 33 years now and an American Legionnaire for 20 years now. I support our Clarkston Youth Assistance and sit on the Children’s Village Advisory Council. I also sit on the Solid Waste Board for Oakland County and have been elected annually to the Personnel Appeals Board for Oakland County Government. I have performed weddings and attended many funerals these past few years to offer condolences from our city government to residents from the city and Independence Township.
Along with these duties I have enjoyed many of our communities sporting events, Village Players and Clarkston Drama Club performances (I am a former performer on their stage). Being a former Madrigal Singer with Clarkston High School (Class of ’81) I have enjoyed seeing them throughout our community and participated in community sing a-longs. Along with many events throughout the year, I enjoy our Christmas season and can be found throughout our community and Oakland County dressed in White and Red with a beautiful white beard; talking to many or our kids and posing for photos. I have done this gig for about 24 years now and cap the busy year off in a sleigh ride down Main Street during the annual Holiday Lights Parade.
Avery I previously served on the City Council for 1 ½ years. I have been a member of the Clarkston Rotary Club for 10 years. I have served as President of the Clarkston Rotary on two occasions. During my time as president I began the effort to purchase the holiday decorations that are used downtown every year. I have collected money for the Rotary’s Shoes for Kids program for the past ten years. I helped to stage the Labor Day Parade. I have helped to do the spring cleanup of Depot Park along with the local Cub Scouts. I have helped the Clarkston Lion’s Club collect money during White Cane Week on numerous occasions. I volunteered to help with Maker Girl Mania this past year.
Cascone Our children and now our grandchildren have and do attend Clarkston Schools. My wife Leslie and I have been active in numerous school related projects, fundraisers and volunteerism in school and extracurricular activities. Now our daughter Jill and her husband, Tim, carry most of that load. My son and I for several years had fun building the sets for the Clarkston Drama Club musicals.
I have always been amazed with the amount of work and talent these young people devote to the performances. The stars get the spotlight, as earned, but my appreciation for dedication goes to the “black shirts.” I served in the U.S. Army 1967-69 and I’m a proud member of the American Legion, currently working on a committee to develop policy and procedure for the Club Room. Jim Evans and I worked to put on the very first fund raising dinner for the Optimist Club at the Deer Lake Athletic Club. A recently added volunteer job is for the Road Commission of Oakland County’s “Adopt a Road” program. My family and friends maintain – spelled pick up trash – Holcomb Road from Washington Street to Dixie Highway under the “Friends of Chris Cascone” sign. One of my favorite sayings is…..”a good presentation has a strong start and a strong finish, with very little time between the two!” This narrative has had more than its share of “middle,” so thank you for reading and thanks for your vote.
Catallo Two years on the Council, five years as Village President, 16 years as Mayor and have continued as a council women for the past five years; member of the finance committee; Zoning Board of Appeals member; Various other Village committees including the Tree committee; associate member of the Clarkston Farm & Garden Club; former SCAMP Board member; Clarkston Historical Society member.
Detkowski I’m a musician and I play weekly gigs in town. They’re a lot of fun for and I encourage people to join us to forget about life for a while. I’ve also played many local events and benefits because we need to keep the arts alive in town. Other than that, I shovel sidewalks in the winter because they need to be shoveled and I pull weeds to keep our city as nice as possible. So does my wife. Sweat equity.
Marsh I served on council for four years. I have served on the parking committee, streets and sidewalks committee, signs committee, ordinance committee, I have been the Council representative to SEMCOG and served on the Mill Pond board.
Wylie Currently, in addition to serving on City Council, I am the chair of the City Communications Committee and a Commissioner on the City Planning Commission. I assist the city staff by occasionally posting news items on the City website. I am also a committee member for the Clarkston Community Awards. In the past, I served in various PTA and PTO positions at Clarkston Elementary and Clarkston Middle School, I was a member of the Pine Knob Ski Patrol, and taught catechism classes at St. Daniel Church. I am also a frequent patron of our downtown stores and eating establishments.
Hampton Swayne did not respond to a request for responses to this questionnaire.
Andrea Catalina of Independence Township and Stefanie Crane of Independence Township are running for two, six-year terms on the Clarkston Community Schools Board of Education.