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Posted: 02/20/13

Not all happy with location
of safety path in Oakland

Observer Special Writer
      It was a marathon five and a half hour session for the Oakland Township Board of Trustees at its Feb. 12 meeting.
       The meeting included a two-hour public hearing over a proposed safety path and boardwalk project on the west side of Adams Road, between an existing safety path that dead ends at Delta Kelly Elementary School and connects to the Paint Creek Trail. It would also connect the Paint Creek Trail to the Polly Ann Trail.
       A grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is helping to pay for the project, with the township contributing matching funds.
       Residents are in favor of the project, stating that it would be safer for trail users. However, several of them objected to the location of the safety path, due to the area's uneven terrain and Adams Road between West Gunn and Orion roads has high traffic volumes and is dangerous to pedestrians.
       This path segment will impact nine property owners. All but two have agreed to the property easements. The township is still trying to negotiate with the other two property owners.
       Richard Michalski is one of the residents who is in favor of the safety path. He explained that 56.5 percent of the township's tax revenue came from the southwest quadrant of the township, and the majority of the money collected from the township's trail millage.
       "Since Oakland Township's financial obligation for this connector is $772,500, the major benefactors of the project have contributed the funds needed to install the path," he said.
       Resident Bob Sirna explained that there were other possible locations for the safety path, citing topography issues for the Adams Road Safety Path.
       "One is along Gunn Road and then up the access of the utility line. Another is a quarter-mile south, then head east at a 45 degree angle along a subdivision and a street that a path could be put that way that would not have any of the elevation issues of the potential 20 to 40 foot trestle that would have to be put on the Adams Road west side and I am sure some kid would push some other kid off of it and we'll have a fatality there caused by the trestle," he said. "I'm not against trails. I want a trail. There's also an area owned by the township on Orion Road just west of Adams where we could put a parking area for very little money and it would give everybody on the Adams Road corridor, including myself, a safe place to park so we can go up there and use the trail safely."
       The board explained that all of the drawings of the safety path are preliminary, and subject to final approval. A decision could not be made at that time as all the easements have not been obtained.
       "The board has received a lot of information. There are so many alternatives that have not even been thought about that we really need to look at. I don't think it's prudent for this board or any board to rush into something just because. I think it's prudent for us to gather as much information as possible and make a reasonable decision," said Township Supervisor Terry Gonser.
       A final decision will be made at the board's March 12 meeting, despite multiple requests from residents to schedule a meeting for Feb. 26.
       The board then went into a closed session for an hour and a half to discuss a legal opinion over the rezoning for the proposed Blossom Ridge senior development. Afterward, the board approved the preparing of a package and cover letter to submit to the Oakland County Coordinating Zoning Committee, which will include issues raised and addressed in the process of considering the rezoning development of Blossom Ridge. The motion also rescinded the direction to submit an inquiry to the Michigan Attorney General.
       In other business, the Board of Trustees:
       • Approved the introduction and first reading amending Ordinance 37A to add the George Farmstead on 825 Mead Road as a historic district.
       • Appointed David Phillips to fill a vacancy on the Historic District Commission (HDC), term to expire May 2015.
       • Approved permission for the HDC to research the Paint Creek Cider Mill and millrace as a National Register of Historic Places nomination and possibly a local historic district.
       • Approved a request for Final Site Condominium approval for Applewood Meadows, located south of Snell and east of Oak Arbor Drive.
       • Approved a request for Tentative Preliminary Site Condominium approval for Oakland Crest, located at the southeast intersection of Rochester Road and Gunn Road.
       • Approved the federal low-moderate income level standards for use by the Board of Review.
       • Adopted the policy to allow residents to appeal by letter to the Board of Review.
       • Appointed Township Trustee Judy Keyes as the Oakland Township representative to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, with Township Supervisor Terry Gonser as alternate.
       • Approved a proposal from CMNTV to provide services for cable and webcast of township meetings, video equipment and installation.
       • Approved a contract with the Oakland County Sherriff's Department to provide fire dispatch service for the Oakland Township Fire Department.
       • Approved proposals for providing township legal services and scheduled a special meeting to interview candidates.
       • Heard public comment on the 2013-2014 fiscal year budgets. Adoption of the resolution approving the budgets is scheduled for March 12, 2013.
       • Approved a proposal to request bids for web design companies for updating the township's website.
       • Approved the formation of a subcommittee to benchmark policies, procedures, mission statements and other procedures deemed necessary to assimilate for collecting data and gap analysis.

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