Building on Property 10795 Whittaker Road
Amid our pastoral farmland, an OUTLAW (unsanctioned by the AMA) motorcycle club resides in the heart of the village of
Whittaker since the beginning of the year. Surrounded by residents. You can imagine how well that all works together. You would think the township supervisor,
planning commission, planner and zoning
administrator would have taken that under consideration. Nope. The building owner's son is a good friend with the supervisor, with all aforementioned officials and
zoning contractor being directed by the supervisor. Robert Blackmon (son) needs the money you see, so heck with the neighbors or the township. And being such a good pal
to Supervisor Hafler, Blackmon also got appointed to the Planning Commission Board. Lest you think I am being too hard on Blackmon (or Pete for appointing him for
that matter), you can read his qualified resume for the position
When I heard a motorcycle club had come to town housed right down from the township hall
and fire station, with residential housing all around, I wondered how that could have happened. It turns out that property is zoned local commerial, along with eight
lots across the street. The rest of the properties that are surrounding the building renting to the club are zoned rural residential - including directly north and
south of the motorcycle club.
A mixed bag of uses that you would think would be carefully managed. You know, the pertinent officials and zoning vendor would put some thought
into managing it properly for all involved.
So that is all pretty clear to me. I was told that the building was used for an auto repair shop and now Blackmon
was renting to a motorcycle club. So I FOIA'ed for the Site Plan Review, right? This is what I got back:
What?? No site plan review?? Please note in the clerk's response she notifies both the supervisor and the
zoning administrator, Ralph Pasola of this. So then I FOIA'ed for the certificate of Zoning Compliance. How could they have that without the site plan
review being done? Here is what I got back:
The certificate was awarded without a site plan review as required by our Zoning Ordinances. Laura Kreps, says in her email
to Jerry Chie (Planning Commission Chair) that "The current ordinance requires submission of a site plan for all changes in use. We feel this is burdensome when no
site improvements are proposed." It does not say anything in our zoning ordinance that a site plan review can be waived if Carlisle Wortman thinks it burdensome
when no site improvements are proposed. Remember, that the Chair of the Planning Commission, nor anyone else, has the authority to waive a REQUIREMENT of the ordinance.
But wait. It gets even better. Remember, my FOIA request was sent in near the end of April. Next, I found out about this.
Yes, you are reading correctly. My FOIA requests have now prompted Carlisle Wortman to attempt to change the
zoning ordinance to fall in line with what they just told me was true in the ordinance. Which wasn't/isn't true. I was dumbfounded to think they would now
try to change the ordinance to cover their lie. But, yup, that is exactly what they were attempting to do. So I wrote a letter to the BOT and Carlisle Wortman. Do you think I got
any kind of response? Nope.
So, myself and some others attended that Planning Commission Meeting, and at least enough questions were raised
about this change, including a very shocking speech by a nearby resident of this club, that made the PC board send Laura Kreps (planner for Carlisle Worman)
back to the drawing board. I truly believe if we were not in attendance, this change would have went through without the PC being none the wiser.
Which brings me to what is really happening here. Our supervisor, Mr. Hafler is supposed to be the official that enforces our ordinances. It is interesting to note that the supervisor screamed bloody murder when his tasks were reassigned by board members to others for his non-performance of some of his duties. Yet he has no qualms about others doing his job for him so long as he gets to pick who does it. He doesn't have a lot of interest in doing the work, he just wants to feel he has the "say so" and is the boss. He relies heavily on Carlisle Wortman to do a lot of tasks that either he should be doing, or should be monitoring as part of his statutory duties. Bob Blackmon, who is a good friend of the supervisor, has mentioned publicly he needs the money coming from the rent of this building. It is owned by his mother. So hey, let's help out a friend here, right?
But there are several problems with this. First of all, this is a commercially zoned area of which we don't have a lot of in the township. I would think if we are going utilize it to the benefit of the township, shouldn't we try to bring in a tax-paying business if we can? If we are going to change the ordinances wisely, perhaps we should look at permitted use and perhaps a "club" is not the wisest choice in a commercially zoned area. The Iron Coffins Motorcycle Club is a private club, who previously resided at 75 Catherine Street in Ypsilanti. They lost the building to foreclosure. Previous to their ownership the building was problematic with businesses operating there without occupancy permits and construction without permits. Apparently the ICMC did nothing to improve the situation and ended up a wash as well. The city now hopes to finally have ownership into the hands of a business that will bring in some tax revenue.
Ann Arbor New, 03/18/2013
Then there is the issue of it being a motorcycle club, of the outlaw kind. Go back to the top of this page and watch the video, again. Picture yourself living across the street from this club. I don't think I need to go into details, because I think you can imagine very well what that might be. How would YOU like it if this club moved in across the street from you, and you knew ordinances were violated to get them there? I don't think anyone would be very happy with that. I think most of us like to live here because it is rural, and traffic and noise is not like the city. Enough said. Our officials should be doing their job and be aware of how and why people live here, and plan and run the community accordingly, to everyone's benefit, not just for their friends.
Finally, the most disturbing part is this relationship with the supervisor and Carlisle Wortman, our zoning vendor. Ordinances were broken here. The supervisor knows it, Carlisle Wortman knows it, the BOT knows it, and now, you know it. Is this how we want our township officials and vendors to function?
I ask you. Is this right and is this fair? The really sad part is, there is more of this where this came from. Stay tuned...