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January 4, 2013

WB rejects Planning Commission picks, creates taskforce

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Competing visions about the future of West Bloomfield’s Planning Commission contributed to a failed Township Board of Trustees vote to appoint two new members to the panel Dec. 17.



During the meeting, township Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste spoke about the four members of the seven-member commission who were up for possible reappointment or replacement: Karmen Santourian, Don Jackson, Nancy Reed and Steven Budaj. 

Ureste said she wanted to consider putting some fresh people on the commission, in order to help bring new businesses and economic development to the township. She said some Planning Commission members have served for more than a decade.

“This is such a big decision, and there’s been the same people in place,” she said. “They have done a laudable job, and I greatly appreciate them, but we do have some resources, some applicants, who really want this opportunity.”

Ureste presented a motion to keep Santourian and Jackson, and appoint two nominees, Gerard Wilcox and Eric Glick, to the other spots for terms ending in 2016.

Both nominees spoke before the township board. Wilcox cited his MBA in financial management and his time working for Fortune 100 companies.

Glick, 46, talked about his interest in the community and his long-term affiliation with the Greater West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce. He also described his professional experience as an attorney.

“My legal background gives me an opportunity to hit the ground running,” he said.

Before Glick spoke, Trustee Larry Brown said he was not ready to make any changes to the Planning Commission because he felt that the township needs to do more soul searching on where it’s going.

He said he believes that diversity on the Planning Commission should include professional expertise, in addition to race and religion.

“We now have two real estate people sitting on there, technically, and two attorneys sitting on there, technically,” he said.

“And a lot of people who have been brought to this board have been attorneys, and I feel that it’s inappropriate to put a lot of legal beagles onto our Planning Commission. It needs to have other types of people on there.”

Ureste’s motion to reappoint Santourian and Jackson and appoint Wilcox and Glick failed 3-4. Ureste, Trustee Steven Kaplan and Treasurer Teri Weingarden voted yes; Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy and trustees Brown, Howard Rosenberg and Diane Rosenfeld Swimmer voted no, which leaves the commission unchanged.



On a related note, the township board voted 6-1 to approve a new downtown overlay district taskforce, with Kaplan voting no.

The topic came up after Brown said he wanted to know where the township is going in its long-term vision. He mentioned the downtown overlay district along Orchard Lake Road as an issue.

Rosenberg proposed that the township board create a taskforce to review the overlay district and report back in four months with possible proposed changes to the overlay district ordinance. The final motion proposed that he, Brown, Ureste, Santourian, Budaj and an additional West Bloomfield resident would sit on the panel.

Kaplan opposed the motion and said the township has historically submitted all requests to the amendment committee of the Planning Commission. But Weingarden approved of Rosenberg’s idea.

“I think this will help us get … our master plan back on track,” she said.

Learn more about West Bloomfield at www.wbtwp.com or by calling (248) 451-4800.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.