Reports show building permits, assessed values on the rise

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 30, 2018

Screenshot taken from the West Bloomfield township website

WEST BLOOMFIELD — A wealth of information about how the township operates awaits residents, according to township officials. 

“These reports, prepared twice per year by our department heads, really are a gold mine of information for our residents who want to know what our departments are doing,” said Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan, referring to the township departments’ biannual reports, which were submitted for approval to the Board of Trustees July 23. “They do show that our staff is working diligently.” 

The Assessing Department completed the 2018 Assessment Roll, which was submitted by Township Assessor Robert Scripture and is a result of the entire department working together on property assessments, site inspections and data collection, among other things. 

The total assessed value of all West Bloomfield’s properties is $4.46 billion. That includes commercial, industrial, residential and personal properties. That makes the taxable value for the township $3.5 billion. 

Bruce Eck, director of the Building Department, said permit activity during the first half of 2018 included a 15.3 percent decrease from the same period of 2017, but the decrease was to be expected due to a late spring start in building activity. 

The township issued 2,490 total permits: 25 single-family residential permits, eight multi-family residential permits, one new commercial permit, 268 for residential additions or alterations, 474 zoning permits, and 28 commercial additions or alterations, as well as hundreds of trade permits. 

For the first time, the Clerk’s Department submitted a biannual report to the township. 

“We have the implementation of a Clerk’s Office biannual report,” said Township Clerk Debbie Binder. “(It) keeps the township and the public apprised of what we do. ... You’ll learn what we do and some interesting facts about (the Clerk’s Office).” 

In 2018, the department expanded its passport acceptance hours, which saw a 22 percent increase in the number of passports accepted. General services increased 51 percent since the previous year, which includes the expansion of passport acceptance hours, copies, maps, election labels and Freedom of Information Act-related items.     

Code Enforcement Department activities during the first half of 2018 were similar to those in 2017, with a slight increase in the total number of cases at 802, compared to 779 at the same time the previous year. 

Erik Beauchamp, code enforcement manager, said the department continues to focus on property maintenance, blight and outdoor storage. 

The Development Services Department is keeping in line with the number of permits, meetings, notices, cases and reviews logged as compared to previous years. The department is working on a number of both engineering and environmental projects throughout the rest of the calendar year. 

Finance Department Director Katherine Ghannam said the department spent much of the first half of 2018 focused on the 2017 financial audit, along with other year-end activities. The department also began 10-year capital projections. 

West Bloomfield Fire Chief Greg Flynn said plans are moving forward with construction of the new Fire Station 3. The station had a number of vacancies throughout the first half of the year, and he plans to conduct interviews through the end of the month. 

The Human Resources Department hired 12 new employees in the first half of the year after one employee retired, seven were promoted or transferred, and 11 either resigned or were terminated. Two hundred applications were received for a litany of open positions, and 78 interviews were held. 

Information Technology Director Harry Palmer said the department is in good shape. The first half of the year saw computer upgrades and a move to newer software. 

Many of the department’s goals for the year are in progress or have been completed, including security and scheduling systems as well as an entire website refresh. 

Planning Department Director Amy Neary said the department received 20 applications for site plan reviews, six of which required review by the Planning Commission. There were two requests for solar waivers from residents wishing to install solar panels on their homes, one request for a planned unit development senior living complex and one planned rezoning overlay for a 249-single-family-home development. 

West Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Patton reported that so far in 2018, there have been 737 “Part I” crimes, which are crimes defined by the FBI as the most serious offenses; 129 “Part II” crimes, which are less serious but still significant; 11,384 “Part III” crimes, which are all other crimes or incidents, including alarms, complaints and traffic offenses; and 1,032 accidents, including traffic accidents and property damage incidents.

“These reports are always outstanding,” said Township Treasurer Teri Weingarten. “When I look at them, it makes me think I need to up my game.” 

The board voted unanimously to approve all biannual reports from the township departments. 

Click to view the reports from July 23.