An Oakland County sheriff’s deputy handcuffs former Troy City Manager Brian Kischnick in 52-2 District Court in Clarkston March 27.

An Oakland County sheriff’s deputy handcuffs former Troy City Manager Brian Kischnick in 52-2 District Court in Clarkston March 27.

File photo by Deb Jacques


Shock at City Hall, redevelopment and a purr-fect police post shape Troy in 2018

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published January 2, 2019

 Megan Wallis, left, Madelyn Young and Sara Lewandowski, all 11th-graders and former students, congratulate Morse Elementary School second-grade teacher Ed Segovia in his classroom Feb. 14. They each nominated him for Troy School District Teacher of the Year.

Megan Wallis, left, Madelyn Young and Sara Lewandowski, all 11th-graders and former students, congratulate Morse Elementary School second-grade teacher Ed Segovia in his classroom Feb. 14. They each nominated him for Troy School District Teacher of the Year.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

 Kate McFarland, front, Carmen Cavaio and Liaden Lennon, first-graders at Wass Elementary School, say goodbye to students and staff June 15, the last day of school.

Kate McFarland, front, Carmen Cavaio and Liaden Lennon, first-graders at Wass Elementary School, say goodbye to students and staff June 15, the last day of school.

File photo by Donna Agusti

 Pawfficer Donut appears in uniform to be sworn in to serve and purr-tect in the new Troy Police Feline Unit at the Troy Police Department May 11.

Pawfficer Donut appears in uniform to be sworn in to serve and purr-tect in the new Troy Police Feline Unit at the Troy Police Department May 11.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Beverly Furnar, of Troy, buys tomato plants from Greg Phinney, of Clinton Township, at the first-ever Troy Farmers Market in the Troy Public Library parking lot June 1.

Beverly Furnar, of Troy, buys tomato plants from Greg Phinney, of Clinton Township, at the first-ever Troy Farmers Market in the Troy Public Library parking lot June 1.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

 Troy police honor guard members unveil the Troy Police Memorial Badge Monument in front of the Troy Police Department July 25.

Troy police honor guard members unveil the Troy Police Memorial Badge Monument in front of the Troy Police Department July 25.

File photo by Deb Jacques

 Milan Jackson, a kindergartner at Schroeder Elementary School, chats with her father, Martex, on the playground on the first day of school Aug. 28.

Milan Jackson, a kindergartner at Schroeder Elementary School, chats with her father, Martex, on the playground on the first day of school Aug. 28.

File photo by Deb Jacques

 The view through a construction barricade shows Dequindre Road being widened to five lanes from Burningbush Drive to Long Lake Road in August.

The view through a construction barricade shows Dequindre Road being widened to five lanes from Burningbush Drive to Long Lake Road in August.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

 Raindrops cover a dog-headed scarecrow created by the Troy Veterinary Hospital, one of the 50 scarecrows that line the fence along Livernois Road at the Troy Historic Village for the Step Into Autumn Kickoff Sept. 28.

Raindrops cover a dog-headed scarecrow created by the Troy Veterinary Hospital, one of the 50 scarecrows that line the fence along Livernois Road at the Troy Historic Village for the Step Into Autumn Kickoff Sept. 28.

File photo by Brandy Baker

TROY — Development gains and pains, criminal charges and a shakeup in the city manager’s office, and a police cat that captured the pulse of the city made headlines in Troy in 2018.

While former City Manager Brian Kischnick garnered many headlines last year, the installation of the Feline Unit at the Troy Police Department exploded on social media and the story was picked up by police departments and news outlets around the world.

City leaders grappled with the rights of property owners to develop land purchased from private owners and the Troy School District, and some residents say it disrupted the character of neighborhoods.

Here’s a look back on these and other issues that made an impact in Troy in 2018.

 

Council fires city manager after he is charged with domestic assault
The City Council fired City Manager Brian Kischnick in a special meeting Sunday, March 11. The council appointed Mark Miller as interim city manager, then as city manager after interviewing three finalist candidates — which Miller was not actually among — after spirited discourse Nov. 19.

The council unanimously terminated Kischnick with cause, which means he gets no severance. He was hired in 2012.

The decision came two days after police reported that Kischnick had spent the night in jail in the city he was hired to manage after he was arrested following what police said was a domestic assault incident at a home on Chocolay Avenue in Clawson at about 10:30 p.m. March 9.

He pleaded no contest to domestic violence in 52-2 District Court April 16 and was sentenced to 15 months probation and 30 days jail time held in abeyance.

Kischnick came under scrutiny in July 2016 for issues involving a car accident with a city vehicle, as well as questionable moves involving a vendor, the purchase of phone accessories and the city manager’s car allowance.

He pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from a pavement contractor, a felony that carries up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. District Court Judge Nanci Edmunds accepted Kischnick’s plea Aug. 22. He will be sentenced Jan. 16.

 

Residents fear new development will change character of neighborhoods
The Troy City Council unanimously approved a rezoning request and a cluster zoning site plan for Whispering Park, a 50-home development proposed for an 18-acre parcel of vacant land known as Section 11 at a May 21 meeting.

The Troy School District previously had owned the parcel, located near Long Lake Road, between John R and Rochester roads, but never developed it.

After a study on demographics and building usage, Troy School District officials and the Board of Education determined that undeveloped district-owned parcels of land — about 180 acres in total, including Section 11 — will not be needed for any additional schools, with the exception of a proposed early childhood learning center.

The school board voted 4-0 in June 2017 to approve a purchase agreement for Section 11 with Joe Maniaci, of Mondrian Properties, for $4.25 million.

Maniaci plans to offer 1,900- square-foot ranches; 2,100-square-foot, 1 1/2-story homes; and 2,750-square-foot colonials. Lot sizes will range from 6,600 square feet to 12,603 square feet. In his other, similar developments, Maniaci said that the home prices start at $500,000.

Residents expressed concerns over the wildlife that lived on the parcel.

In a different project, the Troy City Council will consider the conditional rezoning of 1.2 acres along Rochester Road, north of Long Lake Road, after the Planning Commission recommended approval of the plan and rezoning.

The Planning Commission voted 6-2 to recommend approval of the preliminary site plan and the conditional rezoning from one-family residential to one-family attached residential zoning at its Nov. 27 meeting, which includes a curb cut on Sylvanwood Drive.

OHM Advisors, the city’s traffic consultant, determined that the proposed development — three 2 1/2-story buildings, each with three or four units, for a total of 10 units — would generate minimal traffic impact.

Residents spoke in opposition to the plans, citing concerns of increased traffic and a bad fit for the neighborhood.

In another proposed development, the Planning Commission voted 7-1 to recommend approval of a cluster zoning development Aug. 14 for a project just under 8 acres on the south side of Ottawa Drive, in a subdivision north of Square Lake Road, between Rochester and Livernois roads.

By right, without using the cluster zoning option, the developer, Gary Abitheira, could build 13 homes on the site, but he submitted a plan to build 16 homes under the cluster zoning option, which offers density bonuses for restricting the housing unit size to 1,500 square feet and for sustainable designs — including green infrastructure and naturalized stormwater management — and it requires the developer to preserve 20 percent open space.

There are two existing homes on the parcel that are slated for removal, one for a private roadway, which a number of residents opposed.

Over a dozen residents spoke during the Aug. 14 public hearing. Concerns centered on drainage — a current problem — increased traffic, the impact of the new road on the existing neighborhood, and lots that are smaller than those of the homes in the area.

The minimum lot size for homes in the proposed plan is 8,400 square feet.

Colonial home sizes on adjacent Ottawa Drive range from 1,900 to 5,600 square feet, with ranches at about 1,600 square feet. Abitheira said he would offer colonials ranging from 3,700 square feet to 2,600 square feet, and 2,000-square-foot ranches.

To the east of the proposed development, the lots are 125 feet by 700 feet, or over 2 acres.

Lot sizes to the north and to the west vary widely, from 110 to 150 feet wide, and from 200  to 380 feet deep.

 

Troy Police Department Feline Unit draws ‘appaws’
A different cat than expected swore to purr-tect and serve the Troy Police Department May 11.

Judges Kirsten Nielsen Hartig and Maureen McGinnis of the 52-4 District Court stepped away from their courtrooms that afternoon to swear in Pawfficer Donut at the Troy Police Department.

The department is active on Facebook and Twitter, and in the spring, police said they would add a Feline Unit if 10,000 people followed them on Twitter.

They hit that number, and Troy police Sgt. Meghan Lehman purr-suaded police administrators to establish the Feline Unit.

Troy police selected a new police cat from kittens the Michigan Humane Society brought to police headquarters the morning of May 11. Their first pick, Pawfficer Badges, was later diagnosed with feline leukemia.

She is reportedly doing well at Leuk’s Landing, which Leona Foster founded in Ann Arbor in 2007.

Pawfficer Donut stepped in and made her first visit at the Troy Police Department Coffee with a Cop Nov. 9.

Lehman said that, so far, Pawfficer Donut has visited a number of schools and Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Troy, as part of her duties.

When not on duty, Pawfficer Donut resides with two other cats and a Troy Police Department service aide.