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The Royal Oak City Commission Ignored the Residents Again
After Taking Political Donations from the Developer
and Allowed 42 Units Instead of the 16 Maximum

In August 2023, this same project at 4704 S. Rochester Rd. was on the Planning Commission meeting agenda. It was adjourned after former Planning Commission chairman (for 10 years) and former city commissioner Tom Hallock stated at public comment that project attorney former mayor and attorney Dennis Cowan of Plunkett Cooney is a major contributor to Mayor Mike Fournier as well as many of the clients that he brings in front of the Planning Commission — in fact, it was stated that Cowan had just held a major fundraiser attended by developers for the mayor on July 13, 2023, at D'Amato's (Go to Pay-to-Play page for more information). It was further stated that, due to ethical concerns, the mayor should have recused himself from that evening's public vote about the project. Despite this, Mayor Fournier refused to recuse himself, and a large crowd strongly objected.

Now the same project was just approved by a 7-0 vote at the June 10, 2024 City Commission meeting, but since the August 2023 meeting, three significant events happened:
1.    Unfortunately for the public, even more political contributions were accepted by the mayor and other elected officials from these same constant contributors who inevitably get what they want while the neighborhoods suffer.
2.    The Planning and City Commissions failed to take any action to create ethical rules and regulations regarding the conduct of commissioners.
3.    On April 8, 2024, a similar project at 718 W. 4th Street that didn’t even come close to meeting the criteria for PUD rezoning was denied by the City Commission – the only significant difference between the project that was denied and this Rochester Road one is that the mayor and commissioners did not take money from the developers or members of his professional team. Being a political contributor is not one of the criteria for anyone to vote for approval.

The 4-story high-density, small-unit rental apartment proposed project at 4704 S. Rochester Rd. (former bank building) will bring overflow parking, traffic, noise and reduced property values to the adjacent neighborhood.
 
The project at 4704 S. Rochester Rd. that no other city would approve includes:
1. 42 tiny 6oo-sq.-ft. apartments packed into a 4-story building on a parcel that only allows 16 units.
2. 42 dwelling units require a 129,000 square foot parcel; this parcel is merely 52,000 square feet.
3. No room for sufficient parking, green space or any amenities for residents or children.
4. Unattractive exterior design with tiny apartments that are similar to motel rooms, too small for families and not conducive to the elderly downsizing. The external stairways and absence of elevators make this project reminiscent of New York tenement buildings. 
5. The petitioner doesn't provide the required evidence that this project won't cause an economic loss to existing property owners nor is there evidence to meet any of the criteria for approval.

Find the plan details here: https://www.romi.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06102024-3385

Unfortunately for the adjacent neighborhood, they are faced with a horrible project that does not meet any of the legal criteria for rezoning to a PUD. It becomes even more apparent that the only rule that applies is the one regarding pay-to-play in Royal Oak since Mayor Fournier and Commissioner Shar Douglas led the discussion, discounting objections from dozens of nearby neighbors, and convincing other planning commissioners that benefits their political contributors.
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