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Pay-to-Play: Royal Oak is for Sale to Special Interests

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.

Find the plan details here:

Consider the following Pay-to-Play scheme:

6. This bad proposal is being considered because the developer has hired the “Political Donation Dream Team,” which is Mayor Fournier’s and the Commission’s two most frequent political contributors to represent him – Krieger Klatt Architects and attorney/former Royal Oak mayor Dennis Cowan (of Plunkett Cooney, PC).

7. In a single night, Fournier took $7,100 at just one fundraiser hosted by Cowan on July 13, 2023 — more than any of the opposing candidates raised for the November 2023 election. Most of the money was from developers of projects that he voted to approve in the past or was about to vote on including the 4704 S. Rochester Rd. project developer Anthony Randazzo, owner/petitioner of Trowbridge Homes Construction, LLC. These projects are often represented by Cowan and Krieger.

8. Fournier`s other approved projects received neighborhood objections and did not meet the criteria for rezoning, just like the Rochester Road project. A PUD allows wider discretion for the politicians to ignore the neighborhood concerns.

9. When political contributors are representing a petitioner, the rezoning is often approved by Fournier and the commission.

10. Furthermore, the public needs to know more about Fournier’s unethical conduct: 

a. Fournier took money from Cowan, the PAC that is run by his law firm, and Cowan`s developer clients and Krieger. Approximately 90% if the money he takes is from special interests — not from grassroots residents or neighbors. 

b. Public records reveal that approximately 10 projects represented by Cowan received Fournier`s vote for approval. Fournier never voted no. Fournier also took money from most of the petitioners he approved. 

c. Fournier gifted the most valuable the parking lot for $1took money from the developer of the Henry Ford building after the developer received the most valuable piece of city land for $1 and $5 million of taxpayer cash. 

d. Fournier has violated campaign reporting laws more frequently than anyone else. In fact, county records show 44 notices of violations, including 6 letters alerting the Attorney General of violations. 

e. The extent of violations shows deception. His intent to cover up his tracks creates moral and ethical violations.

f. Even worse, other City Commission members have adopted the pay-to-play scheme and have taken money from developers.

Commission members falsely claimed that mislabeled community benefits are provided by the project, as if a bike rack or a solar panel that is only big enough to power a porch light justify violating the zoning ordinance and neighborhood concerns. They create excuses for approving bad projects to draw attention away from the real reasons they vote to approve which is the money they take from special interests.

The public is smart and recognizes this. The commission is not fooling anyone this time.

Below are highlights of Pay-to-Play in Royal Oak.

For a full report, see this 45-page PDF. ->

Source for Fournier campaign finance filings on the Oakland County website:

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