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4704 S. Rochester Rd.,
Approved by a 6-1 Planning Commission vote
On April 9, 2024:

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 (of 10 years) and former city commissioner Tom Hallock stated at public comment that former mayor and attorney Dennis Cowan of Plunkett Cooney, who is representing this project, 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, Hallock stated that Cowan had just held a major fundraiser for the mayor, attended by developers, a couple of weeks earlier at D'Amato's. It was further stated that, due to ethical concerns, the mayor should have recused himself from that evening's vote about the project. Despite that, Mayor Fournier refused to recuse himself, and a large crowd strongly objected.

Now the same project was back on the agenda April 9, 2024. But in the interim, three significant events occurred:

  1. Unfortunately for the public, even more political contributions have been 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 Commission has failed to take any action to create ethical rules and regulations regarding the conduct of Planning Commission members.

  3.  Just 24 hours previously on April 8, 2024, a similar overly dense project on 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 that project and the Rochester Road one was that Dennis Cowan, architect Krieger or any other significant political contributor were not involved. Being a political contributor is not one of the criteria for granting PUD rezoning. In addition, just days before the Planning Commission meeting, Mayor Fournier and the Planning Commission accepted an 11th hour document from Dennis Cowan entitled “Compliance with PUD Standards” but the document did not contain facts or competent evidence to support the PUD. Rather, it was like putting lipstick on a pig.

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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