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The asphalt addicts just keep on pushing.

At the May 12th Board of Trustees meeting, our Township Manager will recommend hiring a company to "survey" Northfield Township residents.  We already know what he wants: the freedom to turn farmland and rural countryside, your Township and your neighborhood, into cookie-cutter, Canton-like suburbs.

Is this survey important?  Yes.  If Planning Commissioner Mark Stanalajczo gets his way, this survey will be the only community and public input into the next Master Plan.

He says because the 2012 Master Plan was so recently completed, community opinions will not have changed.  That's pretty weird reasoning when you think about it.  It's actually a reason to leave the 2012 Master Plan as is.  That is, if you're actually revisiting the Master Plan for the community's benefit - and not that of a particular developer or speculator.   (Youtube clip  and  transcript of the March 4, 2015 meeting where he said it.)

There is supposedly only one bid to perform the Survey.  One.  It's in the meeting packet or you can download it here.  (500KB pdf)

The "lone bidder," Cobalt Community Research, is partnered with a Royal Oak Public Relations Firm, Douglas Communications.

Bullet Point #2 on the Douglas website:

 "Overcome community opposition".

Sharlan Douglas' professional history: Chamber of Commerce type cheerleading for growth, sprawl, asphalt, and taxes in suburban Detroit.  Is this what we want?

"Sharlan and her team have a unique ability to filter information, to find the essence of your story and tell it in a concise, compelling way, at the right time to the right people, through the channels they prefer."

Will they just filter out the "community opposition"?

How is it possible that Cobalt & Douglas were deemed unbiased by our Board and Planners?

Douglas is in the business of selling what local government wants to SELL the public.

The Planning Commission and Township Board of Trustees seemed very impressed that Cobalt is a "non-profit." But that doesn't mean it's unbiased or that it works for free.  For decades, the National Football League (NFL) has been a non-profit.  Nobody ever accused them of giving it away.  In Cobalt's case, is it a non-profit because the owners take all the company's profits as salary?  Is it because the principle, William SaintAmour, still works for the Michigan Employee Retirement System and wants to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest?  Or is it simply clever Salesmanship, to give their potential clients warm and fuzzy feelings?  I don't know.  What we do know is that Township Manager Fink is determined to fast-track this process.

Maybe that's because he's still meeting with Biltmore.

If our Township Board hires Cobalt & Douglas, as the only bidder in this over-hurried process, then we'll have our answer as to whether the community's honest opinion is what they're after.

We'd love to see you at tomorrow's meeting.  If nothing else, come to the May 12th meeting to show the flag.   The pro-suburb crowd believes that people who care about our countryside are a minority and will be easily pushed out of their way.  Show up and show them your voice.