[Meeting review:] updated November 30, 2015

This evening's discussion of Bylaws Article XI, which requires Public Notice of Attempts to Change the PC Bylaws, turned on a disquieting assertion by Commissioner Mark Stanalajczo:

"The public doesn't have any input on how we're functioning here."

 "The public doesn't have any input on how we're functioning here."

  • Click the LiveQuotation link to watch Stanalajczo say it in a YouTube window.  If you can stomach watching any more, the meeting video will roll forward from that point. For those who want to hear the context of his assertion, the PC discussion of Article XI began here.
  • Here is the complete LiveAgenda for the November 18, 2015 meeting. 

The context of Stanalajczo's comment was the discussion about eliminating the Bylaws Article XI requirement that the PC notify the public with a newspaper notice every time the PC attempts to change the Bylaws.  Stanalajczo says that that the public is sufficiently notified by stapling a typed note to the Township Hall bulletin board.  Those bulletins can be read from about three feet away.

How did we arrive here?  At a previous meeting, soon after new Planner Leah DuMouchel disappointed several Planning Commissioners with her incisive analysis of the two recent Northfield Township Community Surveys, Iaquinto or Stanalajczo publically snubbed her and asked Manager Fink to prepare a list of recommendations regarding "updating" the Bylaws.  Fink tried to include DuMouchel in his assent to their demands.  His recommendations are in a letter included in this week's packet.

With Fink's comments in mind, Planner Leah DuMouchel proposed the following change to section XI of the Bylaws. 

2015 11 18 Bylaws Article XI rex clip

From section XI of the Planner's "Bylaws Review II," dated 2015-11-12, pages 4-6 of this meeting's packet.

This issue was not precisely resolved.  The final comment was Chairperson Chockley's, suggesting public notice on the front page of the Township website.

Here's the transcription of the start of that discussion, which immediately follows Planner DuMouchel's introduction of the item: [a LiveAgenda link]

Commissioner Stanalajczo: "I have a problem with that whole section.  The reason that we're actually sitting down and doing this whole procedure is to update and clarify some of the things that are uh grey or basically say this is how we're going to be functioning as a planning commission.  Ok?  So, I don't see why it is that we are, we have to go through the process like this, because we are going to amend how we are going to manage ourselves.  I don't see the point of going through; it's almost as if this is a public hearing, when in fact this isn't about what the public - the public doesn't have any input on how we're functioning here.  This isn't ... this is how we have determined that we're going to function as a group.  I don't believe that it rises to the level of a public hearing, which is what this does.  Especially if you want to end up amending one section or changing something, ... we've got to go through and jump through these hoops to change it.  I think we should have up having for amendments, are to be proposed and then, uh, considered before the board just like any other action item. I don't see the point in having that whole thing in there."


Planner DuMouchel: "well, most of the section is for the commissioners own protection and benefit, so, it talks about needing the vote of two thirds of the commission and so that the commissioners have fifteen days to review the proposed changes.  So, I think that's most of it.  Um, the portion about the public, as a public body I don't see why they wouldn't at least be offered the opportunity to read a rule change.  I mean, taking out the... this is no longer coming to them, I mean, they have to come to Township Hall to read or care enough to either read the minutes or stop by."


Commissioner Stanalajczo: "They can, like any other meeting that we have they are notified through an Agenda that's posted, that the action item's gonna be taking place that day.  I don't see why it needs to have a certain over and above, this isn't this is just our laws and our rules on how we're conducting business.  So the public can be notified like they do any other action item we have here, through our Agenda and posting it."


Chairperson Chockley: "Well I'd like to say that parts of this bylaws affect the public considerably, such as like if all of a sudden we decided that we wanted to go to a majority vote for the Master Plan... and I think that the public is interested in seeing that ... cause who reads a newspaper anymore, but we should put it on the homepage of our website at least fifteen days ahead of time and post it in general view of the Township Hall, in the Township Hall.  I have a value of wanting the public to participate in Township matters, so I don't have any problem with letting you know that.  And you know publishing it in a paper, ok, you know, but I do believe in a two thirds vote, I do believe in posting it on the homepage of the website, so, is everyone ok with that?"

Stanalajczo's intense interest in reducing Public awareness of Planning Commission actions has not been limited to consideration of the Bylaws.  He was also behind the campaign to reduce the content of the PC meeting minutes.


Earlier in the meeting. 

Article 8, section 6 of the Bylaws now require the concurrence of six Commissioners to amend the Master Plan.  Five votes would constitute a supermajority.  A simple majority vote is all that's required by State Law.  The law is misstated in the extract from Fink's letter which follows.

Manager Fink introduced the issue in the following paragraph, part of his recommendations included in the meeting packet.  He had previously raised the issue (twice) at the October 7th P.C. meeting, here and here. (LiveAgenda links)  That was before he was asked to prepare a list of recommendations.

2015 11 18 Fink on Master plan supermajority

- from Manager's correspondence, page 2 of the 2015-11-18 meeting packet

After much discussion, the P.C. approved amending Article 8.6 so that only a simple majority would be required to amend the Master Plan.  Iaquinto made the Motion.  Chockley and Chick voted no.

This proposed change will not go into effect unless the P.C. votes to approve the revised bylaws at a publically Noticed meeting.


Late in the evening, Commissioner Dignan proposed tabling the reopening of the Master Plan Process and notifying surrounding Townships of this fact.   No one seconded his motion.

As the meeting ended, during Comments from the Commissioners, Manager Fink bemoaned this newsblog's interpretation of his role in events.  He was, he said, simply laying out policy options.  He denied driving anything.  That may seem true from his perspective, but I suggest his argument is not with us.  We take our cues from what is done and said, in short, the facts.  The Township's Official 11/18/2015 PC Agenda gives Fink full credit for proposing the Bylaws amendments:

2015 11 18 Agenda Fink Proposed Bylaw changes

11/18/2015 Planning Commission Agenda, retrieved from Township website on 12/1/2015


  • Click here to watch discussions of individual Agenda items with LiveAgenda
  • Click here to view or download the Meeting Agenda
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