Village council takes no action on petition requests or DDA bond sales motion

By Megan Kelley
Staff Writer
LAKE ORION — Lake Orion’s village council rejected two requests regarding the Downtown Development Authority during their meeting on Monday.
Both requests were presented to the council by Councilmember Michael Lamb who has been outspoken about his concerns with the DDA and its tax capture for more than a year now.
The first request was for the council to consider submitting petitions from resident Harry Stephen to electors of the village.
The petition in question is one from last year that circulated among village residents to repeal the ordinance that funds the DDA, but not fully disband it.
Stephen ran into several issues when submitting the petitions, wherein his first attempt did not have enough valid signatures and on his second attempt, failed to meet the filing deadline, the village officials claimed.
Because of this, the measure did not appear on the November ballot.
Lamb and Stephen however, have continued to bang the proverbial drum on the issue as it has been a regular topic of conversation at council meetings.
This is not the first request to have council take action on the issue with Stephen making a request in October 2022 for the council to either take action or hold a special election.
Should the measure go to a special election, village taxpayers would foot the bill.
Both of those requests ultimately failed with the council deciding not to take any action on the issue.
This time around, however, Lamb argued that the opinion given to council in October by attorney Niccolas Grochowski of Beier Howlett was in violation of village charter.
Lamb claimed that by village charter, the council either must repeal the ordinance referred to in the petition or send it to the electors; not taking action is a violation of charter.
With that, Lamb moved to send the petitions to village electors.
Several council members — President Jerry Narsh, President Pro-Tem Teresa Rutt and Councilmembers Carl Cyrowski and Ken Van Portfliet — spoke, recalling the conversation that occurred over the topic in October with some citing “stale signatures.”
To this, Lamb said he had done a good amount of research and had not found anything that stated signatures could even go stale.
With village attorney Mary Kucharek of Beier Howlett present, council was advised that in order for the action to be voted on a second time, new information would have to be available and the prevailing side from the vote in October would have to repeal their previous motions.
From there, Lamb withdrew his previous motion and made another motion to direct their attorney to clarify the issue of signature staleness and the issue of the repeal deadline, both of which Lamb says the council has never received a clear answer.
“Since it’s a local issue and not a big issue, our charter unfortunately doesn’t have any of the details of any of this information so the citizens are at a loss as to what to do,” Lamb said. “I would really like to get a little more guidance from the village attorney.”
Kucharek then spoke to give council her opinion on the motion, asking if the village wants to set the precedent of using their own funds to pay their attorney to give advice to a private citizen.
With this advice, Lamb immediately withdrew his motion.
The council then voted unanimously to receive and file the information.
Lamb’s next request was for the village council to adopt a resolution informing the DDA that the proposed bond sale by the village council is in violation of the village charter.
In recent months, the DDA has ventured on a new path toward fixing the issue of parking in the downtown with plans to purchase the lumber yard for $2.4 million and re-develop the property.
The DDA is also in the process of seeking a $5 million bond to pay for the project.
While the plan is still in the early stages of development, it has become a contentious issue that seems to run parallel to the petitions filed by Stephen months prior.
“The selling of bonds, supporting the sale of bonds, guaranteeing the sale of bonds to the DDA to buy and sell real estate; the DDA is a business activity. Under the state law, the DDA is allowed to conduct business activities, own businesses, purchase businesses, buy and sell property and pretty much do whatever they want. However, the village charter does not allow the village, which is a separate entity, to invest money in business enterprise in excess of $2,500 without going to a vote,” Lamb said.
Lamb also said that the DDA was planning on building a mixed-use development on the lot, and that the DDA was a separate entity that did not need the village in order to sell bonds.
Lamb’s motion to adopt a resolution to inform the DDA that the proposed bond sale by the village was in violation of the village charter was seconded by Councilmember Nancy Moshier.
Village Manger Darwin McClary clarified his opinion on the matter, stating that he did not believe that the DDA was a business enterprise.
Councilmember Sarah Luchsinger disagreed that buying and leasing properties did not equate to a business enterprise: however, she was relatively confident in her understanding that the bond could not be used to build a mixed-use development anyway.
A couple of residents rose to speak during public comment urging the council to have the DDA send the proposed bond sale to the voters.
Despite that, the council voted 5-2 against the motion.

3 Responses to "Village council takes no action on petition requests or DDA bond sales motion"

  1. Cory Johnston   January 11, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    It would seem that a majority of the village council do not want to listen to the public and are doing all they can to make sure the public has no vote on this matter. This is in keeping with the fact that the public has never voted to have a DDA, never voted on the tax capture that funds the DDA, does not vote for the DDA members, and has no vote on how the DDA spends taxpayer funds. In fact, the DDA uses tax revenue that was voted for other purposes like OCC because they capture all tax increases regardless of what the public votes the money for.
    A majority of the council somehow thinks this is fair, equitable, and democratic that many people have no vote, and their money goes to subsidize a very small portion of the Village of Lake Orion, the businesses in that area and the DDA’s ongoing marketing and promotion of itself.

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  2. roy   January 11, 2023 at 7:39 pm

    Cory, waite untile ALL the TAX ABATEMENT (10yrs) request’s for the NEXT 4-5 projects coming up for the rehab in the village, and please understand that the county considers the Village of Orion a SPEED BUMP to the traffic flow South and North bound on M-24, and Orion rd at East Flint and that is why we now have a round about there plus a new (round a bout at Stoney Creek-and Conklin – Orion rd. to move traffic faster thru the Village) and that will move the problem smack dab down town to Flint and Broadway and Flint and M-24 as the one lainer (Flint,Miller,and Orion rd) has already done, and still no more PARKING in/for down town use,but the P.C.wants to Build a new Parking structure next to fire station #1 (there’s anoughter project that probley want a 10yr T.A.) when there is a parking lot that takes up half a block right down town, BUILD on TOP of THAT. O well, could be the contracts are INKED and DRIED already, it has been 1yr to the day the first entry about the L.O.L. deal appered in print (review) and it is still in the maybe drawing stage (bet it will go) anoughter T.A. abatement call, could be the ink has dried on this one to. By-By and don’t for get to PAY your TAXE’S

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  3. Roy   January 12, 2023 at 6:15 pm

    C, WHO are the MEMBERS of the D.D.A.???? are they a member of the village???? do they have money instrest in the buy and sale of property in the village??? they should not have NO MORE than ONE PLATE at the COUNCEL TABLE. If they do, get up from the TABLE and hit a fast food rest. Same with the PLANNING COMMISION, do they have ANYTHING to do with the village councial, the dda,??? other than WEIRED thoughts, like MOVING FIRE STATION #! TO Atwater st boy-o-boy the village took a whippin on that one, BUT whoever bought property made out real good on that sale, then there is the perposed PVT,RES. ONLY boat launch off M-24, where the H did that B.F. come from??? then a NEW PARKING STRUCTION next to #1 fire station when there is a half blk size parking lot now 50 ft away not to smart, just add 2 stories to it, DONE! orrrrr sell the left over down town to the BIG $$$$ and let them build what ever they want to build (they are doing it now anyway with small slices at a time of the pie) and still NO PARKING go figure the good ol boys on the move.

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