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WHMI 93.5 FM Radio Station for Livingston County Michigan with News, Traffic, and Weather Service for Howell and Brighton

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    A county committee has deferred to the full board of commissioners its recommendation on who will be appointed to the Veterans Services Committee. The Board of Commissioners' Personnel Committee, made up of commissioners Bob Bezotte, Bill Green and Carol Griffith, interviewed five candidates Monday for two openings on the veterans committee, which has been the subject of headlines and a criminal investigation which concluded with no charges being filed. The five who were interviewed included current committee members Hansel Keane and Joe Riker, whose terms expire at the end of the month. Also interviewed were former County Commissioner Steve Williams, Michael Reeve and Jim Pratt. The Personnel Committee had been expected to make a recommendation as to which two should receive an appointment, but instead decided to forward all five applicants to the full board of commissioners for a decision at their December 17th meeting. Keene, who currently chairs the Veterans Services Committee, was the subject of a criminal investigation by the Michigan State Police after a donor said she could not get Keene to give her a receipt for her donation of $400 in cash and other items despite repeated requests. It later came to light that Keene had cashed the check into his personal account, a violation of county policy, while keeping a pair of floor cleaners and scrapping a riding lawnmower. The donor said Keene had assured her the items were donated as promised and were being utilized by county veterans. Keene eventually returned the floor cleaners and had his attorney, fellow committee member Kevin Nagle, provide receipts for the items as well as a check for the $400, which he said was used for a veterans plaque at the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office. Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt declined to pursue charges in the matter, saying there was, “insufficient evidence to justify any criminal charges…” (JK)

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    State grant funding has been made available to Livingston County to support medical marijuana education efforts. The Michigan Legislature has appropriated $3 million dollars for the Medical Marihuana Operation and Oversight Grants, which come from a fund created within the state treasury. The fund is the result of medical marijuana tax revenue from fees collected under Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Act. Counties that receive the grants are required to use them for medical marijuana education, communication and outreach programs. As the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation has not provided any other guidance aside from that broad description, it would be up to county officials to determine how the money would be utilized. That decision would be left up to Livingston County’s Health Officer and Director of Community Mental Health, should the county receive the grant that department heads are looking to apply for. County Administrator Ken Hinton says the grant cannot be used for law enforcement purposes due to a recent change in regulations that required the money to be earmarked for education efforts. The potential grant amounts are calculated based on the proportion of the number of cards that were issued or renewed in each county as of September 30th, 2018. Livingston County is eligible for $50,268 as there were a total of 2,689 patient registry cards issued or renewed last year. 360 patient registry cards were issued in 2018 and 2,329 cards were renewed. The Health Department would be the administrator of the grant and reporting requirements. A resolution seeking to apply for and accept the grant came before a Livingston County subcommittee Monday night. Committee members voted unanimously to recommend approval to the Finance committee and from there, the county’s Board of Commissioners. The county must apply for the grant by January 1st, otherwise the money will return to the state fund to be distributed among eligible communities. Counties that receive the funding will be required to submit financial status reports to LARA on three separate occasions in 2019. (DK)

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    Two employees at elementary schools within the Howell Public School district are being honored for their exceptional work in their respective roles. The district has selected Cindy Blackmar as its 2018-2019 Service Person of the Year, while Laura Williams has been named the 2018-2019 Support Person of the Year. Both Blackmar and Williams were presented with their awards this week. A committee of district stakeholders met November 27th to consider 17 nominations for Service Person of the Year and 19 nominations for Support Person of the Year. The Service Person of the Year award honors an outstanding paraprofessional, general education aide, copy clerk, mentor, hall monitor, food service employee or maintenance worker. Blackmar, who is this year’s recipient of the Service Person award, is a paraprofessional at Northwest Elementary. She works to build relationships and trust with the individual students she assists, learning about their interests and the things that bother them to help ensure student success. The Support Person of the year honors an exceptional secretary, main office clerk, library services coordinator, book-keeper or computer technician. This year’s recipient, Laura Williams, is the building secretary at Challenger Elementary. She is said to be known for offering warm greetings to visitors at the school while juggling the busy office environment. Williams is described as being very knowledgeable about district policies and guidelines, and that she is always willing to help any student, teacher or parent, even if the request falls outside of her job responsibilities. Blackmar and Williams will be honored at the district’s Board of Education meeting in February. Photos courtesy of Thomas Gould. Photo 1: Cindy Blackmar with Northwest Elementary principal Craig Munro Photo 2: Laura Williams

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    The Salvation Army of Livingston County is still in need of bell ringers to help meet this year’s Red Kettle campaign goal. There are two weeks left for the local Corps to meet this year’s red kettle goal of $385,000 and they are currently at 33% of that goal. Due to national agreements, the red kettles couldn’t go out until after Thanksgiving, which is much later than usual so Major Prezza Morrison says they came in to the red kettle drive already behind the game. She says last weekend was record breaking in that they were able to raise over $17,000. Morrison says she is continually amazed by people in the community who are always so kind and generous. Despite the favorable news, she says there are still a lot of locations left open because they don’t have enough bell ringers and there are two more weeks of opportunities to ring bells through 4pm on Christmas Eve. Morrison says those they help are neighbors, co-workers, family and friends - whether through utility assistance, sheltering, rent assistance, eviction diversion or Pathway of Hope casework program, clothing and household items, the food pantry or summer lunch bunch. Morrison says Livingston County always comes through and that’s heartening because it means the community knows the Salvation Army is good stewards of their money and they can trust that they will serve those in need in all of the different ways they do. Morrison says finding bell ringers has been more of a challenge this year, but they recognize that people are busy with family and work responsibilities – adding it’s also been colder than usual with limited sunny days, which can also hinder volunteers. Those who do ring usually dance or sing while manning the kettles and others dress up like Santa Claus to stay warm. Men and women from the Howell, Green Oak and Brighton Fire Departments will be out manning red kettles this weekend. While they certainly need volunteers, Morrison says they will also pay bell ringers who could use a little extra money with Christmas approaching. For those who might have a job but might be struggling, Morrison tells WHMI the Salvation Army will hire some bell ringers to fill in spots where volunteers aren’t signed up. Most Fridays and Saturdays are full but volunteers are always needed, especially in outlying areas like Fowlerville, Hartland, Pinckney and Hamburg. Volunteers and paid ringers are able to pick the day, time and site they want to ring. Morrison says they can really use people so those interested should just stop by their 503 Lake Street office in Howell Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm and fill out an application but remember to bring two forms of ID. Meanwhile, the Salvation Army and the Marine Corps League are getting ready for their big Christmas toy distribution event this weekend. Morrison says this is the final week that they will be collecting toys to be given out to those in need who pre-registered through the Salvation Army or Toys for Tots. Donations can be dropped off at the Salvation Army’s 503 Lake Street location in Howell. Although the registration deadline has passed for Christmas assistance, Morrison says if someone is in need they can still contact Toys for Tots or the Salvation Army after the distribution event Saturday. Last year, 532 households and 1,300 children were helped with almost 6,000 gifts given out. Further details about bell ringing and toy donations can be found through the link. (JM)

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    An attorney for owners of a closed Livingston County pet cemetery says the property is being put up for sale and a new owner will eventually determine the site's future. Heavenly Acres pet cemetery in Genoa Township closed after its lease expired Sept. 30. Township Supervisor Bill Rogers previously said there could be up to 74,000 animal remains buried at the 12-acre property. Shari Pollesch, an attorney representing Carol Street Park Ridge LLC, says the company is "sensitive to the concerns" of those with pets buried at the property. She says the company hopes to find a buyer "willing to continue to maintain the pet cemetery." Pollesch says pet owners can retrieve grave markers or pet remains after making arrangements through her firm. The cemetery had been operated by First Pet Care Services, LLC which had attempted to renegotiate the lease with the property's owner but was denied.(JK)

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    Tyrone Township officials have adopted an ordinance banning the sale of recreational marijuana within the municipality’s boundaries. It was a unanimous decision by the Board of Trustees at their December 4th meeting, just two days before recreational marijuana was decriminalized in Michigan. While local governing bodies do not have the ability to stop residents from using or growing marijuana, they can block marijuana-related establishments in their municipality. A number of communities in Livingston County have already done so, including the Village of Pinckney, the City of Howell, and Putnam, Hartland, Green Oak and Genoa Townships. Many officials from those municipalities have expressed similar thoughts about opting out of recreational facilities, citing the ambiguity surrounding the state’s new law and the regulatory framework that has yet to be developed. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or LARA, has until December 6th of 2019 to create those guidelines. Tyrone Township Supervisor Mike Cunningham believes the municipality has chosen to opt out for the same reason that many other communities have. Cunningham told WHMI, “We’d like to see how this shakes out. ..We don’t want to be the first one to jump off of a cliff and end up with a trainwreck.” The ordinance the board enacted is a regulatory ordinance, prompting the township’s Planning Commission to also discuss recreational marijuana regulations at their meeting Tuesday night. While the Planning Commission didn’t take any action, they have plans to consider how opting out will affect the township’s Zoning Ordinance and whether facilities should be permitted in one zoning district or excluded entirely. If the township ever decided to allow some of these establishments, they would be restricted by location. As a result, the zoning ordinance would have to clarify what districts the facilities would be permitted in. Chairman Mark Meisel says he’d rather amend the current zoning ordinance then have to repeal a regulatory ordinance and create a new zoning ordinance. (DK)

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    A Gregory man who worked at schools in Ingham County has been bound over for trial on charges alleging he sexually assaulted a teenage girl. 19-year-old Bradley Nowak of Gregory recently appeared for a hearing in 53rd District Court in Howell, where it was determined there was enough evidence to send his case to trial. Nowak was bound over to Livingston County Circuit Court on one count each of 3rd and 4th degree criminal sexual conduct force or coercion. Nowak originally had also faced one count each of 3rd and 4th degree criminal sexual conduct involving an incapacitated victim; however those charges were dismissed at Monday’s examination hearing. Nowak was charged as a result of the June 20th incident in which he is accused of assaulting a 16-year-old female while they were both visiting the residence of a mutual friend. The Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office authorized the charges following an investigation conducted by the Unadilla Township Police Department in response to the reported assault. Nowak was arrested October 30th. Officials say Nowak is an employee of the Ingham Intermediate School District in Mason, MI and volunteered with Stockbridge Community Schools. Future court dates for Nowak have not been scheduled at this time. (DK)

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    After much outcry and opposition from residents, proposals for two cell towers have been denied that would have been located on General Motors Proving Ground property in Brighton Township. The Planning Commission met Monday night and voted 4-2 to deny two separate requests from Verizon to locate towers at one site off Commerce Road and another site on Pleasant Valley Road, on behalf of General Motors. The property in question is zoned industrial, which is preferred for such a venture, but both were in close proximity to residential areas. GM requested the Commission take a vote last night and it was noted there were no other viable locations for the towers, although not all commissioners or residents appeared sold on that statement. Chairman Steve Holden and Commissioner Daniel Schifko opposed motions to deny the towers. Holden told WHMI there were two locations and two special land use permits, neither of which met with approval. He says at this point the applicant may have some other means to pursue other action but that would be up to Verizon. During the meeting, Holden stated he felt that both GM and Verizon adequately addressed the need for both present and future capacity. Commissioners who voted to deny the cell towers included H.E. Bud Prine, Jeff Stinedurf, Mike Slaton and Larry Herzinger. Vice Chairman Gus Mitsopoulos was absent. Herzinger became the deciding “no” vote after initially voting for the towers in November. He explained his thought process during the meeting and said he didn’t doubt the need for the towers, as Verizon wouldn’t go through the expense if there wasn’t a need. What he did question was that GM didn’t seem to be very flexible, noting they would benefit a tremendous amount from having the towers. Herzinger said he would really like to see the commission push back on GM and believes there are other areas the towers could be located further away from residents. The majority of concerns raised by residents included the impact on property values, potential health impacts and preserving the rural character of the area - with many stressing there is also no problem with current cell coverage. A number spoke during two public hearings, including Kyle and Deven Millay. Kyle Millay told WHMI their obvious reaction is relief. He says “I think I’ll definitely sleep better tonight than I did last night. I appreciate the council taking the resident’s concerns and considerations into mind and placing the burden on GM and Verizon to prove the necessity of these towers. The board recognized that GM was relatively unwilling to compromise and I think that hurt them in the long run.” His wife Deven added “With a new baby and a two-year old, having a cell tower directly outside of their bedroom window less than 300 feet away, we were the house most affected based on the Commerce Road plan. From our front door, that is literally all you’d see. It’s important to us to maintain the aesthetic and keep our family safe.” During the meeting, it was noted that usage of wireless communications is growing ten-fold and the sites were considered for a reason to best serve GM’s operational needs, thus should not be moved further onto the property. GM had hoped to improve cellular connectivity and coverage around the entire track. Verizon Engineer Michael Avery commented that the towers are needed to offset capacity problems in the network, not necessarily enhance – further clarifying that there is a difference between coverage and capacity. (JM/AV)

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    CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that the PPO allows Carl Richards to be in the same room as Mary Parisien during council business. We apologize for any confusion. Despite a Personal protection order, a South Lyon City Council member has returned to his regular seat at the council table. Council met Monday night and members Carl Richards and Mary Parisien were sitting less than 20 feet from each other. That's despite a PPO against Richards that Parisien said was granted November 26th. Parisien said she was contacted by a local business in October and told that the 72-year-old Richards had been there bragging about looking into the windows of her home before describing the interior in detail. Parisien also claims Richards made comments about her person, her body, and the LGBTQ community. The Oakland County judge who granted the PPO indicated Richards must stay away from Parisien for a year, and is only allowed to be in the same room as council for business matters only. At the November meeting, Richards was seated in the far corner of the meeting room, away from Parisien and the rest of the council. However, he was seated in his regular seat on Monday night and has refused requests to resign from Council. Parisien said she wasn’t surprised at all. Also Monday night, Richards read a scripted apology asking to put the unfortunate series of events behind them and move forward. Parisien referred to the apology as “hollow” and said the only apology she would accept is from Richards was his resignation, noting at the end of the day he never directly apologized to her or said he didn’t do it. Meanwhile, a South Lyon Board of Ethics has been created to investigate the matter and determine if Richards is in violation of the City’s ethics ordinance. Once that board has the PPO transcripts in hand, they will be able to pin down their next meeting date. The Board is considering a Tuesday in January that is yet to be determined. A video of Monday's meeting is available through the link below. (JM)

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    A South Lyon teacher is being recognized for starting the day with personalized handshakes with each student. Tamara Besco is a math teacher at Millennium Middle School and greets each of her first-hour students with the unique handshakes. She says she knows her students face big challenges in their lives at home or in their past that she can't change, so she realized that "a good morning is something that I can change." The handshake greetings have since gone viral. Besco says she gave her students two weeks to come up with their own greeting and then gave herself two weeks to learn them all. Now, she starts each day with the greetings and a smile. Besco says the handshakes are all different include some elaborate ones and "all reflect their personalities in some way." Photo: clickondetroit.com - WDIV. (JM)

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    Howell Police are hoping to catch a Grinch who stole a package from a resident. The package was stolen around 1pm on Monday from a home on Maple Street near Jewett in the city. It appears the male suspect was in a black pickup truck, parked on the street near the victim’s home. Videos and photos are posted on the Howell Police Facebook page, along with details of the incident. The post is followed by the hash tags: #nottodaygrinch #tipstersunite and #wewillfindyou. Anyone with information or who recognizes the suspect is asked to contact Howell Police at 517-546-1330. Meanwhile, authorities advise it is that time of year when people head out to steal delivered packages and they encourage any victims to file a police report. They add people can help protect themselves by installing surveillance cameras and requiring a signature for package delivery. A link to the Howell Police Facebook page is provided. (JM)

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    A popular pond hockey tournament is on thin ice as a dispute over fencing has caused organizers to pull their application. Each year, the Michigan Pond Hockey Classic draws an estimated 2,000 skaters for each of the 3 days the event takes place on Whitmore Lake. Hockey enthusiasts come from 15 states and 6 Canadian provinces to participate. Organizers were before the Northfield Township Board of Trustees, Tuesday night, with their civic event application for the next dates of the tournament, which would be this coming February 8th through the 10th. Due to alcohol mismanagement over the past several years, however, Public Safety Director William Wagner had a list of recommendations for organizers and the Board to consider, for him to feel safe allowing the event. Wagner and Northfield Township police have had issues with serious drinking and driving accidents, open intox in non-authorized areas, minors being served, and fights that have cost officers time due to injuries over past Pond Hockey weekends. In his list of suggestions, were hiring professional bartenders instead of volunteers, a 2 beer per-purchase maximum, and the big one, a snow fence surrounding the event. The fence would encompass the 21 rinks on the lake, prohibit outside alcohol, and allow police to better monitor entry and exit points. Wagner said he’s a fan of the event, but it’s just become too dangerous in its current state. Applicant and Planning Commissioner Sam Iaquinto was amenable and willing to work with the Chief on many of his recommendations, but said the cost of fencing would be too prohibitive and would eat all of their profits. With sponsors being near non-existent for the next event, and having to hire a professional bartending service, having to put a fence up seemed out of the question for Iaquinto and organizers. Estimates thrown around for what a fence of that size would cost ranged between $3,000 and $6,000. Iaquinto said they have tried fencing in the past, and they either or fall over and become iced over, or the materials conduct heat and fall through the ice. The Board of Trustees voted 3-3 on the application, not giving it the needed majority for approval. Trustee Wayne Dockett was absent. Supervisor Marlene Chockley and Treasurer Lenore Zelenock said it was important to support the Chief in this, and that’s why they voted no. Iaquinto, upset following the decision, told the Board he was withdrawing the application. There was hope among some board members and Wagner that Iaquinto and organizers will reconsider. Iaquinto declined to comment. Facebook photo. (MK)

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    A former Livingston County judge is again asking for reconsideration of a motion denying the disqualification of an out-of-county judge from presiding over a hearing involving Judge Theresa Brennan. Former 44th Circuit Court Judge Daniel Burress had requested a grand jury to look into Brennan’s alleged misdeeds, which were the subject of a Judicial Tenure Commission complaint and State Police criminal investigation. Livingston County Chief Judge Miriam Cavanaugh was reported to have asked the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) in June to assign a judge from another county to hear the grand jury request. The case was then assigned to Eaton County Circuit Court Judge John Maurer. Burress filed a motion to disqualify Maurer, stating he had no jurisdiction to hear the case because Cavanaugh’s decision to move it out of the county violated an administrative order that she herself signed just days before. A hearing in September brought the matter before Maurer, who denied the motion to recuse himself. Burress appealed, but the 44th Circuit Court ruled on November 21st to deny Burress’ motion to disqualify Judge Maurer. That order included a statement from the court, which says Burress alleges that Judge Cavanaugh “acted without legal authority in her decision to request that SCAO appoint a visiting judge.” A joint motion for reconsideration was filed on November 30th, claiming the court’s statement paints a “distorted and inaccurate picture” of Burress’ argument, as he says his petition for disqualification actually alleged that Cavanaugh had requested that SCAO determine whether the case should be assigned to a judge from another county. Burress’ motion claims there is no evidence in the produced record that Cavanaugh made a request for the appointment of a visiting judge. The motion for reconsideration also states that the court’s order denying Burress’ motion for disqualification was entered without prior notice to the petitioner and without oral argument or opportunity to present the petitioner’s position to the court. Burress’ motion for reconsideration is asking the court to set aside and vacate its order, as well as set the matter for an oral argument. (DK/JK)

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    A local lawmaker’s legislation concerning the regulation of pet shops has taken another step towards becoming law, despite opposition from animal rights groups. On Tuesday, the State Senate Agriculture Committee approved a pair of House bills proposed by Handy Township Republican Hank Vaupel critics contend would diminish local control over pet shops and ultimately be harmful to puppies. But Vaupel, a retired veterinarian, insists the legislation actually supports animal welfare. At the center of the debate is House Bill 5917, which Vaupel says would prevent a county, city, village or township from banning pet shops. "These family-owned pet shops play an important role in our communities. If they close up shop, more families will be pushed toward online vendors and unregulated breeds, not realizing they don't have much recourse if the puppy is sick or the transaction turns out to be a scam." But among those testifying Tuesday against the bill was Melinda Szabelski, supervisor of the Humane Society of Huron Valley's animal cruelty and rescue department. She said it would strip local law enforcement of any type of regulation, investigation or inspection power over pet shops. That sentiment was echoed by Molly Tamulevich, Michigan state director for the Humane Society of the United States, who said that pet stores that sell puppies, “pose a number of problems for communities, and the local elected officials representing those communities must retain the right to address them." State law currently tasks the regulation of pet shops to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. But state officials say they stopped those activities in 2009 due to budget constraints and the job has largely fallen to local animal control departments. Officials with the Humane Society for the United States said the bills give consumers a “false sense” that pet stores are regulated in Michigan, and that the legislation serves largely to, “protect cruel puppy mills and their pet store sales outlets.” But Vaupel defends the legislation and says it will actually strengthen existing regulations by requiring puppies to be micro-chipped and prohibit pet shops from buying them from large-scale breeders that are not licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The bills passed the House largely along party lines last month with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed. They could go to the full Senate as early as Thursday. (JK)

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    A wrong-way driver will likely spend the rest of his life in prison after being sentenced following a crash involving alcohol on US-23 that killed two people. 75-year-old Edwin Brown of Chelsea was ordered to serve 10 to 15 years on two counts of operating while intoxicated causing death. The sentences are to be served consecutively, meaning he must serve a term of 20-30 years imprisonment. Brown earlier entered no contest pleas to the charges, in exchange for two counts of second degree murder being dismissed. The crash occurred on southbound US-23 near Six Mile Road in Northfield Township the afternoon of April 8th. In total, four cars were involved in the crash that left four people hospitalized and two others dead. 51-year-old Debbie Pinson of Broadview Heights, Ohio and 56-year-old Cathy Kretzschmer of Olmsted Township, Ohio were both killed. Konrad Siller, the First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office, previously told WHMI that the victims’ families were consulted prior to the plea and sentence agreements being finalized and approved them. Photo: clickondetroit.com - WDIV. (JM)

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    Officials are speaking out against a series of bills pending in the lame duck Michigan legislature that would pre-empt local government's ability to create or enforce their own municipality’s tree and vegetation ordinances. SB 1188 and six other related bills, known as the “Vegetation Removal Prevention Act”, are sponsored by Republican Senator Tom Casperson of Escanaba. The legislation would restrict municipalities' ability to regulate the removal or trimming of trees on private property and prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances, or charters prohibiting or restricting the removal of trees or other vegetation. Green Oak Township Supervisor Mark St. Charles recently spoke out against SB 1188, stating it is a bill that township officials object to. He says as written, the term “other vegetation” is all encompassing. St. Charles says based on his interpretation, the bill would prevent the township from enforcing their noxious weed ordinance by prohibiting the municipality from issuing tickets and warning notices, adding he believes it is “another attempt to strip powers from the local municipalities”. Leaders in the City of Howell have also expressed concerns about the legislation. At a recent City Council meeting, City Manager Shea Charles referred to the measure as “continued erosion of local control” and encouraged council members to reach out to state representatives to express their opposition. SB 1188 passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee and was posted to the House Local Government Committee where it was taken up on Tuesday. The bill did not have sufficient support to be reported from the committee; however the Michigan Association of Planning reports there is an attempt to discharge the bill from committee and take it directly to the House floor for consideration. (DK)

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    Authorities say they’ve arrested a man wanted in connection with a robbery that occurred at a local credit union. At approximately 12:00pm Wednesday, the Brighton Police Department, with the assistance of the FBI, LAWNET, Livingston County Sheriff’s Department, Green Oak Township Police and Hamburg Township Police, arrested the lone suspect sought in the Lake Trust Credit Union robbery that occurred earlier this week. The suspect, who has not yet been identified, was arrested at his home in Novi without incident and provided investigators locations of key evidence. There were no injuries to anyone during the course of the arrest and he was transported to the Livingston County Jail. The credit union, located on West Grand River Ave in Brighton, was robbed around 2pm Monday. Police Chief Rob Bradford said the suspect walked into the bank, slid the teller a note and demanded money. A weapon was implied but never seen and the suspect left with an undisclosed amount of money. A message was posted on the Lake Trust Twitter account the same day stating that team members and bank members were safe, and announced the Brighton branch would be closed for the remainder of the day. (JM/DK)

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    Plans for a proposed subdivision in Hamburg Township are in danger as developers have failed to receive approval from the Planning Commission. The Waters Edge Village Open Space Community Planned Unit Development has received a recommendation of denial from the Hamburg Township Planning Commission. Developers were before the Commission 2 weeks ago when their preliminary site plan was tabled following large disapproval from the community. In the fortnight since that first hearing, they retooled and prepared for Wednesday night’s special meeting, and were met by the same distrust. The new plan reduced the number of units on the 93-acre parcel off Winans Lake Road from 154 to 144. They proposed improvements to trails, 10 universal ADA units, and a 6% increase in open space. McKenna Group, who does consulting for the township, recommended approval with considerations. Many residents still thought it was against the master plan, the density was too high, and that the traffic the subdivision would cause would be too great. Without the PUD, the developer would be restricted to only 77 homes in the area. Planning Commissioner Charles Menzies pointed out that without the PUD, the development would look just as “cookie cutter” and the township would lose control of aspects like tree preservation and measures to protect the Huron River waterway. The Open Space PUD allows the township to permit higher densities if there are exemplary reasons to. Commissioner Victor Leabu helped create the ordinance and said that the multiple housing types, trails, and quality of building materials makes it the most exemplary he’s seen. Commissioner Joyce Priebe was also around for the creation of the ordinance and said it was never their intent to allow so dense a development as this. While many were impressed with different aspects of the project, the majority of the Commission agreed with the public that 144 homes was still too high. The site plan will now go to the Hamburg Township Board of Trustees for consideration, with a recommendation of denial from the Planning Commission. (MK)

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    Three of Howell's FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams will be competing for a state championship this weekend. Three Howell Public Schools FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics teams have advanced to the FIRST in Michigan FTC State Championship that kicks off today. Those advancing are Team #15229 Kids Understanding Developing Outstanding Science (KUDOS), Team #10538 Kids Inventing Learning Technology Science (KILTS) and Team #8646 Kids Acting Out Science (KAOS). The teams are advancing based on their performance at two qualifying competitions held earlier this year. This is the fourth consecutive year that Team #8646 KAOS and Team #10538 KILTS have advanced to the state finals. It will be the first time for team #15229 KUDOS, who are currently in their rookie season. Team #15229 KUDOS qualified for the state event at the Mason Qualifier Competition. At the event, the team was selected to be part of an alliance and advanced to the finals before being eliminated. Team #10538 KILTS also secured their place at the state finals during the Mason Qualifier Competition were they were selected to join an alliance for the semifinals before being eliminated. The team claimed the PTC Design Award and was running up for the Control Award, Inspire Award, and the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award. Team #8646 KAOS advanced earned their spot at the state finals during the Howell Qualifier Competition where they finished match play in second place and advanced to the semifinals as an alliance team captain. The team advanced to the finals before being eliminated. Howell’s fourth FTC Team, Team #15465 Kids Robotics and Science of Howell (KRASH) fell short of advancing to the state finals but had an impressive rookie season. At the Mason Qualifier Competition, the team earned the Control Award and were finalists for the Motivate Award at the Howell Qualifier Competition. This year’s FTC competition is Rover Ruckus. In Rover Ruckus, the student created and operated robots will work in a three-team alliance as they try to a higher score than the opposing alliance by descending from the Lander, collecting Minerals from the Crater and sort Minerals into the Cargo Hold of the Lander. The FIRST in Michigan FTC State Championship runs through December 15th at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. (JM)

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    Northfield Township officials have created a committee to work with the potential developer of 23 acres of property in downtown Whitmore Lake. Three years ago the Board of Trustees began exploring options for the North Village district of downtown Whitmore Lake, with heavy input from residents. When they put out a request for proposal earlier this year, Lockwood Development was the only company to submit a plan. Lockwood is known primarily for senior rental housing, which was reflected in their proposal. Senior rentals, however, do not match up with the Northfield Township community vision plan for the district. While this has caused some strife with certain Board members and the Downtown Development Authority, being the only developer to submit an RFP has caused the township to continue working with Lockwood. Representatives from the developer were before the Board of Trustees, Tuesday night, to answer concerns the Board has about Lockwood’s vision. The two sides seemed far apart. Northfield Township Supervisor Marlene Chockley talked about their differences, saying the big division is in the financial aspects of the project and how it will play out. She also wondered if a different location in Northfield Township might better work for both parties. Treasurer Lenore Zelenock said she doubts about the project altogether, with services proposed being inclusive to renters and not for the public. She said the delays in Lockwood getting their information to the Board in time to be ready for packets and the public were also unacceptable. She said she believes it won’t bring in students or tax revenue to the community township. With officials and the developer still not seeing eye-to-eye, the Board of Trustees elected to form a committee to work with the township’s planning consultant and manager as they continue to work with Lockwood. Chockley, and Trustees Janet Chick and Tawn Beliger will make up that committee. (MK)

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