Rochester/Rochester Hills news briefs

Hearing set for Hills ballot proposal

Rochester Hills City Council has scheduled an Aug. 27 hearing to take public comment on a proposal to put a tax question on the November general-election ballot.

At the recommendation of the Police/Roads Technical Review Committee, council is considering asking voters to approve renewing and repurposing an expiring drain bond tax for local roads. The proposal is for seven years and 0.4855 mills.

“This is a tax we’re currently paying now; this would not be an increase in taxes,” said council President Greg Hooper.

Councilman Michael Webber said that when he joined council in 2007, the city had no money dedicated exclusively for local roads. “With everyone’s leadership … we’ve been able to identify some money to put towards local roads,” he said.

Webber and several other councilmen said they were gratified that voters approved a police tax request on the Aug. 7 ballot by a 70-30 margin.

“We went with frankly a complex proposal,” said Councilman Adam Kochenderfer. “There’s sometimes a thought in politics that you need to dumb things down for the voters. That’s not true in Rochester Hills. …  Putting faith in the voters has really worked out for the city.”

Hearing set over fate of landmark tree

A builder’s request to cut down an 80-foot spruce tree on Ferndale in the city of Rochester will be the subject of a public hearing Sept. 10.

Lombardo Homes wants to cut down the tree in order to build a house on the lot at the corner of Oak. City Manager Jaymes Vettraino said it is the first request to cut down a tree defined as a landmark under city ordinance. Administration rejected the request, so under the ordinance the builder can petition city council. Removal requires a resolution from council.

Councilman Jeff Cuthbertson said the ordinance was designed to allow public discussion. “It’s not insignificant and deserves serious discussion,” he said. “The good news is it’s at the front of the lot.”

Hills residents blast robocall

Several Rochester Hills residents told city council Monday night that they had received a robocall from the American Family Association asking them to thank city council for rebuffing a proposed human-rights ordinance. Resident Bruce Fealk played back the call, which he called “despicable,” at Monday’s meeting. It purported to be from Gary Glenn, president of AFA Michigan.

“This robocall was put out by AFA, a group that has been recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Fealk said. He pointed out that council has been on the wrong side of residents on previous issues, such as deer management and water reservoirs.

“We’re not going away,” Fealk said. “I hope this city council recognizes we can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way.”

“I think it’s really sad,” said resident Tim Maurer. “You have somebody who’s not from Rochester Hills … sending a message of hate to our citizens.”

Mayor Bryan Barnett said there was a robocall on the other side of the issue as well. “I wouldn’t know if Mr. Glenn was sitting in the audience; I’ve never met him,” Barnett said.

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