Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bridgeport Planning Commission Meeting April 28th, 2014

This was my first time attending a planning commission meeting and I really had no idea of what to expect.  I had no idea what they involve or who the members are, but I was impressed with what I saw, impressed with the members; especially Mrs. Culpepper - You Go Girl!
The main focus of this meeting was to listen to Mr. Bewley and his ideas for development of his 60 acres of property here in our downtown area, his property is the former Bridgeport Country Club and Golf Course.
We could use some bigger development to keep this community alive and growing.  A Cabela's store right alongside I-75 would be very nice, but again I don't want to ever see us turn into another Birch Run with their traffic and crime.  The Dixie Highway from I-75 to Junction Rd. would be a good place for this kind of development that could also capitalize on our proximity to Frankenmuth.  The problem is these are hard times and the future is uncertain.  We are dealing with a declining population in our township, declining incomes.  I can understand Mr. Bewley wanting to development his property but since I live just down the road from this property, I would be very wary of what kind of development goes on this property. Something does need to be done with the property, it needs to be cleaned up.  The downtown area of Bridgeport is a nice residential area and a nice quaint small town and  I would like to see it stay this way.

There are two things that were mentioned at this meeting by Mr. Bewley that don't sit well with me.
The first is the future of our  Bridgeport High School.  There are decisions that need to be made at some point in the future as to the Bridgeport High School property and the future of our school system.  I hope those decisions will be based on what is best for our students and our school system, and not on the fact that the high school is setting on "prime" real estate and any dreams of future development.  Part of my concern involving the high school is also any future development of Mr. Bewleys property that is right by the high school.  Is that kind of development and the traffic it would bring a good idea to have that close to the school.  We have all the school buses that come and go from this area, the student drivers, students that walk to and from school, and also all the after school events like football games, track events, etc..   Development and the traffic it would bring could be a major headache and possibly dangerous to have that close to the school.
The second item Mr. Bewley discussed that bothers me is his hopes to bring a Cabela's store here to Bridgeport.  I agree having a Cabela's store by I-75 would be nice, but it is the selling point that Mr. Bewley is using to try and sell the Bridgeport location to Cabela's headquarters.  That point is that locating a store here would "destroy" Jay's Sporting Goods located in Clare.  Bringing in a nationwide chain so they can destroy a small family based Michigan business is not the kind of values that I share.  Nationwide chains come and go, they base their decisions on what is good for their profit, not the communities that they locate into.  They come in like a tornado and go out like one, they leave empty buildings in their wake.  Just take a look at Saginaw Township to see how these nationwide companies come and go.  Nationwide chains will never give you the kind of customer service that a company like Jay's will.  Jay's Sporting Goods started in 1971 and I hope they will be here for many more years.
I will have faith that Bridgeport Township will never base their development plans on the kind of values that would destroy a local business just to bring in profits and tax revenue.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bridgeport Township Building and Grounds Committee Meeting April 14th, 2014

The business discussed at tonight's meeting was the condition of our fire department building and the equipment that they use to perform their work.  The equipment they use to save lives and protect the lives of their personnel are all getting old, they take a lot of wear and tear, and it is expensive to replace.  That includes everything from their breathing apparatus to the fire engines.  The Fire Department building was built in 1972 and is in need of some major repairs,  in the video they do discuss the repairs needed and the various options.  We could just keep making repairs, but someday it will get to the point that the repairs are not enough, so why keep sinking money into the old building now when someday it will need to be replaced anyways.  I think the best option would be a new building; yes a new building would be very expensive but it would be worth the investment for our excellent Fire Department and for our community.  Maybe we can't get a new building right now, but we need to at least make sure they have the proper equipment right now.
I think we have a great Fire Chief in Patrick Nelson and I have always been proud of our Bridgeport Fire Department. They do so many different things:   Fire Suppression, Medical First Response, Hazardous Materials Response, Ice/Water Rescue, Technical Rescue, Public Education, Code Enforcement, Plan Review and Inspections.  I don't have the yearly total of how many calls they respond to,  but you can look at the list of weekly calls on the Bridgeport Township website http://www.bridgeportmi.org/

We expect them to be there to protect our lives and our property, and so the Bridgeport Township Government and the Bridgeport Township residents need to find a way to provide them with the funds they need to do that properly and safely.
Chief Nelson explains in excellent detail what the conditions are for the Fire Department and what their needs are.  Please take the time to watch the video and listen to his presentation.

The meeting minutes are now up on Bridgeports website.  They go into great detail of the things discussed. Building and Grounds Meeting Minutes

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meeting April 9th, 2014

Not all the microphones were on for the DDA board members and some of the comments are very hard to hear.
The agenda for this meeting included items about donation requests from the community, a request for funds from the Bridgeport Historical Society, plans for beautification in Bridgeport, important issues with “The Rock” located near I-75 here on the Dixie Hwy, the proposed canoe launch, plans for future snow removal on DDA sidewalks, the Great Lakes Discovery Center, landscaping for the historic bridge. They also discuss the plans that the Speedway Gas Station has for its location.  They went into a closed session to discuss a possible future land purchase, I have no details on that.
Discussion on donation requests begins at 2:49 in the video.  DDA coordinator Steve Dobis feels that the DDA is not a bank and he would like to have input to the board on the donation requests from the community.
Discussion on the beautification plans for Bridgeport begins at 6:13 in the video and goes on until 42:43. Bridgeport plans will be similar to Birch Runs.  Bridgeport is talking about putting up to 200 flower pots along the Dixie Hwy from Bearcat Blvd to State St.  Costs could range up to $12,000 for these plans.  Discussion also includes who would be watering these pots.
Discussion on “The Rock” begins at 42:48 in the video.  Turns out the Bridgeport Rock was placed on MDOT property and there is an issue with ownership of the rock and liability issues with it.  MDOT says it was not approved and there was no permit for it.
Discussion on the Bridgeport Historical Society request begins at 51:45 in the video.  The Historical Society is requesting $6,238 for needed repairs to buildings in the Historical Village.  The DDA coordinator recommended giving them $2,000 but the board did agree to give them $3,100.
Discussion on the proposed canoe launch begins at 1:04:45 in the video.  They are waiting on the closing on the property donated by DDA board member John Hoffmann, and the survey is done on the properties but they are waiting on the water levels to recede to put the survey stakes down and to finalize the draft.
Discussion for the snow removal on DDA sidewalks begins at 1:06:30 in the video.  They are looking at purchasing equipment for the removal of snow on the sidewalks within the DDA district.  The price for this equipment would be around $33,790.66, but they will still be looking at what other districts are doing and getting more quotes on equipment.
Discussion on the Great Lakes Discovery Center begins at 1:16:40 in the video.  They will be exchanging land that is owned by Bridgeport Township along Fayette Street with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This land will become part of the Great Lakes Discovery Center.
Discussion on the Historic Bridge landscape begins at 1:21:59 in the video.  They will be taking bids for landscaping and cleaning around the bridge area and the former B&S Heating property.
Discussion on two properties located in Bridgeport begins at 1:23:08 in the video.  The properties discussed are located at 4274 Dixie Hwy and 6001 Dixie Hwy. 
They agree to go into a closed session at 1:26:00 into the video.  They return from the closed session and agree to approve what was discussed in the meeting. 
They discuss a few items at the end of the meeting such as their alliance with the Birch Run Chamber of Commerce.  Also discussed is the plans for the Speedway Gas Station near I-75, and also any possible plans for the former B&S Heating property that sits next to the Historic Bridge.

I am wondering why we are trying to imitate Birch Run or any other township?  Why can't we be Bridgeport, why can't we be unique?  What do we have here in Bridgeport that makes us unique? We have the Cass River, The Historical State Street Bridge and the Historical Village.  What does Birch Run have?  A large shopping mall and the traffic problems and the crime that come along with it.  Seems like Birch Run should be trying to imitate us :-)
Beautification is a nice idea, flowers are always a thing of beauty, BUT, I think the Historical Village does more to have a positive impact on our community and attract people to come here.  I would rather see those thousands of dollars proposed for the flower pots spent on our Historical Village
And now to the snow removal.  Posted right on Bridgeport Townships website and always posted on the community billboard every year in front of the fire station, are the rules for snow removal from sidewalks in our community.  Here are those rules copied directly from their website:
"ATTENTION - Sidewalk Ordinance
As a property owner in Bridgeport Township, it is YOUR responsibility to have your sidewalks clear of snow and ice.
Section 28-21 of the Township Sidewalk Ordinance states: "All property owners and occupants of real property fronting upon a Township sidewalk shall keep such sidewalk free from all ice, snow, grass overgrowth, earth and other substances or debris. Owners and occupants shall have a period of twenty four (24) hours to remove such ice, snow, earth, grass overgrowth, and other substances or debris after deposit thereof."
"Any owner of any such premises who shall allow any such sidewalk to remain in disrepair or in a dangerous condition shall be responsible and liable for injuries and damages arising out of the disrepair or unsafe condition of said sidewalk, provided that such condition constitutes a condition for which liability otherwise exists under Michigan Law. Such owner shall further indemnify and reimburse the Township for any and all liability, costs and expenses which the Township might incur as a result of any such defective or dangerous sidewalk."
Violators will receive a Municipal Civil Infraction  THIS IS THE ONLY NOTICE YOU WILL RECEIVE"
I say why not just enforce your own codes and save the $33,000 of taxpayer money to use for a better project?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bridgeport's Lyle Park and the Trail Of Trash

Lyle Park is one of the two parks in Bridgeport Township that sits along the Cass River.  Lyle Park starts at the end of the Historic State Street Bridge and runs alongside the Cass River down to the Fort Street Bridge. This path is part of Bridgeport's "pedestrian walkway" or rail trail system.  Next to the path is a ditch type area that sits between the path and the railroad tracks.  This ditch is filled with trash of every kind imaginable. During flooding and rainy periods this ditch is also filled with water, sometimes very low level stagnant water. It is sad to see that this low lying wet area is also home to old car tires, the perfect mosquito breeding grounds.  I am not sure if the railroad company owns this ditch area or if Bridgeport Township does, but you would think that no matter who owns it, Bridgeport would keep it cleaned up since it sits just several feet from their trail. I have heard that Bridgeport projects 30,000 people a year are going to come and walk this trail system starting at the Historic State Street bridge.  Having two trash filled parks as part of their trail system doesn't seem like a good way to attract all these visitors, doesn't seem like the kind of setting you would want to showcase for Bridgeport.  I took just a few photos of some of the trash in this ditch area alongside the trail.

Car tires number 1 & 2

Car tire number 3

Car tire number 4
Car tire number 5

UPDATED APRIL 12TH, I was at Lyle Park again today and found 2 more tires that were under the water before.  
Car tire number 6

Car tire number 7

Some photos of the other types of trash lying in this ditch area.  The trash includes old carpeting and shingles, bottles, lumber, railroad ties, concrete blocks, metal, etc....

Sadly some of these visitors to the park trail system leave their garbage behind and of course there are the ever present "graffiti artists".

And hopefully before next winter comes Bridgeport will find some way to keep the snowmobiles off of the Historic State Street bridge.  While we still had snow I saw the tracks of where the snowmobiles had been running over the bridge and it the areas where there was only a thin layer of snow on the bridge, they left these gouges in the wood planking. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Update On Trash In Davis Park And The Sand Bars In Bridgeport Township

I went to Davis Park hoping to find the trash pile removed but it is still there.  In this short video segment I show some more trash that has been lying around the park for probably several years now.  There are some railroad ties there and I don't think they washed up in the flooding.  I am not sure why Bridgeport Township would have hauled them back over by the trash/burn pile.  Are they planning on burning them too?  I hope they move all this trash to a proper landfill and soon especially those railroad ties because they have some big spikes sticking out of them. I would think that would be a liability should anyone step on them or fall on them.

The above video is a follow up video to my earlier video of the damage caused to the Cass River and the garbage in Davis Park.  At about 28 minutes into this earlier video you will see the large trash pile that they burn in Davis Park.

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Objections To Bridgeport's Proposed Canoe Launches and Other Plans for Davis Park Island

This is my open letter to the Bridgeport Township Government

The foundation of our little town of Bridgeport is our beautiful Cass River, and also our historical bridge.  These should always be the focus of our town.  These are our best assets.  These are the things that can still bring our community together.  These are the things that we must treat with the utmost care and respect.  We are the caretakers of our river and we must protect it in every decision that we make, every action we take as individuals and as a community.

Now let’s discuss the two proposed canoe launches.  I am not actually against them.  I think they would be a great thing to have here.  I would love to have others enjoy this river as much as I have.  I would love to be able to canoe or kayak down this river again.  My problem is the condition that the river is currently in.  Our river was damaged by the actions of Bridgeport Township and it is our responsibility to repair the damage we have done.  I was furious when I first read the plans for putting in these canoe launches.  Why?  Because no where did it mention anything about first trying to repair our river.  I thought “canoe launches”, what are you crazy?  Who’s @##$% idea was this?   The river is so silted in by the actions taken in 1975 that in the summertime you cannot get any kind of boat down this river, not even a canoe.  When would the most canoeing activity take place?  In the summertime when the river is so low you can’t get a canoe down it.  
We had the canoe launch, we had a boat launch, now they are both gone, the river is damaged, and now you’re talking about putting in two new launches!  Nowhere have I seen any concern from anyone in our township government about the state of our river.  No one in our township government is talking about fixing this mess.  All I can see is that you want to put in more launches, and all I can think is how much damage will they do this time to our river?
I would support the canoe launches, but only after the damage to our river has first been repaired.  This river needs to be dredged out and the canal along Fayette / Fort road needs to be totally filled in.  I don’t know how to repair the pond.  It is silted in, I suppose that could also be dredged out.  The problem with the pond is also that there is not enough water flow anymore from the wetlands.  I don’t know how to fix that.  Maybe in time after the river was fixed, the pond would take care of itself. Maybe the pond can never be repaired, but the river can be.  I would only support the canoe launches if you could give me a 110% guarantee that they would not cause any further damage to our river. 
Now let’s talk about the actual logistics of your plan.  The Cass River is a floodplain.  River = Floodplain.  I understand that a dock has to go in the river, has to go in the water.  Where the problem lies in my mind is that the two locations you have picked for these launches are the two worst areas for flooding that I am aware of here in Bridgeport.  I will be posting some pictures here of the flooding in Davis Park last year.  Even the playground equipment on the island was under water.  I have seen over all my years here the damage that the flooding causes.  I have watched it destroy the things that have been built in the park area.  Now what roads are almost always closed during times of flooding?  Fayette Street between the wetlands and Davis Park, Riverview and the Dixie Highway where it crosses the Cass River.  The river bottom area along the Dixie Hwy is worthless land, it is good for nothing because of the flooding there.  I don’t know exactly where on Mr. Hoffman’s land you are planning on putting this launch but I don’t see that any of that land along the river there is any good.  That is the worst flooded area out here that I am aware of.  To me these plans don’t even make sense:  to build two launches in the worst flooded areas, to launch canoes in a river that is unusable because of the silting and the low water levels.  Why would anyone do something like that?  Maybe I would support the canoe launches, but I just can’t see these two locations as the best option. 
Now let’s talk a little more about Davis Park, specifically the island.  First question here is has anyone ever tested the area around the island to see if any contamination from the old dump is leaching into the river or into the soil of the island?  Second question is about the stability of the island with all of the proposed building to go on there.  For years I have watched holes popping up here and there on the island.  Some are from the woodchucks and their burrows, but there doesn't actually seem to be too many of them around there anymore.  They did used to be bad!  There are still holes showing up.  It appears that there are just some little areas that cave in.  There used to be more especially around the end of the island towards Fayette St.  What exactly is the foundation of the island?  Would it support a parking lot and the proposed traffic that these plans would bring onto the island?  Would the banks of the island on the river side need to be shored up to prevent erosion from the river and the flooding?  The river banks all along there continue to erode year after year. Have you compared all your proposed building plans to the actual area available on the island that doesn't end up under the flood water?  How would you prevent anything you build up there from being damaged in the flooding?  There are so many questions that need to be thoroughly examined before anything should ever be built on that island.

All I see is more money wasted.  People will say “well it is grant money, can’t turn free money down”.  There is no such thing as Free Money!  That money comes from the backs of the taxpayers.  Just because you CAN get grant money, doesn't mean that you SHOULD. 

I will admit that I don’t trust our township government and I have no confidence in the decisions you make.  I am not the only one who feels this way.  This didn't happen overnight, it has been years and years in the making.  It is the responsibility of the township government to regain the residents trust and confidence.

I am adding some photo's here of the April 2013 flooding in Davis Park.  The flooding was actually higher several days before I made it there to take the photographs.  Remember that we do not only have flooding in the spring time.

This photo is of the flooding on the island.  You can see that even though the flood waters were already receding the playground equipment was still under water.

This one here is of the pavilion on the island, you can see that it also is under water.

The rest of these are shots of Davis Park and Lyle Park.

The last photo was taken from the Fort St. Bridge looking down the river towards the State St. Bridge.  Just wanted to show the power and majesty of our river when she is raging.  The little green spot you see on the right side is the top of the high hill back in the wooded area of Davis Park.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

I Don't Hate Bridgeport, I Love My Hometown

I want to say that I am not just focused on the "negative" things in Bridgeport, I am not trying to hurt Bridgeport.  I believe very strongly in the things I am talking about.  I will admit that I do get very cynical at times when it comes to things involving the Bridgeport Township Government.  So let me say some nice things about Bridgeport.
First is Liberty Park.  That is a fantastic achievement that doesn't just benefit us here in Bridgeport.  People come from all over to use that park.  I see in your Master Plan that there are some things over there that need upgrading, then please do spend the money necessary to keep that park in top shape.  It will be worth every dollar spent.
The Historical Village.  I love it!  That shows what a community can do with people working together.
Our Bridgeport Library, one of my favorite places!!  I do wish that it had been located here in our downtown area.  That is the kind of addition I would like to see in our downtown, not more retail stores.
The State Street Bridge Restoration. I love that bridge, I always have, I always will.  I have been here for over a half a century, born and raised here, and have spent much of my life on that bridge and at the river. Played on the bridge as a child, fished from it, and have walked across it so many times I couldn't even begin to count how many. What I don't like is the way it was handled.  I felt it was very dirty and underhanded.  It showed no respect for the residents of Bridgeport, it created too much ill will and divided this township. Despite my feelings about the way it was handled, it still brings a smile to my face every time I see it.  I love walking across it now more than I ever did.  It is a beautiful bridge!!
* BTW, The Christmas lights around the bridge this year were stunning !

I understand that people want to bring in new development to Bridgeport, bring in more tax dollars.  I just don't often agree with your vision for the future of my hometown.  I don't want a Meijer's, don't want a Walmart.  We don't need anymore apartment complexes.  I have always like my sleepy little residential community just the way it is. It was a community where it was safe to let your children run and play.  Knew your neighbors, actually you knew just about everyone in town.  The members of the community were involved in the community, involved in the schools, in their churches.  But society has changed with the times and sadly that is reflected in our community and in many communities.
I would never want to live in a place like the State Street Corridor out in Saginaw Township, or Bay Rd, Tittabawassee Corridor.
We will never be a Little Bavaria, even  Frankenmuth is no longer a Little Bavaria.  Now it is just a hotel row and tourist trap.  They lost their identity years ago.  The only place I go to in Frankenmuth is Gil-Roys Hardware.
Do we want to be another Birch Run?  Maybe people looking at the tax revenue generated do, but I hope we never end up like them.  Even the Birch Run residents avoid their downtown area now.  From things I read and hear, the development there has divided that community too.
Freeland is nice, places like Hemlock and all the little rural communities surrounding us still have their small town charm, still have their community.  But unlike them we are not a rural community anymore.  We now sit between I-75 and Saginaw, I am not sure where that leaves us.  Hopefully we never loose our identity, what Bridgeport was, the history of this community. I feel like I am watching it slowly slip away, sadly watching it slip away.

Damage Caused To The Cass River By Bridgeport Township

Many years ago the Cass River here in Bridgeport was very deep and had a strong current but that all changed once they dug the canal along Fayette St. in 1975.  The canal went from the pond in Davis Park, along Fayette St. out to the Cass River near the Fort St. Bridge.  This canal was dug to make a canoe path from the canoe launch in the pond in Davis Park out to the river.
Prior to the digging of the canal, the water naturally flowed from the wetlands on the other side of Fayette St. into the pond in Davis Park and then there was a small natural ditch where the over flow ran from the pond back into the Cass River.  The pond in Davis Park was so full of fish, even huge Pike.  That natural water flow kept the silt flushed out of the pond, kept that water fresh and crystal clear.  That was the natural order of things and it should not have been messed with.    The Cass River was deep, even during the lowest water levels in the summer, you could go out in the river in a boat, hang off the sides of the boat and never touch bottom in the river. And the pond in Davis Park, even during the summer when the water levels were low you could walk out into the pond and the water would be waist to chest deep.
Once they dug the canal it changed the flow of the river by diverting the water from the river down the canal into the pond. That caused the water flow in the river to not be strong enough to keep the silt flowing and it started depositing into the river.  The worst silting is right there by the end of the canal where it opens into the Cass River.  That silting is now so bad that the river there by the end of the canal and the Fort St. Bridge is now mostly huge sand bars, going from that spot down to the other side of the Fort St. Bridge. There is one small channel left there in that area that looks like it may have a little depth in it, but I haven't tested it to see how deep it is.  I have heard from other residents that other sections of the Cass River from the Fort St. Bridge to I-75 are also silted in to the point that you can walk across the river in the summer in several inches of water.  The area of the Cass River from the canal to the Davis Park Island is also silted in, again you have areas where you can walk across the river in several inches of water in the summertime.  From Davis Park Island to the old State St. Bridge, I am not sure how bad the silting is in that area.  I haven't tried walking across the river there, if I can't see bottom I don't try to walk it.  I don't know how the rest of the river from the old State St. Bridge down river is.  This summer I will try to check other areas of the Cass River and talk to residents along the river to find out.
The water that flowed from the Cass River down the canal into the pond in Davis Park interrupted the natural flow of the water from the wetlands.  Once those two flows collided with each other where the canal opened into the park at the culvert,  they created a swirling effect in the water flow, back eddies.  Again the water flow was no longer strong enough to keep the silt flushed out of the pond and it started depositing into the pond.  Now with the silting the pond in the park is dried up in the summertime.

There is no more fishing in the pond or in the river.  There is no more boating or canoeing in the pond or river.  There is not much of anything going on anymore in either place.  You used to see so much wildlife in and around the pond and river but much of it is gone now.

Someone should be responsible for cleaning this mess up, but who?  It has taken 30 years from the time the canal was dug for the damage to get to this point.  Now the sand bars are closing off the end of the canal most of the time from the flow of the river except during times of flooding.  Even if the river manages to totally close it off and go back to it's natural flow down the river, how many years will it take the river to repair the damage of silting on it's own? Another 30 years, maybe longer?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Storage Shed Battle Between Mark Adams and Bridgeport Township

Another part of the legal battles between Mr. Adams and Bridgeport Township is the storage shed he has placed on his property.
First let me start with a little history of this parcel of property on Riverview.  I have been told that a person owned this parcel and had constant battles with the township over it and finally just got so tired of it they let it go back for taxes. I wonder if they had as many fines and court costs racked up as Mr. Adams has over this parcel?  I don't know who this person is but I would love to find out and talk with them about it. Maybe that was when Bridgeport Township got control of it in 1997?
Now there was a old small barn/shed that sat on this parcel of land.  You can see it here in a photo that is posted on the Saginaw Area GIS site.  It looks a little dilapidated in this photo.  I have no idea what year this photo was taken.

When Mr. Adams purchased this land in October 2010, that building was no longer standing, it had been demolished and was just a pile of rubble on the property.  I guess some of the rubble had even been thrown down into the river.  Mr. Adams did clean all the rubble up from this building.  I wonder if any residents ever complained about the dilapidated building or the pile of rubble that sat there for years?  
You would think that the area residents and the township would have appreciated someone cleaning this property up and trying to make improvements on it?

So Mr. Adams did place a small storage shed on this property to store tools etc.. in.  It is a nice improvement over what was there.  If the old shed had not been demolished and was still standing I wonder if Bridgeport Township would have given Mr. Adams citations for it?  So here is a photo of Mr. Adams and his storage shed.

Now here are 3 citations issued to Mr. Adams from Bridgeport Township for the shed.  Unfortunately part of the 3rd citation is cut off in this image.

So the first citation is for having a "Accessory Building" on vacant land.  According to their zoning ordinance Section 304:  "They are permitted only in conjunction with a dwelling (not permitted on a vacant parcel) with the following exceptions".  One of those exceptions is if it is located in "Agricultural District".  
His property was zoned Residential/Agricultural but not Agricultural.  And they have changed his zoning to just Residential Vacant now which I suspect has changed anything he can do on his property. 

The second citation is for "Failed to obtain the required zoning permit to place an accessory building on this vacant property".   If the first citation says he can't have an accessory building on vacant land, then how can they cite him for not obtaining the required permit?  Confused?  I sure am.  It appears you can apply for "special permits" for various things in this township.  Does this mean he could have applied for a "special permit" for this shed?  I have been told that if a shed is allowed on your property, you don't need a permit if it is under a certain square footage.  This shed is under that limit.  I have looked through the rules, codes, zoning ordinances that are posted online but I can't find anything pertaining to the size of a building that does or does not require a permit. Maybe you always need a permit for any accessory building but I just can't tell for sure.
Now for special use permits, those are granted here in Bridgeport, and some people I have spoken with feel you just have to have friends in the right places to get one.

The third citation has something to do with the Michigan Building Codes and Mr. Adams failing to get the proper permit.  Again I ask if you can't have a small storage shed on vacant land, then how can they cite him for failing to get the proper permits?  It is all very confusing to me as I suspect it would be to most people.

Summary:  Don't bother spending money on buying any vacant land in Bridgeport Township.  Unless you plan on building a home on it, it seems you have no right to do anything with the property, you can't even put up a bird feeder or have a grill, can't have chairs to sit in and enjoy the view of the river. You can't use the property for enjoyment or the neighbors will be filing complaints.  You can't make improvements or put any structure on it or the township will start the citations, court hearings, then the fines and legal costs will start adding up into the thousands of dollars.

My Advice to anyone looking to purchase a piece of vacant property in Bridgeport Township -  Look Elsewhere, Anywhere But Bridgeport Township!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Legitimate Complaints or Just Plain Old Bullying? - Part 2 The Case of Mark Adams

This is the second complaint made against Mr. Mark Adams and his property here in Bridgeport Township. Sometime in 2011 there was a court hearing involving the legal battles between Mr. Adams and Bridgeport Township.  During that hearing it was brought up that there had been NO complaints filed against Mr. Adams.  Now fast forward to January 2012 and here we have the one and only known complaint filed against Mr. Adams.  I have redacted the personal information of the complainants to protect their privacy.

The first complaint is concerning a motor home that Mr. Adams had sitting on his property.  I can't speak to all the legal proceedings concerning the motor home since I don't have all the documents, this may have been what the court hearings were about in 2011, but I do know that Mr. Adams has since removed the motor home from the property.
The second complaint is concerning the front part of the property not being mowed and growing into tall weeds. 
I believe that the front part of this property has never been a "yard" with grass but has always been a field area. This property was zoned residential/agricultural when Mr. Adams purchased it.  It is located in a residential/agricultural zone in the township.  At some point after Mr. Adams purchased this land, the township changed the zoning on his parcel of land from residential/agricultural to residential/vacant. I do not know the exact date that this was done.  The change in zoning does affect what Mr. Adams can do with the property and also affects the value of the property.  Did the township rezone any other similar parcels of land from residential/agricultural to residential/vacant at this time? Or was it only Mr. Adams land?
You can clearly see by the photo in a earlier post here on my blog that much of the land around Mr. Adams property is farmland.  It is my understanding that Mr. Adams had hoped to eventually use that small field area to plant some crops to use for the research his company does involving various types of lubricants, plant based lubricants.  Maybe he wanted to play "farmer/scientist" with a few crops, who cares, it is his property and his business.  Will the township now start telling residents they can't grow a garden unless the property is zoned agricultural?
This property was owned by another person for approximately 4 years before he sold it to Mr. Adams in October of 2010.  I believe the previous owner bought the land and never did anything with it.  I have been told that he did receive a letter one time from Bridgeport Township politely asking him to mow the weeds in the front part.  He mowed them and there was no problem.  The township never went onto this land when this gentleman owned it and mowed it.  Out of the four years he only had to mow it once.  At any time during that four year period did the above residents or any other residents ever file a complaint about the weeds on the property?  Not that I am aware of.
** Mr. Adams told me that he did receive a letter from Bridgeport Township in June of  2011, concerning the weeds on his property but he was out of the country on business for his company at the time.  When he returned he called Bridgeport Township and wanted to meet with them concerning the letter, but they told him there was no need to meet since they had already been out to his property and mowed it.**
It would appear by looking on the Saginaw Area GIS property search site that this previous gentleman bought this land from Bridgeport Township in 2006.  I can't tell for sure since there are no names listed for a 1997 transaction for this property, but it is possible that it was then that Bridgeport Township took possession of this property.  If Bridgeport Township had this property from 1997 to 2006, did they keep this property mowed all the time?  I have heard that it wasn't kept mowed but I can't swear to that since it is miles from my home and I don't drive around the township looking for things to complain about concerning other peoples properties.  If the weeds weren't kept mowed from 1997 to 2006, did any residents file a complaint during that time period.  Guess I would have to request that information from the township.

In the above complaint made in 2012, the statement is made "We feel our property value will decrease if this sort of thing is allowed to exist".  
If I owned property on this road I would be more concerned about a vacant property that is just down the road from Mr. Adams property, it actually sits closer to the above complainants property than Mr. Adams property does.  This property was foreclosed on in 2011 and is now owned by the U.S. Dept of Agriculture. It has been sitting vacant now for almost 3 years and is falling into disrepair, the windows are boarded up.  I have searched all the real estate sites for our area and it states that this property is not for sale, so I guess it will be sitting vacant for the foreseeable future and will continue to deteriorate.  I would think that this property would be more likely to cause the property values to fall for the surrounding areas than the piece of land that Mr. Adams bought and has tried to make improvements on.  Here is the property that is now sitting abandoned on Riverview.  Has anyone filed a complaint about this property or has Bridgeport Township fined the Dept of Agriculture for this blight?  Has Bridgeport Township hauled the Dept of Agriculture into court over this?

I drove out to the area around Mr. Adams property and looked around at the "weed" conditions.  Below you can see photos of some of the weeds up and down this road.  Even after the long hard winter we have had here with possibly a record snow fall, some of these weeds are still way over the "10 inch" rule the township has.  And as far as any "noxious weeds", I am sure once every thing starts growing again that I will be able to find "noxious weeds" along this road.
There is a small section of land that sits at the corner of Riverview and Blackmar Rd, it sits right across the road from Mr. Adams property.  It is overgrown with weeds and littered with garbage.  Has any resident ever complained about this?

A little farther down the road from Mr. Adams property are several parcels that appear to be zoned agricultural but it doesn't appear to me that they have been farmed in at least a year.  The front half of the property is fields and the back half is wooded.  There appears to be a few old corn stalks left in the fields along with weeds that are several feet high.  Has anyone ever complained about these weeds?

You can drive up and down this road and you will see the sides of the road look like this. For the residential properties that have homes on them and a regular front yard, there were no weeds.  But it seems that much of the land on this road is agricultural or wooded.   Again I ask, has anyone ever filed complaints about these?

WARNING: These next few photo's are very graphic!!  If you can't stand horror then please don't look.
These next two photo's are of the front part of Mr. Adams property.  The Weeds!!!  The Horror!!!  But I guess it is all good, Bridgeport Township made several hundred dollars by mowing these weeds from hell.  They mowed from the road all the way back to the tree line.  Think how much money the township could raise if they went up and down this entire road mowing all the weeds. That could be a real money maker for the township.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Legitimate Complaints or Just Plain Old Bullying? - Part 1 The Case of Mark Adams

I am aware of two complaints against Mr. Mark Adams and his property located in Bridgeport Township.

The first "complaint" I will address is one that was made by a woman verbally at the April 1st, 2014 Township Board Meeting.  I have contacted Mr. Adams and he is unaware of any official compliant being filed by her with the Township Board.  It is worth pointing out that this woman lives approximately 3 miles from his property.  Does she have "A Dog In This Fight"?  Not that I can see.
In the video segment below taken from the April 1st meeting you can hear her making the statements like "He doesn't follow any ordinances, any codes, or anything here".  I do not believe that she works for the township, maybe she is an expert on all the codes etc..  here.  Maybe she prowls the entire township keeping an eye out for any "code breakers".  I would hope that if she complains about one person in our township that she feels violates the codes that she would also complain about every resident she feels violates the codes.  If not, then it just looks like she has a personal vendetta against one man.  I don't know her so I cannot speak to her motivation for complaining about Mr. Adams, I can only wonder about her motivation.
Another statement she makes is "Yeah I can go put a building on some property too and live in it part-time".  She has me confused on that remark.  I have seen the small storage shed on Mr. Adams property and I can't imagine anyone living in it.  It is a storage shed used for tools and such.  Is this the building she is talking about?  It is the only building there so it must be.
Another statement she made that really struck me was "He may have money, he may have pull, but follow our regulations!".  It made me wonder if that is what her main complaint against Mr. Adams is? His money?  No one can answer that question but this woman herself.
And her last remark was "I have been there with the fireworks and seen the dogs crying, and listened to it on weekends. The neighbors and the people in the area are tired of it".    I contacted Mr. Adams and asked him how often he had parties or fireworks and he said "rarely".  Fireworks are legal here in Michigan so there should be no complaint about that unless the person is setting them off every night or all night long.  We have a fireworks store that opened right here in Bridgeport.  If people find fireworks so annoying then maybe they need to drive the business out of Bridgeport and then fight at the state level to ban all fireworks.  The number of fireworks being used in Bridgeport has increased since the state passed the law allowing them and the store opened here in Bridgeport.  I am not complaining about them.  If people enjoy them and have the money for it,  it is their business if they shoot them off, not mine.  I had a neighbor shoot a bunch off and the hot pieces landed in my yard, on the lawn furniture and the shed roof.  I wasn't happy about that but I did not complain about it.  If it ever becomes a problem then I will go to that neighbor and talk it over with them. That should be the first course of action whenever there is a problem instead of just shooting your mouth off in public complaining about a person.
Did any of Mr. Adams neighbors talk to him about any complaints they may have?  No they did not.
Here is a photo from Google of Mr. Adams property (marked with the "A") and the surrounding neighbors. Take note of the railroad tracks running through the edge of Mr. Adams property.  How many times per day and night does the train run through on these tracks?  How noisy is it when the trains come through?  I don't know how many times they run through but I do know how noisy they are.  Do the neighbors complain about the trains?  It would seem to me that these trains would make more noise on a daily basis than Mr. Adams would ever make.  How many other people living in this area have ever shot off fireworks?  Has this woman or any of the people living in this area ever complained about anyone else shooting off fireworks?


No Arrests at the April 1st, 2014 Bridgeport Township Board Meeting

Luckily there were no arrests at this months Bridgeport Township Board meeting.
There were some good comments made by several residents during the public comment period concerning the incident involving the removal and arrest of a speaker during last months meeting.  And there were more residents that attended this meeting than I have seen in awhile.  It would be nice to see at least the same amount, preferably even more, attend every meeting of the Township Board Meetings, The DDA Board Meetings and the Planning and Zoning Board Meetings.
One of the board trustees, Vanessa Guerra, did comment at the end of the meeting that she is there for any members of the community that would like to have any discussions with her.  She and one of the residents that spoke during the public comment period both thought the idea of a Town Hall type forum for the residents of Bridgeport is a good idea.  Sadly Vanessa Guerra is running for State Representative for Michigan's 95th District.  I wish her well in the race and think she would be a good State Representative, but I would be sad to see the Bridgeport residents lose her as one of our trustees.

* A note to several of Bridgeport Township's "employees", you can glare and stare, smirk, puff your chests out all you want - You Will Not Intimidate Me :-)  I just found your behavior rather imbecile and childish.

A video of the full board meeting for April 1st. 2014 can be seen here:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

More transparency needed in the meeting minutes of Bridgeport Township boards and commissions

The meeting minutes of the Bridgeport Township Board's monthly meetings are provided on their website Bridgeport Charter Township . They have the meeting minutes posted going back to January 3, 2012 but there are no minutes for December 2012, not sure why that month is missing.
The Michigan Open Meetings Act states "What must be in the minutes – at a minimum, the minutes must show the date, time, place, members present, members absent, any decisions made at a meeting open to the public, and the purpose or purposes for which a closed session is held. The minutes must include all roll call votes taken at the meeting.  The OMA does not prohibit a public body from preparing a more detailed set of minutes of its public meetings if it chooses to do so."
The Bridgeport Township board provides only the bare minimum required to be in compliance with the open meetings act.  Why not provide more detailed information including the public comments made?

The Bridgeport Downtown Development Authority also provides the minutes to their meetings on the website and do give more detailed information of what went on at the meetings.  There are 2  meeting minutes missing from the website, the August 14, 2013 meeting and  the December 11, 2013 meeting.  The minutes posted only go back to June 12, 2013.

The Bridgeport Planning & Zoning Commission also holds meetings but I am unable to tell for sure how often by looking at Bridgeport's website since there are only two meeting minutes posted,  for a July 29, 2013 meeting and a August 21, 2013 meeting.  They do give detailed minutes of what went on at the meetings.

I am assuming that you could request to see any of the meeting minutes for these boards and the planning & zoning commission by going into the township office and requesting to see them.  Many residents are probably not even aware of these meetings being held or can't attend them due to various reasons. Interested parties may find it hard to even get to the township to request to see the meeting minutes.  It would be better for transparency reasons to have a more detailed record of the meeting minutes and to have them all posted online to make them available to all the residents and any interested parties at any time.