Banner AFT COCS graphs large art only cropped 900w50pct


Cost of public services provided: water, sewer, roads, schools, fire, police,

medical rescue, etc., per dollar of tax revenue raised for each land use/zoning 

Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies are snapshots in time of costs versus revenues for each type of land use.  They provide a baseline of current information to help local officials and citizens make informed land use and policy decisions. In every study conducted during the past 20 years, farmland has generated a fiscal surplus to help offset the shortfall created by residential demand for public services.

These studies show that, nationwide, residential development is a net fiscal loss for communities.  Taxes on farmland, forest, open land, and industry generate more in tax revenue than they cost in services, while taxes on residential development fail to cover costs.

In other words, replacing farmland with residential development drives your taxes up.

The developers and a few businesses get richer.  You get stuck with the bills.

 Aynes COCS Interview 2017 05 30 v3

Northfield Township Manager Steve Aynes confirming this in a 5/30/2017 interview.  ( Watch the original Video - I always have the receipts. )


Read the 2016 American Farmland Trust Cost Of Community Services Study

Read the 2010 AFT Costs of Community Services Study - viewable as an online slideshow

Read the 2010 AFT synopsis of the Costs of Community Services Study - viewable as an online slideshow







For many years the community has wanted a viable downtown business district in Whitmore Lake.

When I left as supervisor, I left behind a concept drawing of what that may look like. It called for re-routing Main Street down Barker and then going north on the east side of US 23 and tying back in to 8 mile in a roundabout. All the parking would be behind mixed-use buildings, so it would not intrude upon the lake view and the park.

The current Board is now going to push through a housing development that would take up 17 acres of township owned land and leave us a 6-acre park.  This was never in the Master Plan. The Board had proposed one plan to the Planning Commission, phasing in business and a park, then housing. They received approval and changed it and went back with the current plan of all housing, got that approved and are ready to cut this deal without any more community involvement. I, and others, had asked that they at least send out a post card to the community since this is one of those forever decisions and needs more community involvement. They have refused to notify you. Sound familiar?

Additionally, they are also considering expansion of the sewer system funded with General Obligation Bonds. Which would mean that everyone in the township, not just the sewer users, would have to pay for it if the township got into financial trouble. That's what happened in Sylvan Township, where every taxpayer's Property Taxes were hiked 450% to pay the debt.

As I see it the issues are:

  1. In my opinion, there cannot be any meaningful lake front park without re-routing Main Street. The building of these homes would prevent any consideration of that. The small park proposed will primarily be used by the people in the new houses, an asset for the developer that we are paying for. He mandated that 50% of the sale price of $765,000 be spent on the park in the purchase agreement.
  2. There has not been an independent written appraisal done on the value of the land, which I feel is a breach of the Board’s fiduciary responsibility to the community.
  3. It violates the Master Plan that we approved.
  4. This is in the DDA district which means 50% of the revenue will ultimately go to the DDA, not to the township general fund.
  5. There has been no environmental impact study done to evaluate 17 acres of hard surfaces and the impact of the runoff into the lake.
  6. We need more community involvement and re-look at a long-range plan for a real downtown.
  7. Building housing there does not put money into the township. As a matter of fact, it provides negative cashflow as hundreds of Cost of Service studies have shown. The Scio study showed residential development cost $1.33 for every dollar generated.
  8. The sewer expansion should only be funded with Revenue Bonds and sewer users should pay. I do not want to be financially responsible for a sewer I will never be able to use. (Do You?)

Some members of the Board are being totally irresponsible in their handling of these decisions and are pushing this along as fast as they can to avoid more community involvement. It is election time and you may wish to seriously consider who to vote for. Please be at the township Town Hall meeting next Tuesday, February 25 at 6 PM to voice your opinion.

Michael Cicchella
Supervisor 2004-2008

This is a rudely formatted, partial transcription of the Town Hall. Two or three editorial comments excepted, the text below is verbatim, said by someone. Click the questions; click the lines of discussion. Clicking anything will take you to the point in the Town Hall video where that sentence was uttered.

A portable copy: 1/14/2020 Town Hall LiveTimeline

Informal Start

What can be done about the amount of dog feces in downtown Whitmore Lake?

Next Question: how smoothly is the application process for marijuana businesses going?

Simple yes or no: Are you ok with wastewater overflowing into our waterways?

[... yeah, I know. What storm sewers? There are none.]

?Audience: So, ironically, I was wanting to ask this question before I knew about the sewer overflowing today, simply because this has been a problem that the Township has been looking at for a very long time. So my follow up question is, are you willing now that there has been a catastrophe, are you willing to make forward momentum with getting a retention basin built?

What would the township like to see in terms of a marijuana retail store?

Why doesn't the Township put Park question on the ballot so all are aware of opportunity, if you're putting out a survey for the park next to the post office?

Why are you giving away the park next to the post office for undermarket value?

If you're putting out a survey about benches, it's all over town - what kind of benches are we going to put on the sidewalk to nowhere, then why can't you put out a survey for the park itself?

Manley - If I can just have a quick follow up on that. The park is in just the beginning stages. Nothing's confirmed.

Ciccella: When I left as Supervisor

When zoning is approved for marijuana businesses, will you continue to jam up the process?

Manley - Mr Gordon gets the last question

Gordon - I was hoping that this type of question and answer period would not become a one off and would actually become a tradition of the Board

Gordon: How can you pretend to be public servants when you don't listen to the public?

End of Stream

Sam Iaquinto was referring to the D grades given to the two North Village developer proposals. 

Chick's Response?  Denial delivered at warp speed, almost unintelligible, like the chattering of an Adderall enhanced chipmonk.  Why I have no idea.  In ordinary Board meetings, on subjects Trustee Chick is confident about, she is quite capable of normal speech.  (Any fans of David Mamet in the audience?  House of Games?  Do you know what a Tell is?)

Since then one developer has revised his proposal, revised it to the point that the township taxpayers are completely on the hook for providing a park and a beach, not for the Township citizens but for the developer's 90 homes. He's also required to build barrier between the homes and the empty space formally called a park.  What pittance remained allocated for park will be diminished by this barrier. That's whaqt barriers do.

Gone are the multistory apartments intended to concentrate renters, minimize sprawl, provide a gloss of modernity, and deflect highway noise.

Gone is the Park. Gone are the "amenities."  Gone is the Beach. 

Plenty of Fireworks parking, though: 21 whole parking spaces on Barker Road. 

Gone is any pretense that this was anything but a DDA tax grab.



2/5/2020 Northfield Township Planning Commission Agenda

2/5/2020Northfield Township Planning Commission Packet

2/11/2020 Township Board of Trustees meeting Agenda

2/11/2020 Indexed LivePacket     - What's a LivePacket?  It's a packet with a table of contents.  You can click to jump to the individual documents.


- and to think, only three short weeks ago Boardmembers Otto, Chick, and Chockley assured us that nothing was even close to being sold...

1/14/2020 Town Hall LiveTimeline 

1/7/2020 LiveTimeline: Northfield Township Board special meeting about the North Village Tract Housing bidders


[Regarding the following summation: I wrote this with just an edge of snark.  The facts stand on their own.  They're damning.]

Long story shortened:

  • The Board plans to sell North Village Park property for a song, in exchange for cheap single family homes on doublewide sized lots, 4,400 square feet max, 1/10th of an acre.  Something like the size of the Hamburg Lake cottage postage stamps. Just enough space to park a lawn mower and stand to pull the starting rope. 

Don't get me wrong.  Hamburg Lake is a cool community, but it wasn't dropped from an overpass, cookie-cuttered into existence.  It evolved.

What makes this situation Comedy Gold?  On the Agenda also is the hiring of a new Township Attorney to replace longtime Township Attorney Paul Burns.

In other words, this genius level land deal was done without an Attorney. 

Nor has Manager Aynes or the Board brought in a real estate professional.


  • The DDA has changed its mind again about 75 Barker Road. Dreams of boutique retail dance in their heads. Attentive watchers may remember that only a few short months ago, the DDA insisted on demolishing 75 Barker. WTF are those people on?


  • Supervisor Chockley now wants to renege on the agreed upon terms of selling 75 Barker. She wants to split the parcel, to keep the town's only parking lot. The neglected 75 Barker Road Firehall, a beloved but crumbling relic of yesteryear, is to be sold on its approximately 3/8ths of an acre and a sliver of parking spaces, separately.


We, the Township taxpayers, the Township's owners, have been offered $420,000 for the 3/4 acre Barker Road building - as is.

That offer is contingent upon the offering party's success in obtaining a marijuana business license.

Is that price exhorbitant?  Over the top?  The Township has listed 75 Barker for only $275,000.  Now business is fighting to buy it.   $420,000 was the latest bid.

Right next door, to the north, less than two hundred feet to the north, our Township Board plans to sell over 15 acres of what was promised to be our Lakeside Park. That 15+ acres, twenty times the acreage of 75 Barker, will be sold to a tract housing developer for only $765,000. 

20 times the acreage for less than twice the price offered for Barker Road.  How does that make sense?  Does land plunge in value 200 feet north?

$765,000 would make more sense if the proposed North Village developer were building more than houses and a space destroying berm.

It would make more sense if the revised plans left any trees in its path unbulldozed. 

It would make more sense if the revised plans hadn't beggared the dreams now entombed in the North Village Synthesis plan. 

It would make more sense if the developer were building a real park and a real beach instead of sticking Township residents with the bill, a bill we don't understand because of our Board's refusal to plan, our Board's refusal to do any of the hard work. 

What do we get instead of hard numbers?  Chockley's handwaving.  Otto's handwaving.  Chick's handwaving.  Three Trustees are placing their pride and personal ambition above the interests of Township citizens.

Over 15 acres of real estate, what any marginally aware community would call the prime-est real estate that exists, lakeside and downtown - will be sold for a song.

In exchange for what? For the promise of property taxes that will cover less than the expense of serving those properties and those new residents.  In this case, that's worsened by the parasitism of a DDA that will scoop up half the tax increase into its own - PRIVATE - coffers to spend however and anywhere they want.  Nobody elected these people.

That's money taken from the Police and the Fire Department and Medical Rescue and road maintenance.  That's money taken away from providing services to people who are residents and given to people who aren't. 

We pay the cost of development.  Do Trustees even care?  No need - it's other people's money.  


  • Also on the Agenda: Raising the cost of taking a shit in Northfield Township

Every time there's a heavy rain the volume of wastewater flowing into the Wastewater Treatment Plant rises.  We're told that the cause is "infiltration."  We're told that the pipes are old and they leak. 

Apparently they only leak inward.  Leaking outward would imply that they're leaking sewage into the environment.  Apparently our sewer system is comprised of pipes that leak in only one direction.

So we've got "infiltration" every time there's a heavy rain, the only time our Wastewater Treatment Plants nears capacity for which Chockley and Otto demand this $7,000,000+ expansion tank.


"Infiltration" from illegally attached sump pumps is more likely.  Boardmembers want you to pay the price.

So quit lying about the reason.


Boardmember Bullshit is the real infiltration.