Editorial by Jim Nelson

Coming up is the six month anniversary of the election which fired the Board which hired the Township's first Township Manager.

Nevertheless, our new Township Board, bullied by Trustee Jacki Otto, and her narrow constituency, Chick, Dockett, and Beliger, is again jamming an unwanted Township Manager down the throats of Township Taxpayers.  On Thursday May 4 the Board held a special taxpayer dollar wasting special meeting to cull the resumes of those would-be Howard Finks willing to work for the low salary proposed by our Board.  

This will be the six month anniversary as well of the Township being run "just fine" by the elected management team of Supervisor Chockley, Clerk Kathy Manley, and Treasurer Lenore Zelenock. 

They're being horribly underpaid for this.  Underpaying the elected representatives is a creepy idea dating back to the Trusteeship of Mark Stanalajczo, a 2008-2012 era appointed replacement Trustee who was thrown out of office in 2012.   The objective on its face: that underpaying elected representatives would balance out the money paid to a manager and his staff.  It was never even close to truth.  Only a few innumerate rubes actually believed in the premise. 

The real reason was to make it impossible for an ordinary citizen to aspire to run the township.  No one could afford to do the Supervisor's, Clerk's, or Treasurer's duties for $12,000 per year.  Instead an outside hireling, one beholden to and easily controlled by a few Board members or worse, non elected outsiders, would control access to power and services and planning in the township.  This is a standard political scam for stealing power from taxpayers and their chosen elected officials.

We saw what happened with deposed Manager Howard Fink.  The 2012-2016 Board did nothing to control him.  They were invested in pretending that he was doing a good job.   In return, he stroked their precious egos.  Every chance he got, Fink told them how wonderful they were, what a joy they were to work with.  Trustees Otto and Chick backed his distortions, mendacity, and self serving all the way to the end.  They paid lip service to citizen complaints, "shared" and tut-tutted their concerns - but they did nothing.

The same thing will happen with any new hire.  What's ironic is that this bullying, manipulation, self serving, and twisting of facts is the defining characteristic of the swamp that so many of you voted to drain in Washington.  Well, it isn't working there.  Maybe you should look a little closer to home, where you've got some influence, or did. 

The Swamp is in Northfield Township. 

Meeting Docs




By David Gordon

On September 16, 2015, a new Township Planner inroduced herself to Northfield Township.  Beckett and Raedar's Leah DuMouchel presented her analysis of the 1996 and 2010 Township community surveys.  These were her conclusions:

  • The previous surveys were constructed well enough to offer actionable data.
  • Resident priorities have been broadly determined.
  • The top three priorities are natural features, downtown development, and recreation.
  • Residential development does not appear to be a strong enough priority to justify amending the master plan at this time.
  • Specific questions remain for which community input would be valuable.
  • Community engagement tools other than a survey may be more appropriate to gather that particular data.

She said attitudes toward preservation and development changed little during the fifteen years that separated the two surveys.  And that no dramatic population shifts have occurred since 2010.  She recommended we stop the Cobalt survey, which was stalled in discussions between the Board and the Planning Commission.

Immediately following her presentation, she was assailed by members of the Planning Commission (as seen in the video).  In subsequent meetings, her recommendations were repeatedly dismissed as “merely your opinion”.

DuMouchel's character was publicly besmirched by Township Manager Fink at the Dec. 8 Board meeting. (Link to video: End of meeting where “Chick asked Fink about items billed)  Link to video:  Fink charging Planner DuMouchel with “unethical” behavior because she billed the township for talking to residents.   No Board member challenged Fink’s assertion or defended DuMouchel, who was not at the meeting to defend herself.

We reached out to former township planner Doug Lewan, who said “billing for citizen interaction is a standard industry practice.  I did it for all the years we served your community.”

When informed of Lewan’s comment, no member of the Board, which included current members Janet Chick, Jacki Otto and Wayne Dockett, came to DuMouchel's defense or chastised Fink for his unprofessional behavior.   

Dumouchel quit later that month.  It was the second time in six months that our planners had quit the Township.  Consultants are seldom replaced or fired, and rarely quit.  A common industry maxim is "fire your worst client," and apparently that was us....twice.

The current Board is now considering whether to give Cobalt another $7,000 to complete the survey.  They have already paid Cobalt $9,000.





 DuMouchel's Analysis of the 1996 and 2010 Surveys (hi definition)

  • If the youtube window doesn't work, click here.  The slideshow pdf can be viewed or downloaded here.


More reading, relevant reports:

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by David Gordon

Northfield Township residents on Nov. 8 elected an all-Republican Board of Trustees that will take control of local government on Nov. 20, including a completely new administration comprised of Supervisor Marlene Chockley, Clerk Kathy Manley and Treasurer Lenore Zelenock .

They will take on the task of running the township along with re-elected Trustees Jacki Otto, Janet Chick and Wayne Dockett and newcomer Tawn Beliger.

Vote Tally

Northfield Trustee  Votes Percent
  Jacqueline R. Otto (R) 2238 14.57%
  Janet M. Chick (R) 2219 14.45%
  Tawn Beliger (R) 2194 14.29%
  Wayne F. Dockett (R) 2128 13.86%
  Susan E. Shink (D) 1791 11.66%
  Margaret Riddell (D) 1659 10.80%
  Udo O. J. Huff (D) 1587 10.33%
  Patrick Tetreau (D) 1528 9.95%
  Kathleen Manley (R) 2202 60.43%
  Michele K. Manning (I) 1429 39.22%
  Lenore M. Zelenock (R) 2968 97.92%
  Marlene Chockley (R) 2493 58.43%
  John C. Zarzecki (D) 1765 41.36%

The new Board will face some major decisions immediately upon taking office.

Three openings will occur on the Planning Commission by Dec. 31, as Ms. Chockley cannot continue to serve on the PC and also as Supervisor.  The terms of PC Chair Ken Dignan and member Mark Stanalajczo expire as well.    

In addition, the Board must weigh whether to renew the township manager’s contract.  The cost is substantial - about $150,000/year.

The Nov. 8 winners all ran on a platform of respecting residents, transparency and fiscal responsibility, three things that were in short supply these last four years.

In addition, candidates Chockley, Manley, Chick and Otto outlined their goals as:

  • Fostering residential development in accordance with the Master Plan.
  • Revitalizing downtown Whitmore Lake.
  • Helping Whitmore Lake schools attract new families.
  • Aggressively recruiting new businesses to expand the tax base and
  • Protecting natural areas and farmland.

Although their goals were listed in that order, both Otto and Chockley said all the items were equally important, and that farmland preservation would be a priority.

“I am passionate about farmland preservation,” said Chockley.

Let’s hope the new Board will be more open to differing viewpoints, more transparent in their behavior, more inclusive with all residents, and more prudent with our tax dollars.

Northfield Neighbors will continue to watchdog the Board’s behavior, report their actions on this website, and alert you to anything we feel doesn’t live up to the promises our elected officials made.



EWashtenaw: https://electionresults.ewashtenaw.org/electionreporting/nov2016/index.jsp

MLive: Live November 2016 election results for Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, Jessica Haynes, November 8, 2016


Washtenaw District 2 County Commissioner

 17 of 17 Precincts Reporting - 100% View Precinct Detail
  Dan Smith 6639 2995 9634 46.50%
  Michelle Deatrick 7652 3349 11001 53.10%
  Write-In 67 16 83 0.40%


State House - District 52 - General

Michigan - 40 of 40 Precincts Reporting - 100%
  Name Party Votes Vote %
Lasinski, Donna Dem 27,612 52%
  Clark, Randy GOP 23,524 45%
  Borregard, Eric Grn 1,517



Whitmore Lake Public Schools (three seats)

Eliza Bivins-Fink: 1,261

Michelle Kritzman: 1,834

John Meadows Jr.: 1,593

Laura Schwennesen: 1,631

Precincts counted: 6 of 6


Countywide road, pedestrian/bicycle path millage

Yes - 118,564    No - 48,470    Precincts counted: 141 of 141

Veterans relief tax

Yes - 121,700    No - 44,548    Precincts counted: 141 of 141

Regional transit tax

Washtenaw County:    Yes - 93,994    No - 73,270   Precincts counted: 141 of 141

Macomb County:    Yes - 148,159   No - 222,806    Precincts counted: 337 of 337

Oakland County:    Yes - 292,401   No - 293,510   Precincts counted: 520 of 520

Wayne County:    Yes - 359,244    No - 322,447    Precincts counted: 1,170 of 1,171


Yes - 893,798    No - 912,033


Northfield Township Supervisor

  View Precinct Detail
  Marlene Chockley 1765 0 1765 58.81%
  John C. Zarzecki 1229 0 1229 40.95%
  Write-In 7 0 7 0.23%
Northfield Township Clerk View Precinct Detail
  Kathleen Manley 1538 0 1538 59.77%
  Michele K. Manning 1025 0 1025 39.84%
  Write-In 10 0 10 0.39%
Northfield Township Treasurer View Precinct Detail
  Lenore M. Zelenock 2111 0 2111 97.60%
  Write-In 52 0 52 2.40%
Northfield Township Trustee View Precinct Detail
  Tawn Beliger 1586 0 1586 14.75%
  Janet M. Chick 1548 0 1548 14.40%
  Wayne F. Dockett 1493 0 1493 13.89%
  Jacqueline R. Otto 1546 0 1546 14.38%
  Udo O. J. Huff 1103 0 1103 10.26%
  Margaret Riddell 1145 0 1145 10.65%
  Susan E. Shink 1260 0 1260 11.72%
  Patrick Tetreau 1063 0 1063 9.89%
  Write-In 7 0 7 0.07%





At a July 26, 2016 Board meeting Manager Fink presented a proposal from Soamar Jamil, the owner of Li'l Porkys restaurant and the hopeful redeveloper of the Driftwood Marina.  Jamil wants 40 parking spaces at the 75 Barker Road public parking lot dedicated to patrons and staff of the Bar and Grill into which he wants to convert the Marina.

I visited the existing 75 Barker Road parking lot.  There are eight parking spots marked on the east side, about eight on the south side, and about eight in the middle.  There were two handicapped and two regular spots by the door of the major structure at 75 Barker Road, the dome roofed former Township firehouse.  To the north of that are three more marked parking spots.  In the middle of the parking spaces by the door, projecting from deeply cracked and weed infested asphalt, is an unidentified bit of plumbing, perhaps a wellhead.

Accoring to Google Maps, the parking lot pavement is approximately 90' by 160'.  Allowing 18' one-way aisles, a crude analysis shows the possibility of 45 to 50 9'x18' parking spaces in that area.  That's if the entire asphalt area is re-marked.

The small white structure to the South of the dome-roofed former fire hall is leased to a Township Business, National In-Home Services.  Some of the parking spaces presumably go with that lease.

The Board recently voted to spend $800 on resealing and re-striping the parking lot surface, goaded into doing so by the DDA which agreed to split the cost. 

The parking lot resealing and restriping authorized at the same July 26th Board meeting has not even started.  Why?  Is that because the resealing companies are fantastically busy?  Or is it because if the Board were aware of how few parking spaces would remain available to other Downtown businesses after granting Jamil's 40 space request, the Board might object to Manager Fink's vigorously advanced proposal?


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75 Barker Road, View of parking lot entrance ffrom the direction of the US-23 exit

75 Barker Parking measurements 721w699h

Google Satellite view and measurements of paved area, approximately 90' x 160'


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On the eastern side, there is a line of No Parking - Fire Lane signs which probably mark Polly's property, but you can't tell.

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A not too attractive view from the parking lot's northwest corner


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The same perspective, including the northeast corner of the former Township Fire Hall, which the Township still owns


75 Barker Parking 10 11 2016 pic10 720w

Eight spaces are barely marked in the middle.  The condition of the asphalt speaks for itself.


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East side Entrance of the old Township Fire Hall.  Did I mention that the Township owns this property?


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This is probably a wellhead.  Trustee Dockett has repeatedly asked the Board to paint the building.


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View from Northeast corner.   The small white structure to the left (South) of the dome-roofed former fire hall is leased to a Township Business, National In-Home Services.   Some of the parking spaces presumably go with that lease.