In an election year surprise, four Trustees at a barely noticed 3-31-2016 Northfield Township Board special meeting authorized Township Manager Howard Fink and Township Attorney Paul Burns to make offers on two large parcels carved out of Van Curler's freshly discounted, downtown Whitmore Lake property.  The Van Curler property as a whole includes several houses and business locations excluded from the latest parcel offers.  Last fall the entire holding, a total of 27.71 acres, had been listed at $3,300,000.00.   

15.3 acres van curler parcel, 360w

  Today's price:  A 15.3 acre parcel for $229,500.00


8.2 acre van curler parcel, 360 pixels wide

an 8.2 acre parcel for $123,000.00.


Both parcel listings were placed a week and a half following the 8 Mile Road bridge disaster.

Trustees Chick, Braun, Engstrom, and Westover voted for the proposals.  Trustee Dockett voted no, saying voters should have a voice in such a large expenditure.  The offers are to be structured as 90 day options to purchase, or as purchase agreements with a 90 day proviso for due diligence. Fink was authorized to offer up to $5,000 to option the 15.3 acre parcel at full price.  He was authorized to offer $100,000 for the 8.2 acre parcel.

Also carved out of last year's original Van Curler offering and now listed separately, 9859 North Main Street, a 2.87 acre parcel and what appears to be an old gas station is listed at $400,000.00.  The old gas station building, located on the north side of the Whitmore Lake Tavern parking lot, now bears the sign, "AFFA." 

9859 North Main van curler 360w

9859 North Main Street, Whitmore Lake


27 71 acres van curler 360w

Map of the original 27.71 acre Van Curler listing.


In the Township email meeting notice timestamped 9:35 AM, 3-31-2016, this special meeting was billed as a closed session.  Later that day, a 2:12 PM Township email notice changed that to an open meeting.   But the official meeting Agenda, which you can find below, says it's a closed session wrapped in an open meeting. 

Dockett opened up this meeting by asking if the meeting was legal, since the notice had been so confusing.  Fink had Township Legal Counsel Brad Maines explain that this met the minimum requirements of the (Snyder Era) Michigan Open Meetings act.   Fink restated Maines' explanation. 

Dockett said "Nobody had much of a notice."  At this, Fink said "We're giving people more notice than they had previously," and "We're making a closed session open so we're giving... we're creating more transparency, more openness, more information on our ..."

Dockett pounced: "But there's nobody here, Howard."  

Only four people were in the audience for one of the most potentially impactful meetings in the past decade.

Dockett's "pounce" is on page 3 of the 3-31-2016 Northfield Township Board meeting LiveTranscript.