Outgoing Members Honored, Church Ordinance Reviewed

by DREW HOWARD

The Rochester Hills City Council recognized outgoing members Kevin Brown and Thomas Wiggins for their hard work and dedication to the city during its latest meeting on Monday, November 13.

Brown ran for re-election this November against Jenny McCardell, narrowly losing with 49.66 percent of the vote. Wiggins will be leaving the council after deciding not to run again.

Council members took turns expressing their gratitude for each member, starting first with Brown.

“It’s been my pleasure to serve with Kevin these past four years,” President Tisdel said. “Kevin has been very thoughtful and calm. He was always a conciliatory voice, bringing us together and finding a way that we could work out just about any issue.”

Brown was visibly emotional when he took the stand to say his goodbyes. In addition to thanking his fellow council members, Brown also addressed his narrow loss and the importance of voting.

“The difference in this election was just over one person per precinct,” Brown said. “If you ever think your vote doesn’t count, remember that 39 votes decided whether or not I was up here for four more years.”

Several council members noted Mr. Wiggins’ insight into budget-related issues along with his witty sense of humor. James Kubicina thanked Mr. Wiggins for “keeping him loose” with his humor as well as his key role in bringing him onto the council.

“I owe everything for being up here to Tom,” Kubicina said. “He and I served on the RARA board together, and at the time I was a citizen representative. He informed me of an opening on the council and said that I should come out and take a shot at it. I did and he sponsored me, and I was able to get in thankfully.”

Both Brown and Wiggins were presented with plaques commemorating their service before the council moved on to their regularly scheduled meeting.

During public comment, two residents approached the stand with complaints about an ordinance allowing churches to be permitted in neighborhoods under certain conditions.

Nina Kelly, a resident of the Judson Park neighborhood in Rochester Hills, is currently in the process of selling her home. She expressed concern over the possibility of a church moving in next to her new home, and asked city council members to reconsider their decision.

“When I buy a home in a neighborhood, I really like the idea of living in a neighborhood with just residential homes,” Kelly said. “I would ask that you guys reconsider this because we really do want to stay in this city. We want to make sure our next purchase is a little more secure in knowing that it would just be single or rental homes all on one street versus having a church pop up.”

Bryan Roback, another resident of the Judson Park Neighborhood, took the stand after Kelly to address the same issue. Roback said he is worried he will have a hard time selling his home as the corner of his lot touches the new church’s lot.

“My problem isn’t that it’s becoming a church, but the fact that my entire backyard is going to be changed into a parking lot, which I have to look at out my back door and back window,” Roback said. “My primary concern is my property value.”

Vice President Morita said the council has expressed similar concerns to those of Kelly and Roback, and has already taken the step to place a temporary prohibition on such activity until the council can take a closer look at the ordinance.

Morita added that the ordinance will not affect all neighborhoods in Rochester Hills, as the prospective site needs to have a right-of-way in length of at least 86 feet. According to Morita, most residential streets are only 60 – 66 feet wide.

The council also approved a second reading and adoption of a new ordinance that will minimize the penalty for minors in possession of alcohol. Under the new ordinance, minors will be charged with a civil infraction instead of a misdemeanor. President Tisdel said the ordinance will become effective immediately on Monday, November 20.

The next city council meeting will take place on Monday, December 4. To watch a video of the council’s latest meeting in full, please visit the council’s YouTube channel titled “Council Meetings – City of Rochester Hills.”