Condo collusion and contaminated land?

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Today I share another “shocking” report involving apparent collusion between a City and a developer.

The City of Rockford has a council of five. Because neighboring property owners objected to Marcel Burgler’s development proposal, Council would have needed at least 4 votes in favor to approve the project. They were only able to get 3 votes.

So the developer sued the City. Then the City Council voted 3-2 to settle the lawsuit, with the stipulation that the land would be rezoned from Industrial to Residential PUD (Parcel Unit Development). That now makes it possible for the developer to proceed.

Talk about exploiting a gaping loophole.

If you read to the end of the article, you see that this whole deal involves the City unloading a parcel of contaminated land. I would guess that the City is motivated by the prospect of collecting property taxes from 51 condo units, rather than collecting nothing from a useless parcel of land.

But what about potential health and safety risks to future inhabitants? Apparently that’s not of concern to a majority of City government officials.



Judge accuses Rockford, developers of ‘chicanery’ in controversial condo project (MI)

ROCKFORD, MI – A judge has accused the City of Rockford and a developer of “chicanery” to gain approval for a controversial condominium project.

Kent County Circuit Judge Donald Johnston said it appears the city colluded with the developer of the 51-unit project and “cleverly undermined (opponents’) democratic rights.”

Sounds to me as though the City is up to some chicanery, that they couldn’t get the majority vote for something they wanted, or they had a majority vote, but not a supermajority, and that they took this somewhat circuitous and vaguely devious means to get the re-zoning approved without complying with Michigan law,” Johnston said, according to a transcript of an April hearing.

“And isn’t that really a surreptitious means of subverting Michigan law?”

Grand Rapids developer Marcel Burgler’s project would include eight 1,400-square-foot ranch-style units, 15 1,100-square-foot townhouses and, in a three-story building at the east end of the property, 28 flats measuring 900 square feet.

The land was formerly industrial property with contamination from the former Burch Body Works. The developers have agreed to pay $400,000 for environmental cleanup, city officials say.

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