Old Town House Stirs Heated Public Comment In Tyrone Township
July 21, 2021
By Mike Kruzman & Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
Tempers heated up during the public comment period of Tyrone Township’s meeting, last night, with a pair of residents being removed for being out of order.
A debate over the fate of the old Town Hall building in Tyrone Township has been taking place since the nonprofit Residents for Community Preservation set their sights on it following the retraction of plans for an asphalt plant in the township, earlier this year. Over the course of several meetings, the RCP has often appeared frustrated with the process and speed the township is taking with it.
A survey was recently sent out to residents with several options for the Town House, including how moving the building might be paid for. One option was to use township funds, but as was explained earlier in the meeting, new opportunities for cost-sharing with the Livingston County Road Commission have become available for needed secondary streets like Runyon Lake Road.
At Tuesday’s meeting, there was a Historic Town House Committee update on the agenda. At a previous meeting, Supervisor Mike Cunningham said he would put one together. He said, Tuesday, that when he asked the people that were the most passionate about it, many were interested in who else was going to be on the committee. He said he felt that was odd, and that if you were passionate about it, it shouldn’t matter. Cunningham said he was tabling the idea, and if once they decide on a direction to go they need it, they will revisit it.
Clerk Marcie Husted then read a statement about her perceived difficulties of working with RCP, specifically calling out Sara Dollman-Jersey and Jannette Ropeta. Husted stated that they claim to want to collaborate with township officials, but their social media posts show the contrary and are “inflammatory, deceitful, and seem to be filled with hate and bitterness.” She said when they started their original Facebook group, it went by the acronym CRAP, and asked how that shows any intent to work with township officials. Ropeta denied being a founder of CRAP. Husted then said that they “chose to spend thousands of unnecessary dollars on attorney fees to fight something that the township was already properly handling because you weren’t patient with the process. How does that show fiscal responsibility?”
The clerk then further accused them of undermining the board and using bullying tactics to try and get what they want, without wanting to truly collaborate. "Collaboration means applying trust, respect, willingness, empowerment and effective communication to human relationships.” Without having those things in common, Husted said they will never get to a point where they can truly collaborate for a common goal.
Husted was interrupted by the audience, including Ropeta, who were told several times that they would get their 3 minutes during public comment.
During public comment, resident Scott Dietrich took issue with the township’s survey, saying he wasn’t going to fill it out. Dietrich said it undermines what they want and is discriminatory against non-property owners. He was stopped at the three-minute mark.
Several residents then spoke in favor of using the money towards roads instead of the Town House. One called putting efforts into the Town House a “colossal waste of money” that has been hijacked from a Facebook group that should have been resolved post-asphalt plant retraction. That was vocally refuted by others in the audience, which is out of turn with generally accepted Robert’s Rules of Orders for open meetings.
Supervisor Cunningham issued warnings, but when it was felt that people against what the RCP wants were being given more lenient time limits, tempers in the room rose. Ropeta was ruled “out of order” first and then was asked to leave. Shortly after, Dietrich was too, and he accused Cunningham of being the one who created the rift in the township. Following the meeting, Ropeta told WHMI that the township was up to something, and she accused Cunningham of editing and removing meeting videos to make them look better and her worse.
Following the meeting, Cunningham recognized that RCP is a very passionate group, but he also told WHMI that “it’s been very clear that our residents are more concerned about fixing the roads.” He said, “I think those two fashions kinda met tonight and it got a little wild and we had to get things back in order. I don’t like it when I have to ask people to leave. They were going to be given their opportunity to speak, but they wanted to speak over everybody else, so out of fairness, I had to ask them to leave.”
Dollman-Jersey, who was not present at Tuesday's meeting, tells WHMI that the people being named as “contentious” were not part of RCP's leadership. She added that what was happening in Tyrone Township is "absolutely out of control and unprofessional."