Jesse Lambert Holly Township Supervisor Elect_ 2008

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Jesse Lambert Holly Township Supervisor Elect_ 2008 Powered By Docstoc
					                     Jesse Lambert
          Holly Township Supervisor Elect, 2008
                           Economic Analysis for the
                         Village and Township of Holly
                          Oakland County, Michigan


This is an analysis of the Township and Village of Holly. This report uses news
 articles, data, and the writer’s experiences to support the conclusions drawn
  within. Please read this with an open mind and attempt to understand the
suggested strategies from the viewpoint of a leader. This report is not meant to
  defile anybody or any group of people, but instead allow any reader a new
                  understanding of the community they live in.
                   Table of Contents
 Topic                                    Page

Overview                                   2

Analysis of Strengths and Opportunities    4

Analysis of Weaknesses and Threats         9

Environments                               12

Financial Assessment                       15

Strategic Issues Facing Holly              16

Plan of Action                             17
A Final Word                               20

Appendix A                                 21

References                                 22

                            A Brief Overview

Nestled in the outdoor recreation belt of southeast Michigan, Holly was founded

around 1831. (History of Holly, 2008) Plenty of railroads, lakes, and public parks

dot the landscape. Being in the northwest corner of Oakland County, Holly reaps

the benefits of excellent county and local level services for its people while

creating a very relaxed living environment. (see Appendix A)

The political structure of Holly’s estimated 10,000 inhabitants consists of two

governmental bodies. (“Holly township,” 2008) The Village of Holly occupies a

smaller area within the Township of Holly. Between Rose and Holly Townships

the Village is essentially ‘land locked’ by two other municipalities. (“Base Map,”


Decades ago the downtown area was filled with businesses; Holly had its own

grocery and hardware store, clothing boutiques and all other manners of frivolity.

These businesses filled the brick and block buildings in what was the d owntown

area and the heart of the community. Then development happened; not in Holly;

but around it.

The surrounding cities of Fenton, Grand Blanc, Flint and Auburn Hills developed

very quickly in the mid and late 1990’s during the national economic boom.

Conveniences that weren’t present in the south Genesee/northwest Oakland

County area began to grow. Even worse; the perceived demand for products

offered by companies such as Home Depot, Target, and Kohl’s started sapping

away at Holly’s consumer base. Business slowly started to deteriorate and some

businesses that did stay, moved away from the downtown area.

Failure to strategically plan and local culture resisted the change that was taking

place. Runarounds and lack of communication caused many business growth

plans to go stagnant. This soon became the social norm for Holly as residents

started frequenting the neighboring towns to fulfill their needs and wants. Now as

it comes increasingly important to achieve subsistence newer residents joining

the community are genuinely pushing for a positive change.

These citizens demand Holly’s leaders to step up to the development plate and

take a swing. Top issues to many citizens posting to Holly’s unofficial blog, are community development, and public services.

Holly is coming up on its 2008 elections, which places the current township

leaders at risk of loosing their positions. Most members of the community both

young and old have high hopes of sudden and rapid change in order to restore

power to the people and make Holly a more desirable place to reside.

        Analysis of Strengths and Opportunities

Holly has much strength and even more opportunity. These strengths include

location, public park access, and low taxes. From these strengths are born

unique opportunities. Holly could take advantage of its public parks by creating a

tourism plan or marketing its natural resources just as the state of Michigan does.

Other opportunities include creating a government with a very open

communication style and building that government to serve the people of the



Holly has a very strategic location. The town is an easy five-minute drive to

highway access at any point within its boundaries. Another fifteen minutes can

get you to US-23, Auburn Hills, Flint, Pontiac, and Fenton. These are commercial

and retail hubs that are very respectable and have a lot to offer patrons and

business owners.

Holly is the northwestern most of the townships in Oakland County. We receive

excellent road commission services from Oakland County as well as receiving

state police protection for our Township and privatized police protection for the

Village. Oakland County is one of the wealthiest counties in the USA, and they

have superb court and administrative services. Holly is very lucky to have access

to the county level services provided by Oakland.

Holly is also very disaster proof. The rolling terrain provides little flood hazard

and tornados happen once in a blue moon (although not of late). Snow is always

a safe bet in Holly, as the non-urban atmosphere does not shake off snow like

metropolitan areas such as Troy and Macomb Township.

Public Park Access

Numerous state recreation areas flank Holly. Taking up nearly the entire

southeast corner of Holly Township is Holly State Recreation Area. This park has

plenty of campgrounds, lakes, and trails for potential thrill seekers to explore and

enjoy. Dominating the southwest corner is Seven Lakes State Park. This park

has plenty of lakes for fisherman and hiking trail s for outdoor enthusiasts. Seven

Lakes is already a popular attraction for locals due to its respectable beaches

and almost weekly events for children.

Inside the village there are over five public parks that allow community members

to walk the Shiawassee River basin, go boating, fishing, swimming, hiking,

canoeing and picnicking. These smaller parks provide a nice break up to the

monotony of the dense housing that makes up most of the Village of Holly.

Low taxes

Holly Township has a very low tax bracket in comparison with the rest of Oakland

County. As of 2004, Township taxes were 25.0905 mils (Holly School District)

and 24.8163mils(Grand Blanc School district), both tax rates are well b elow the

Oakland County average of about 30 mils. The Village on the other hand, has a

tax rate of 40.5256 mils. The Village does offer more services, and they have

more capital assets, liabilities and maintenance costs. This is why they are in a

higher tax bracket than the township. (Homestead Tax Rate by Township, 2004)

A lower tax bracket encourages people and busine sses to move to your town

because the cost of living and doing business is lower than in municipalities with

higher taxes. The trade off is that some administrations, such as Holly Township,

do not have a whole lot of services to offer. Development of thos e services is

tougher and the challenge lies in fiscal planning and creative leadership.

Holly and Tourism

Holly has all the right tools to begin building around our strengths. Events such

as the Carrie Nation Festival, Summer Happenings, Wednesday car sh ows and

the Seven Lakes Balloon Festival are just some of the less advertised events that

could become staples of the community in the future. The rural country feel of

Holly that we have created would provoke a relaxing feeling in even the most

dedicated urbanite. Couple that relaxed feeling with the comforts and

conveniences and you have successful framework for a healthy Holly.

Business Growth

Partial developments, empty buildings, and vacant lots give Holly an unappealing

look. A vacant building on Fish Lake road, and a lot on Grange Hall Road are

among top priorities. Many of these areas are prime commercial lots. There is so

much untapped potential within the boundaries one really has to wonder why we

aren’t in much better economic shape. Could any ot her factors in the system be

holding Holly back?

A look at Holly’s master plan of zoning can tell you several things, there is a lot of

residential zoning, and Holly is very distinctly separated. (Holly Township Master

Plan, 2004)(“Land use statistics,” 2001) While different densities of residential

lots dominate Holly’s landscape the main commercial and business districts rest

to the south around the village and in the northeast corner adjacent to the Dixie

Highway access point. Holly needs to find a way to bring in businesses that will

satisfy or create a demand for their products or services. The separation of

business and residential zones is spectacular as this bodes well for comfort of

living and real-estate value.

Niche Marketing

Due to Holly’s economic policy in the late 1990’s and early millennium years the

town is in a very unique marketing position. With big box retail and large scale

commercial developments no more than a fifteen minute drive away, Holly must

find a niche market to satisfy in order to bring consumers in. This opportunity is

not one that is very common in Oakland County and other suburban areas that

allowed quick and easy big box development. We have set ourselves up for a

very rare and unique opportunity in the economic evolution of a community.

We have many successful business owners in town, many of them reside in

downtown Holly and its adjacent streets. This is where we can really define

ourselves. Downtown has a lot of very neat shops but Michigan is under the

impression that Frankenmuth is the happening place for “little shops”. Holly

needs to play to its strengths and begin marketin g itself differently. This will help

generate a customer base for Holly’s newfound image and drive traffic past our

smaller shops. This niche market can’t be that of any other organization, we need

to really consider breaking ground in something new and un heard of. (renewable

energy, outdoor recreation, etc)

An Open Slate

Holly is not a very bloated government. This is both good and bad. While we

don’t have a lot of resources to work with, Holly has generated a very exclusive

opportunity to couple government with current technology in order to build a

community that is led by the voice of the people. Cable access, the Internet, and

open town hall meetings are just some of the tools we can use as a community to

take advantage of this distinctive opportunity.

           Analysis of Weaknesses and Threats

Holly’s Economic situation has been slowly deteriorating due to neglect in the

three primary facets of society, people, government and the system they form

together. Systemically any strong deficiency in one category wi ll lead to

detriments in the others, if unchecked a stagnant trend will develop. Holly’s main

three weaknesses are bad communication, no clear purpose, and economic

development. Equally important to identifying Holly’s weaknesses are to

recognize the threats that are stifling the community. The top three threats

include outside economic influence, bad communication, and poor leadership.

Bad Communication

Like a virus, bad communication practices have penetrated Holly’s societal body

and have caused tremendous complications. In an era where technology should

allow for ease of communication and access you would think the leadership of

Holly would put in place an efficient mechanism to help support communication

between all parties. This hasn’t been the case.

If you take a look at both Holly Township and the Village websites, you can see

that they do not put forth an adequate effort in making information easy to find by

citizens or other beneficiaries. How can I download the latest tax forms? What

about new ordinances? Can I get a copy of the township ordinances or codes?

How about a business directory or non-profit section? Forums? Message

boards? Pictures?

The township and village websites make Holly look lackluster and dull.

Lack of a Purpose and Mission

Due to having two different municipalities, common ground and a shared vision

(in any amount) are very hard to put into diction and even harder to implement. If

one were to drive the streets of Holly they would get the impression that there is

little done to inform them of where they are and what Holly is good at.

In other cities and towns, signs mark municipal boundaries. These signs are

usually followed by the town slogan or some indicator as to what that town is

known for. While many may argue what Holly should be known for, this just

reaffirms the fact that Holly needs to find a strong leader that can help the people

make a confident decision about the future.

Economic Development

This issue is very touchy with the people and governments of Holly. Circa 1998

the township government ushered in a lulling era, which was essentially zero

growth and anti-commercial development. No leader(s) ever determined

economic goals for the town or solid plans on how to implement them.

Outside Economic Influence

Threats to Holly’s status began to be constructed in Ortonville, Grand Blanc,

Fenton and Waterford. All these cities started to build stronger economies with

diversified layers of business. Strong retailers such as Best Buy, Kohl’s, Wal-

Mart, Target, Home Depot, and Kroger started shifting demand away from Holly.

With these retailers came doctors, accountants, restaurants, tax dollars and

stronger infrastructures. This caused a massive exodus over time, mainly

causing the people of Holly to fulfill their needs and wants outside of their own

municipal borders.


The grease that grinds the gears of society is communication. What happens

when that grease ends up reversing viscosity and becomes abrasive? You get a

threat to efficiency and overall results.

An article in the Oakland Press concerning the water and sewer issue in Holly

Township’s Pulte subdivisions is evidence of poor communication and planning.

Residents of Holly Township pay very hefty fees in order to utilize the Village

sewer/water system. The Village manager suggested that the Township

subdivisions annex to the village to avoid paying heightened water rates simply

because they don’t reside within village limits. “…property taxes would go up. For

me, it would be a break-even” said Janet Leslie a candidate for Holly Township

Trustee. (Auchterlonie, 2007) So why not find a solution that favors all parties

involved instead of just looking at the view from your side of the fence? What

happened to the long term planning for this project? Wouldn’t the usage of

utilities be high up on the priority list?

The longer Holly governments choose to table these pressing issues the more

citizens will continue to loose trust and confidence in their local governments. As

of May of 2008, an ordinance was passed by the Village of Holly that stated

anyone tapping into the village water system pays a tap-in fee, and only pays for

the water they use. (“New water,” 2008) This effectively eliminated the premium

fee for Holly Township residents and solved the issue.



Governmental environment has hindered Holly for quite some time. Cloudy

economic policies, unclear goals and numerous scandals haven’t allowed

government to clearly convey its purpose and mission to the people of Holly. This

hinders progress, trust and cohesiveness.

From a culture aspect Holly is fed up with its leader(s). In the past several years

various petitions have been generated against the main figurehead of Holly’s

government in order to usher in an era of change. (“Petition to recall”, 2006)

The school system is very strong even though declining enrollment has run

rampant in the past several years. (“Budget shortfall,” 2008) Superintendent Kent

Barns is a very professional individual who constantly informs the community of

happenings with the school district. While recent actions have aggravated the

community, he has none-the-less been one step ahead of government in that he

informs us of what is going on rather than leaving us in the dark.


External influences range from county, state and federal governments to

surrounding city’s and their economies. Grand Blanc, which is a city to the north,

has expressed issues regarding the capacity of their sewer system. Holly must

do as any good neighbor would in order to maint ain good relations with a solid

external influence. (“Workshop planned”, 2005) Grand Blanc is afraid that their

sewer system will capsize in the event that Holly develops the northeast zone

along Dixie Highway. Since Grand Blanc agreed to supply sewer/water to that

development it would be beneficial to begin thinking about solutions to this

problem before future business owners lose interest. This may even be a reason

as to why that area has yet to be developed. Maybe we have leaders who chose

to not take on the challenges involved with the development.

Due to hardships in the economy, state and county governments have had to

pinch out several local government programs in order to meet budgetary

constraints. This has a strong pulling effect on local governments to make

cutbacks as well. This environment causes much headache and heartache for

smaller communities such as Holly. Useful programs are eliminated and fiscal

resources are tight. This is all in an effort to sustain what is left of the system.


Members and business owners in the Holly Community enjoy the rural

atmosphere and country living Holly has to offer. Stakeholders are very co ntent

with the residential atmosphere but would like to see more provided for them as

far as employment and convenience go. The stakeholders are very sensitive to

outside influences, as they have bared witness to what happens when a

community overdevelops.

Genesee County powerhouse Fenton, which is located fifteen minutes west of

Holly grew very quickly and destroyed its natural beauty in the process. Big box

stores dominate a business district the size of the Village of Holly and Fenton

residents feel the squeeze daily with heavy traffic. Fenton is the façade Holly

stakeholders visualize every time a new building is constructed or parcel

rezoned. This mantra is why the town is so hesitant when it comes to


All they needs is a strong and knowledgeable leader that they can trust. This will

allow them to voice their opinions and have them counted. A good leader will

listen and utilize the feedback provided by everyone in order to fulfill the highest

possible expectations of the stakeholders.

                        Financial Assessment

The Village

A very quick and painless financial assessment of the Village of Holly shows an

increase of 9% in total revenue. This is mainly due in part to “capital grants and

contributions and property taxes.” Operating expenses also fe ll 3% due to a

reduction in public works expenses. (Powers, 2007)

The Township

Financially the township has no real pressing issues, as there is little upkeep for

a sewer/water treatment plant, and very little administrative commitment. This

allows the Township excellent flexibility in rightsizing programs; grant money,

maintenance budgets and salaries.

In the near future, however, the Village lease will be up on NOCFA station 1 and

the township has gone ahead with a large project to construct a new stati on. This

will apply some pressure to the budget as building a fire station is not a frugal



The Village is in a fit position to ride out our current economic trend. They have

reduced their expenses and maximized their grant potential . The new DDA

director Suzanne Perreault is a very proactive leader who is dedicated to her job

and the community. She will display more than adequate initiative in supplying

the village with incoming grants for projects in the future.

The township is in a stable state in order to maintain their fiscal position. The

township spends around 10% on public services, which is very efficient. Holly

township does not have any long-term commitments or heavy liabilities that may

cause harm to their fiscal policy in the long-term future. Due to having very

minimal public administration costs the township is in a much better circumstance

than the Village. Both administrations are vastly more fiscally secure than larger

more active governments such as Lake Orion, Lapee r and Grand Blanc.

                   Strategic Issues Facing Holly

As a community we have many issues facing us. The ever -present pressure of

the urban sprawl has many of our older citizens very nervous about

development. This includes prominent board members and citizens alike. All

wrapped up together, the two issues of community development and culture

resistance infiltrate Holly like ants at a picnic.

These issues stem from apathetic leadership policies that started back in the

1990’s. The issues surrounding the Brewery Company, and township assessor

have contributed to why the people are in such a malcontent and untrustworthy

state. These social issues should be tackled long before an economic plan is to

be decided upon.

We can fix the lack of trust by communicating with everyone. Governments,

businesses, and the community can all benefit from mailed newsletters, a

respectable website, cable access, newspaper briefs and town hall meetings.

Another strategic issue Holly is wrapped up in is how it will manage its

sewer/water treatment situation. The Village has a nice water treatment plant, but

it cannot provide for both communities. Eventually the urban sprawl will reach

Holly, how will they deal with the importance of water and sewer services to new

residents and businesses? Will having well water and septic fields be attractive

enough to keep people and businesses moving into the community?

Most township residents have well water and septic fields; they also live in older

homes. With a lot of these homes on lakefront property several forward thinking

citizens have noticed that the lakes have become dirty. This may be part in fault

of leaky tile fields from homes bordering the lakes. Fenton, which is similar to

Holly in most respects, has very prominent and clean lake s because it has routed

sewer and water lines to most of its lakefront homes.

                               Plan of Action


Building a solid marketing plan is a main issue Holly needs to improve on. A

strong marketable presence will improve one of Holly Township’s weaknesse s,

communication. It will also help reinforce and facilitate trust, feedback and help to

develop a community centered economic plan.

Many other cities are known or named for something, for example Rochester

Hills is ‘Tree City USA’ and Traverse City is know for its national Cherry Festival.

Holly has a large amount of State Recreation area. Maybe hosting a hiking or

cycling challenge can help to create Holly’s image as a potential outdoor

recreation capital of southeast Michigan.


Holly is also in bad need of a professional website. Electronic communication is

something Holly has not sufficiently invested in. Holly’s current site is very basic

and in no way, shape or form does it maximize the potential the Internet provides

for small communities.

The site should provide message forums, email, video, and offer two -way

communication and feedback from citizens. Right now Holly residents can check

the web page to get meeting and event times, meeting minutes, but it would be

nice to stream live meetings and download videos of past meetings for reference.

Community members can get linked to our school websites and to business and

non-profit web pages around Holly.

Joint Meetings

Our community would also benefit from having more joint meetings with b oth the

Village and Township. These meetings could cover similar topics for both

governments and offer more knowledge and expertise while discussing the

issues. Parks and Recreation, zoning and strategic planning and finance

committees are just some of the boards that both administrations have in

common. They both create policies that affect one another on a constant basis,

why should both governments operate so separate from one another?

These joint meetings would help to clarify goals and priorities for both

governments and help to establish solid lines of communication. The meetings

will also be more time efficient allowing leaders more time to implement the ideas

presented in these joint meetings.

Cable Access

A cable access channel represents a very solid method of enhancing

communication. Both organizations could dig up some grant money and begin

televising meetings, special events, and high school sports so that residents will

have easier access to information. (We could synergize this with a websit e as


All of these highly marketable and people friendly ideas would help to boost

morale in Holly. They will be the tools that reconstruct trust in local government.

They will also be the glue that binds Holly together for what the future has in


Above are just some methods of helping to improve the overall experience of

being part of the Holly community. The strategies above should help to build the

framework for a better Holly.

                                A Final Word

Some of our leaders are very competent and our boards are very diversified.

Having different viewpoints should be beneficial to our community. I cannot

stress the need for efficient communication. We need to pull together as a

community and play to our strengths and improve our weaknesses. If elected I

will ensure that we move forward and for the greater good of Holly and its

community members.

Appendix A


Auchterlonie, Karen. (November 9th, 2007). Holly Homeowners get soaked. Tri-County Times.
    Retrieved Tuesday June 10, 2008 from:

Ekleberry, Nicole M. (June 10th, 2008). Budget shortfall due to declining enrollment. Tri-County
    Times. Retrieved on June 11, 2008 from:

Ekleberry, Nicole M. (April 15, 2008). New water, sewer rates on tap for village residents. Tri-
    County Times. Retrieved on June 13, 2008 from:

Dennison, Cheryl. (November 6th, 2006). County demands apology from supervisor, contract for
    assessing services could end if no apology received. Tri-County Times. Retrieved on
    Tuesday June 10, 2008 from:

Dennison, Cheryl. (November 6th, 2006). Petition to recall supervisor filed in oakland county court.
    Tri-County Times. Retrieved on Wednesday June 11, 2008 from:
Dennison, Cheryl. (August 22 2005). Workshop planned to discuss sewers. Tri-County Times.
    Retrieved on Wednesday June 11, 2008 from:

Holly DDA hires new executive director. (August 6, 2007). Tri-County Times. Retrieved on
     Wednesday June 11, 2008 from:

Holly township, Oakland County, Michigan. (2000). Retrieved on Friday June 6, 2008 from:


History of Holly. (2008).. Retrieved on Friday June 6, 2008 from:

Holly township master plan. (2004). Retrieved on Wednesday June 11, 2008 from:

Holly village, Michigan. (2008). Retrieved on Friday June 6, 2008 from:

Holly Township Base Map. (n.d.). Retrieved on Friday June 6, 2008 from: http://www.commerce-

Homestead Tax Rate by Township. (2004). Retrieved on Friday June 13, 2008 from

Land use statistics. (2001). Retrieved on Friday June 13, 2008 from:

Powers, Marsha. (June 30, 2007). Village of holly fiscal report.


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