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Candidate Profile: Karen Woodside Seeks Northville Township Treasurer Seat

Who do you plan to back in the election?

Here's the second of our profiles of the candidates for Northville Township treasurer.

, we asked the same questions of each candidate. There are two Republicans running for the seat in the Aug. 7 primary - Marjorie Banner and Karen Woodside.

Below are Woodside's replies. She seeks to replace Richard Henningsen, who is not seeking re-election. The winner of the primary will also win the November general election, as there is no Democratic challenger. To view our interviews with the candidates for supervisor, see .

Q: Name and profession

Karen Woodside- Attorney, Small Business Owner-Woodside Legal, PLLC, Retired
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor, Former Northville Township Supervisor 1996-2000.

Q: Number of years a resident of Northville Township?

34 years

Q: Educational and/or military background?

B.S. Psychobiology, U of D-Mercy, Juris Doctor, Detroit College of Law

Q: Why are you running for office?

I am running for Treasurer because I can make a difference in bettering Northville Township and have been encouraged by many residents to return to the Board of Trustees. My experience as township supervisor and many years as Planning Commissioner/ Chairperson, and Zoning Board of Appeals Secretary/liaison give me the expertise to carefully manage growth in the township. As fiduciaries, the Board of Trustees are stewards of the taxpayers money. We must keep taxes low while trying to provide maximum quality services. At all times, we must be mindful of costs and be fiscally conservative and responsible in our decision-making. Northville Township will be facing increased legacy costs, revenue decreases (i.e.personal property tax, revenue
sharing, and other declining income sources). Innovation is key to sharing labor and equipment costs with other municipalities where feasible. Wise management of our tax dollars in this difficult economy, insures that taxpayers receive the maximum benefit for our money. Elected officials must set the budget wisely to plan for the future of Northville Township. Tax assessments and fiscal projections must be accurately made and tax bills must be correct when they are mailed. Northville Township needs to continue to support senior citizens and recreation activities through existing programs as well as exploring additional programs for assistance that seniors need. Retired citizens want to continue to live in Northville Township and keeping taxes at a reasonable rate is
one way of helping senior citizens accomplish this goal.

Q: What are the biggest issues facing the township that you hope to address? What are its biggest successes that you hope to continue?

Keeping Northville Township a safe community in which to live is crucial to all of us. In public safety, short response times are absolutely critical and mean the difference between life and death. Police and fire response times are essential to saving lives and protecting our citizens. As trustees, our duty is to protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens while watching ways to conserve funds and expenditures. Fire response times are directly correlated to insurance rates. Continuing to encourage the high level of excellence and professionalism that our police and fire department personnel provide to Northville Township is paramount. Updating equipment and offering the best possible services within budget will continue the high quality of service and safety that we all enjoy.

High standards of development have been adhered to. The Northville Hills Golf Course property is a fine example of property which has been transformed from blighted dangerous buildings into an award-winning 7,000 yard plus tournament golf course around the original magnificent trees. (Arnold Palmer and Oakland Hills managers assisted). The state of the art storm-water management system was integrated to protect the Rouge Watershed. After 30 years of negotiations with the County, we successfully were able to finally resolve the development
of this environmentally challenged property, remediate it, and return it to the tax rolls. Detailed care was given to protect the exquisite collection of heritage climax forest trees (planted by MSU- now Veteran’s Park) on the former Wayne County property, saving an old silo from the farm. We did the same with the former City of Detroit Property on Beck Road. We also acquired Millennium Park land across from the high school with a park land millage.

The initial surge of development came as Northville Township celebrated its Centennial year. Centennial Drive was home to the Research and Development Park that lured high quality businesses to the township. We reactivated the Economic Development Commission to assist businesses. Northville Township went from being the dumping ground for the region with all of the institutional facilities no one else wanted being put here in the township that was the farthest north and farthest west in Wayne County. Almost half of Northville Township’s property was not taxable: Wayne County Child Development Center, Detroit House of Correction, Scott prison, Maybury sanatorium, and Northville State hospital, Hawthorne Center, Hines and Cass Benton Park (flood plain). At one time, when Meijer’s first came to Northville Township, there was an issue with the level of public safety services that were required as the taxes paid did not cover the cost of services. We worked cooperatively to resolve that issue. Keeping ordinances and our Master plan for development up to date minimizes costly lawsuits. There are many fine examples of how the Planned Unit Development (PUD) Ordinance and the Planned Residential Unit Development (PRUD in the past) has worked. Approved site plans under these innovative
ordinances saved natural features which enhanced the natural beauty of the land by varying the otherwise rigid setback requirements under the traditional ordinances.

Some of these developments under the innovative ordinances are fine examples of how well they worked: Country Club Village and Woodside Village, Laird Haven, Blue Heron Pointe, Stonewater, Ward Church/Northville Village Shopping Center, Northville Hills Golf Club Development, Northville Trails, Parkstone, Brookstone/Wynwood, Hills of Crestwood, Brooklane Ridge, Falls of Northville, Cascades, and numerous others that were developed around natural features with maximum preservation and minimal environmental impact. The homes in these developments are highly desirable and are sought after. Northville Commons was one of the first subdivisions built by innovative developers that also built Highland Lakes. Lakes of Northville followed. The parks, natural features were preserved, and the homes and units were more densely clustered around them. These developments have been well-maintained and remain
exemplary with use of commons land available to all residents.

Q: We've reported quite a bit on developments at the Seven Mile property, the former psychiatric hospital, and at the Robert Scott Correctional Facility. What do you hope to see done with the Seven Mile Property and Robert Scott Correctional Facility?

Future use for all of these properties has been anticipated. In the late 1980’s we received a parcel of land to be used as a park off of 7 Mile Rd. in exchange for a lawsuit for double-bunking at Scott from the Michigan Dept. of Corrections - which is now part of this development. The Board of Trustees toured the Northville State hospital, and at one time considered using the gymnasium, pool, and auditorium for the Northville Community. As a long-time Planning Commissioner and Planning Commissioner/ Chairperson, as the PUD Ordinance sub-committee chairperson, we were instrumental in drafting the ordinances and the Commission/Board implemented the Planned Unit Development Ordinance. The PUD ordinance was specifically for large parcels of land particularly mindful of the many abandoned institutions. We proactively made sure that ordinances were revised to anticipate future development of the large blighted parcels. The planning commission approved the Woodlands protection ordinance before Country Club Village and Woodside Village were developed. Saving trees through Woodland protection ordinances, preserving natural features and wetlands is essential. We conducted a tree survey with the help of an MSU intern. Acquiring and maintaining open space and recreational land as part of the development will ensure future stability. The property should be developed as planned and the Township will work cooperatively with the developers to see that the plans are implemented.

Q: Anything else you would like to briefly add?

We have a fine township with a bright future. We are at a cross-road. Last fall the Legislature talked about eliminating townships and villages. There is no question that we need to consolidate services with other municipalities and look at money-saving alternatives. Daily on the local news you see cities, townships that have to eliminate critical public safety jobs and have to make serious cuts as revenues shrink. Smart and conservative spending is essential to future stability. I also demand the highest ethical standards from myself and others. There has been a false accusation made recently that I instigated a lawsuit against high school construction. This is patently untrue. The Township Board of Trustees, approximately twenty bordering homeowners, and the Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Townships Association all engaged in litigation after the local school board refused to cooperate with the township’s zoning requirements for building the high school. They wanted to put 120 foot high floodlights on the lot line of the homeowners; Wayne County Public Services shut them down after they refused to abide by stormwater detention/retention standards and flooded out the homeowners behind the school with a disastrous mudslide. A doctor had to be extricated from his house to go to work by township emergency personnel, and bordering homes were damaged. The State Fire Marshal’s office made numerous revisions to the site plan along with others. I left the township in 2000, yet the Michigan Supreme Court heard and decided the case in 2003. I fought for our residents, and would do the exact same thing again. I work for our citizens and Northville Township is fortunate enough to have two superb public school districts to cooperate with. I am an independent person who is beholden to no person or group-I work for you. I settled many lawsuits and potential lawsuits for the township.

Finally, I have been involved in many civic, church, and community activities. When the Fourth of July parade almost ended-we started “Celebrate Northville”, to continue the fine tradition from 1877 of the 4th of July Festivities: we planned the parade, the Mill Race activities, Concert at Beck Road Park, and the Fireworks from 1995-1999. Many people worked to continue this wonderful family tradition to celebrate our country’s birthday. The parade was then taken over by the Northville Twp. Community Foundation. I am very proud to live in Northville Township.

For more election coverage details, see our

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