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Host called out again for spreading false information

By Grace Lovins

Birmingham City Manager Tom Markus gave another report on city commissioner Brad Host’s social media videos and letters to the public at the city commission meeting on Monday, January 9, further scolding the commissioner for spreading false information about the 2040 master plan and attending other city board and committee meetings.

Host previously posted two videos on social media perpetuating false information about part of Birmingham’s 2040 master plan, alleging the plan will be rezoning single-family homes to build multi-family homes and that the city is favoring profit over its people. Host also has spread written communications with the public providing the same information. However, the master plan does no such thing – it doesn’t rezone any properties but has the potential to influence zoning in the future by future commissions.The plan serves as a guide for future ordinances and developments over the next 20 or so years.

Markus noted that there have been numerous attempts to solicit public input on the master plan, which he says has gone on long enough, including 40 public meetings and several communications with the public encouraging comments. He reiterated comments made at previous meetings and at the beginning of the master plan process, noting commissioner should not ever engage in the process until it’s the commission’s turn to review and comment on the plan.

Even if the plan is adopted, that doesn’t mean it is set in stone. The Michigan Planning Enabling Act requires that a master plan be reviewed every five years to see if any amendments need to be made and to make sure the plan is still relevant, said Markus. Master plans are a road map that helps planners and city officials determine land use, development, reinvestment, transportation, housing, and infrastructure renovation for the next few decades – but they are not law.

Markus further clarified that only the commission could approve rezoning because it’s a deviance from the actual zoning ordinance. “The plan is not rezoning things, but it may inform future zoning … and every rezoning proposal that exists requires not only public notification but notification to persons within so many feet of the subject property, public hearings, in front of the planning board again, and public hearings at [the commission’s] table for rezoning. It’s an ordinance. Only the commission can pass the ordinances,” Markus said.

On top of Host spreading misinformation about the plan, he has attended the meetings of other boards and committees. On December 6, 2021, city attorney Mary Kucharek provided a report to commissioners that advised against any of them attending these meetings to avoid the appearance of potentially violating the Open Meetings Act (OMA).

While Markus had said at a previous meeting that he was considering which options to proceed with if Host continued to spread false information, it’s still unclear whether someone will file a formal complaint about Host to the Ethics Board, the decision of which would then be forwarded to the city commission for possible action.


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