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State of emergency declared for virtual meetings

By Lisa Brody

Strictly for compliance with the Open Meetings Act, Bloomfield Township trustees unanimously approved a resolution declaring a state of emergency through December 31, 2021, at their meeting on Monday, December 14, which permits them to hold board and other meetings virtually.

The previous administration had declared a state of emergency in March 2020, in accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's statewide state of emergency. When the Michigan Supreme Court curtailed her ability to renew her declaration beyond April in early October, it nullified municipal states of emergency as well, explained attorney Mark Roberts. In order to be protect members of the board and the public, the state legislature amended the Open Meetings Act to allow municipal meetings to be held virtually through December 31, 2021, “but it requires a declaration of a state of emergency.”

“We felt it was advisable to have a local state of emergency, mostly related to COVID,” Roberts said. “This resolution is to bring the township in compliance with the Open Meetings Act.”

“We have been under a state of emergency locally since March 16,” said supervisor Dani Walsh. “It was very broad, so I'm glad to have some limitations and an end date. We can always end it earlier.”

Trustee Michael Schostak asked if they should set an end date of June 30, 2021, with the ability to vote to continue the state of emergency, or December 31, 2021, and vote to repeal. “My personal belief is we should set it sooner,” he said.

“Considering what we've been through under a state of emergency, I like that the state has this until the end of December. I would like to keep it there,” said treasurer Brian Kepes.

“I'm comfortable leaving it at December 31,” agreed clerk Martin Brook.

Trustees voted 7-0 to declare the state of emergency, ending December 31, 2021, knowing they can always end it earlier if applicable.


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