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Holly Township doesn’t back down on Smith eviction

Written by Amy Mayhew   
Monday, February 27 2012

Timm and Maria Smith

HOLLY TOWNSHIP, Michigan –  Workers hauled bookcases, furniture, and boxes filled with family mementos from Timm and Maria Smith’s house on Monday as Holly Township officials refused to postpone an Order of Eviction.

The Smiths received an Order of Eviction on Feb. 21 stating that they had until 6 a.m. the following day to be out of their S. Holly Road home.  Oakland County Commissioner Bob Hoffman, intervened, persuading Holly Township Supervisor Jesse Lambert to extend the eviction deadline until today.

Lambert agreed, and on Thursday, called a special meeting to further discuss the matter with board members. The Smiths and their attorney Casper Connolly, along with Hoffman and a handful of concerned residents attended the special meeting, pleading with members of the board to further extend the eviction.

“I don’t dispute that the township has the right to evict this family,” Hoffman said Monday. “What I question is why they couldn’t put this off for a while until the Michigan Court of Appeals makes its decision, and so far, nobody on the board has offered me any reason for the urgency.”

A member of the eviction crew ...

Hoffman said he is most disappointed by the fact that Lambert didn’t keep his word in helping to facilitate a negotiation between the township and the Smiths.

“Supervisor Lambert called me on Feb. 22 and told me that a meeting had been set up between the township’s and the Smith’s attorneys for noon on Tuesday, Feb. 28,” Hoffman said. “Then in the special meeting, he tells me that the meeting never existed,” Hoffman added. “And in the end, they adjourned to executive session to do what?” he asked. “To set up a meeting with the Smiths – all while still evicting them on Monday before any negotiations could happen.”

Over the weekend, Hoffman said he contacted many community leaders and concerned citizens on the matter, asking them to share their thoughts and concerns for the Smith family’s welfare with Lambert.  

Lambert said the Smiths missed the opportunity to appeal the eviction by failing to file a brief with the 52-2 District Court earlier this month, and also have failed to make $1,500 monthly payments into a court-ordered escrow account since November.

“Really what it boils down to is that the Smiths have had an unlawful occupation of that home from day one,” Lambert said. “They moved back into the house without the township’s knowledge after their first eviction in September of 2010.”

Timm Smith and a friend busy t...

On Monday, Maria busied herself in a back bedroom while her husband continued to stuff clothing into a black plastic bag.

“Hey – you know, this is happening,” Maria said. “And when this comes before the Michigan Court of Appeals, the damages are going to triple for the township,” she added. “The gloves are off.”

The Smiths say they will be staying with a friend in the area until their case is heard by the Michigan Court of Appeals.


#1 circus011574 2012-02-27 16:47
I've read the articles about this but am having a hard time making heads or tails out of it. Hard for me to say who's right or wrong but I can say good luck to the Smith family, I sincerely hope everything works out for you.
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#2 Holly 2012-02-27 17:12
It is a really sad thing to have to do but is seems like the Smith family may have entered into an illegal mortgage with a bank, then failed to make payments or arraignments with that bank, then they were evicted in September and illegally moved back into the home, then they were ordered by the court to put money into an escrow account which they once again failed to do. When does their personal responsibility come into this picture? I am sure Township Officials are no more happy about the decisions they reached as the public but they are doing their jobs.
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#3 Mark Freeman 2012-02-27 18:13
The Holly Township Board has been very diligent and methodical in processing this issue over the past two years. It is important to know that the Smith’s filled a lawsuit against Holly Township and that is what initiated the legal process. The legal process is now coming to a conclusion. This is a very complicated issue.

If any resident wants to review the facts, they are welcome to visit the Township Offices during business hours,
Monday through Friday, 9AM – 4PM. There have been over 100 foreclosures in Holly Township over the past three years. Every one of them was a tragedy for the families involved, including the Smith’s.

My question is where was Bob Hoffman? Why did he decide to become involved in this particular foreclosure at the 11th hour? Why did he interfere in Township business? Why did he use all of his influence to create a media circus? This is political grandstanding at its worst. Up north in Oakland County we call that meddling.
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#4 Ryan Bladzik 2012-02-27 18:20
If Mr. Hoffman doesn't dispute the right of Holly Township to evict, then what is the point of waiting for the Court of Appeals?

Doesn't that basically imply that he believes the court would affirm the lower court's decision in favor of Holly Township, since only a property owner can evict?
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#5 TheDuke 2012-02-27 19:32
So the Township is now in charge of the ten acres that they cannot get a clear title on. So they should now be required to live by the same rules that they were pushing on the Smiths, to build a road on the property. The estimate, per the first article, was $120,000, and a simple easement was not acceptable at the time. So, Holly Township, can you please explain where this money will come from, when the road will be completed and what you intend to do with this property?

Also, can we now get an explanation from our elected officials of Holly Township as to why this was done now and not wait for the courts to rule on the issue. If the township loses, we taxpayers stand to pay a considerable sum to these people for pushing them out before due process was completed.
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#6 George Kullis 2012-02-27 23:26
When I came into the Township office today to see Jesse, you initiated a conversation with me by saying that you had read my response in the Holly Express and that I was "way off base and had let my emotions get the best of me."

I told you I thought I had made it clear that I didn't have all the facts, and had not claimed a "base". I have read my previous response and I did make that clear. All I was asking was what is the urgency? The court officer at the Smith home today told me you had 56 days from last Wednesday when the Judge signed the order to execute this order. Again the question of urgency come up.

This is a very convoluted case. You took time today to show me parts of the case ( I thank you for your time) but there are so many questions that still remain to be answered, the general public should be very concerned as to how this got to this point. Government backing of a mortgage(ie,taxpayer money) on a parcel of land that is an illegal split. Now more taxpayer money will be spent while the courts resolve this matter. Meanwhile a family is left in limbo
owning 10 acres that they can't do anything with except to sell it to you. Meanwhile several township officials have commented on what a beautiful piece of land this is and how it would make a great park/canoe livery and how we don't have any park land in the southern part of township. Those comments added to all the rest are cause for me to get involved.

Before you ask why I care or why I got involved this scripture went through my head when I got the call to help. Matthew: 25 (24-40)

Now come 2 more points regarding your post.

1.These people are his (Bob Hoffman's)constituents, they called and asked him to get involved.

2. Do any of those 100 forclosures you refer to involve the township owning part of the land leaving the debtor with land locked parcels?
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#7 Janet Leslie 2012-02-28 08:28
No one who expresses a concern before a body of government is "meddling," least of all an elected official who is speaking out of concern for his constituent.
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#8 Bob Hoffman 2012-02-28 08:40
The only thing regarding this issue that we agree is that all of these foreclosures are a tragedy. I believe the Smith family problem is unique. Until the Court of Appeals rules, we don't know who the rightful owner is. The township claims ownership to a portion of a 20 acre parcel that you cannot market, and you can't legally split because it land locks a 5-acre portion of this 20-acre parcel.

Now let me answer your questions. First, I have already told you that I became involved when I found out about the problem. The Smiths are my constituents, too. I am sorry it was at the eleventh hour. If my involvement at the eleventh hour is reason not to be allowed to try to help them, may I suggest that maybe you should have called me sooner?

This is everybody’s business - to dare to be different when you believe the different is right. Do you have the same criticism for other residents who spoke against the actions of the board? Are they also interfering in township business? It sounds like you would be happy if citizens looked the other way when they perceived an injustice was happening to another citizen.

Regarding your characterization of a "media circus," my answer is thank God for freedom of the press. If it is “grandstanding and meddling” Up North in Oakland County to help a constituent, then my suggestion to you is you should do a little grandstanding and meddling to help those residents you represent who are down on their luck.

To answer your first question – compassion. This property is not a normal foreclosure. The township will not know until the Court of Appeals rules as to who really owns this property. I think there were better ways to handle this issue where all parties could be winners. It sounds like you don't agree with me, but if you were caught in the same situation, I would be fighting just as hard to prevent you, your wife and children from being evicted. To answer your second question, the answer is NO. I have no better idea of how the Court of Appeals will rule than you do. Finally, Jesse said he was torn between what was legally right vs what was morally right. You can see from the eviction that took place yesterday what side he chose.
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#9 Ryan Bladzik 2012-02-28 10:51
If I remember my experience at Patriot Week accurately, one of the principles celebrated was the "rule of law", under which we are all equal. Morality, on the other hand, might be a little different from person to person.
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#10 Mark Freeman 2012-02-28 11:50
If a private owner wanted to split this parcel it would require a private road built to county road specs. The Township Board has not expressed any intentions for this parcel at this time. Ten acres of this parcel are owned by the taxpayers. The Township Board serves as stewarts for all Township assets. The Judge ruled for eviction. The Oakland County Court System handles these evictions under their own guidelines and time frames.
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#11 Phil 2012-02-28 13:15
Quoting Bob Hoffman:
... Finally, Jesse said he was torn between what was legally right vs what was morally right. You can see from the eviction that took place yesterday what side he chose.

Well I say thank you Jesse for doing what is legally right instead of morally right. I expect our elected officials to follow the law.

The situation is terrible, and I wouldn't wish foreclosure or eviction on my worst enemies. But it's not like this situation popped up out of the blue.
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#12 Mark Freeman 2012-02-28 13:54
Mr. Sweeny:
With all due respect, please do not jump to conclusions based on an assumption. I am not angry. I do have a healthy skepticism of Mr. Hoffman's true motives. Your Township Government does not sweep anything under the rug. As I stated earlier, all facts and information concerning this issue are avaiable for public review at the Township Offices.
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#13 TheDuke 2012-02-28 20:02
Mr. Freeman,
If the township is up front with all of the facts and information on this case, why did the board go into an executive session to discuss it, out side of an open meeting where the public can see, hear and understand the facts and debate? That does not sound so open and up front to me. I am still not convinced that the executive session was legal. There are only very few items which can legally be discussed in a closed session. Eviction strategies and plans are NOT among them. Was that also "legally right" or just hiding from the public?
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#14 Mark Freeman 2012-02-29 13:32
The Duke:
The Board went into closed session to protect the attorney client privilege. We made a conference call to the Township's legal council for a final review and comments before making a final decision.
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#15 TheDuke 2012-02-29 22:28
Mr. Freeman,
I don't believe that Attorney Client privilege alone is a legal reason to go into executive session, per the Open Meetings Act. The topic of the session still must be within and limited ONLY to one of the reasons stipulated in the sections of the law. Making a decision on an eviction is still not in the list of acceptable reasons for a public body to recess to an executive session, regardless of whether an attorney is there or not. Also, the board is not allowed to make any decisions in closed session. When the board came out of session, it asked for a committee to negotiate for the sale of the remaining parcels. Was a decision made in closed session?

At any rate, given the that the board opted to discuss the issue in closed session, removes any right to claim that everything is up front for the public. Obviously it is not.

Since there was a phone call during the executive session, was an attempt made to include Ms. Leslie, who could not attend the meeting in person? Perhaps she could have been available via phone. Was she given the same courtesy as the lawyer? or was her input not desired at that point? Curious.
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#16 Janet Leslie 2012-03-01 10:18
I was not contacted during the meeting and did not know until reading Mr. Freeman's comment here that a call was made to the township attorney.
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#17 Lee 2012-03-01 11:41
The Duke: you are correct in saying that the Open Meeting Act was violated and their meeting in closed session did not meet the criteria for such..NOW, what do we do about it?????
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#18 Mark Freeman 2012-03-01 12:48
The Duke: I stand by my statement.
Ms. Leslie: You were excused from this meeting. It should be noted that prior to this meeting, you voted with the majority on all motions concerning Mr. and Mrs. Smith's lawsuit and the disposition of this parcel of land. This concludes my remarks on this issue. If any resident has further questions or would like additional information, please contact or come into the Township Office.
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#19 Melendym 2012-03-01 13:34
I'm sorry about this situation, but the Smith's knew this was coming. It sounds like a series of unfortunate events, but I don't see how blaming the government officials for following through on their job is right. The laws on every level are there to protect ALL the people, not just the whiners.
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#20 Jason M Hughes 2012-03-01 13:59
Before we start filing Open Meetings Acts violations please look at the OMA and what it lists as reasons a governing body could enter into closed session...

(1) to consider the purchase or lease of real property;
(2) to consult with its attorney about trial or settlement strategy in pending litigation, but only when an open meeting would
have detrimental financial effect on the public body’s position;

The document that this is found in was prepared by the Michigan Legislature.
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#21 TheDuke 2012-03-01 19:23
Jason, The Township board was not considering the purchase or lease of real property, as they believe that they already owned it. As far as the pending litigation, the Township board was obviously not concerned with that either or they would have waited for the outstanding suit to be completed before taking action. If the lawsuit goes against them, then this could have huge implications for the Township.
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#22 Jason M Hughes 2012-03-01 19:48
The Duke, I attended the meeting. It boils down to the fact that none of us know exactly what was discussed in closed session BUT the motion made when the board came back out of closed session was to negotiate for the other pieces of property. And being that the case is in appeals I would think that discussion would fall under strategy regarding pending litigation. This would mean it wasn't an OMA violation unless the motion to go into closed session waz made incorrectly.
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#23 amayhew 2012-03-01 23:37
The township made the motion to go into closed session without stipulating what they would be discussing. Here is the unofficial transcript of what was said:

Item number 3 legal business – would a board member like to entertain a motion to enter closed session?

Um, before, before we enter into closed session then, we, I would recommend that we move public comment – final public comment to number 3, or to 2a and make 3 legal business, and go into closed session so that the public doesn’t have to wait until the closed session is completed before they can make their final public comment.

Are you making that a motion?

That’s what I’m advising that we do. It’s a motion.

OK. Would anybody else like to make a motion on the floor?

Any discussion? OK. Then I make a motion that we move public comment to 2a.



Motion made by Mr. Freeman and supported by Mr. Ruth. All those in favor say aye.
(Ruth, Freeman and Winchester say aye.)

All opposed? Nay. Three ayes, one nay. Public comment. The floor is now open to public comment. Yes sir?

I just have a question. After your executive session, will you be coming back here to vote and discuss the issue you discuss in executive session? We’d like to stay for that if there is some thought that you’re going to be voting on something.

Not to my knowledge. There is no – ah, come out to make a vote. Not that I have been made aware of – not that I plan on making myself. Um…

You have to come out of closed session.

Session. Yeah…you …( non understandable)

Right. I guess my question is, if there is a chance you‘re going to be voting on something, the public doesn’t want to leave – or some of the public might not want to leave, and we want to see what your motion and what your vote is. I actually hope you’re voting on this eviction.

I think that’s a good point. So we should just leave it the way it is.

So maybe we take our closed session into the office and then come back.

That would be fine.


So we should just sit tight is what you’re saying?

I make a motion to rescind my motion.

I second that motion. We rescind the prior motion to keep public comment after item 3 on the agenda. All those in favor say aye.

(Everyone says aye)

OK. Public comment is back under legal business. Anyone like to make a motion to enter closed session?

So moved.


Motion by Freeman, supported by Mr. Ruth, all those in favor say aye.
(All say aye)
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#24 Lee 2012-03-02 07:51
Thank you, Amy...I stand by my first remark..
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#25 TheDuke 2012-03-02 19:47
Jason, Per the comment from Mr. Freeman above, they went into closed session to protect attorney client privileges, which is not a valid reason, per the law. I would have to go back and check, but believe that they should have included the reason and section of the law that allows them to enter into a closed session. Just a motion to enter it is NOT acceptable, certainly not when they later claim that everything is open and available.
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#26 Joe 2012-03-03 01:13
This all seems entirely overly played in the paper here.

Unless I've read incorrectly, it seems that the Smiths didn't pay their bills and thus they don't get to keep what the bank loaned them money for. Even if Holly Township is not the rightful owner of the property under appeal, is it really possible that the Smiths are?

Now we have all the anti-government folks coming out claiming seizure of property (nevermind that our country was founded on this concept - hello Native Americans) and declaring OMA violations.

We have a lawsuit by the Smiths and comments by Mrs. Smith looking for a wrongful death lawsuit in the future should her husband's health deteriorate (that will go nowhere but in some lawyers pockets).

I saw a few comments regarding Mr. Smith's health just prior to the eviction and then what looked like picture of him moving out only days later.

Seems like a lot of drama for a pretty ordinary situation. Don't be a leach, pay your bills and no one asks you to move out of your home.
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