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Royal Oak to Bordine Nursery: Thanks, but No Thanks

In the Department of What Are They Thinking?, Royal Oak’s Zoning Board of Appeals denied Bordine Nursery’s application to allow it to hold a three month sale at 4850 Coolidge, like it did in 2008.  Jeremy Carroll, writing in today’s Royal Oak Review, reports that Bordine Nursery is now planning on filing a lawsuit against Royal Oak over the issue.

In the meantime, instead of opening a business — even a temporary one — in Royal Oak, Bordine’s might hold their seasonal sale in Clawson instead.

The reason we selected Royal Oak is because we get hundreds of e-mails every year from citizens of Royal Oak that say, ‘Please bring your products closer to us.'” –Corey Bordine, owner of Bordine Nursery

Royal Oak’s Zoning Board doesn’t agree.  More on this controversy, after the jump . . .

No Bordine Flowers for Royal Oak?

No Bordine Flowers for Royal Oak?

So, why did the Zoning Board of Appeals deny the temporary sale?  It’s unclear.  A year ago the same board approved the same temporary sale.  And with a large number of vacant storefronts and dwindling tax revenues, you would think that Royal Oak would do whatever it could to attract business within the city limits.  Like Royal Oak’s questionable approach to parking, its method of attracting businesses — even temporary ones — is mystifying.

Clawson, on the other hand, is more than happy to have Bordine’s set up at a temporary location.  The Clawson Board of Appeals voted unanimously in favor of allowing the company to set up its Bordine Express sale on 14 mile road.

I have a vacant lot right now, and if we can replace it with an active business, that’s great.  -Clawson City Manager Richard Haberman

Seems like common sense, right?  Or am I missing something?

More from Versagi Voice, where it appears that this issue has inspired a local politician to run for city commission.

13 responses to "Royal Oak to Bordine Nursery: Thanks, but No Thanks"

  1. Dominique Mar 25, 2009 at 20:41

    Go figure.

    But then again, a lot of moves the city makes (and the discussion surrounding them) are mystifying. Also interesting to read the discussion surrounding the recent denial of a liquor license transfer to allow the owner of The Royal Oak Brewery to open a BBQ place at that old eyesore that used to be the Edison building…guess I’ll still be driving out to Rochester Hills for my ‘Q, too.

    The Bordine’s Express last year was convenient and I ended up purchasing something there I couldn’t find across the street…and probably wouldn’t have driven all the way up to Rochester Hills to purchase (a couple of basil plants).

  2. Eric Brown Mar 26, 2009 at 06:44

    Brandon, Great Post
    I am speculating that the folks across the street at English Garden had something to do with the City’s denial.

    I have invited Stephanie McIntyre, Downtown Manager of the DDA to comment, per the email below,

    Hey Stephanie, good Morning
    We would love to hear from you over at the to shed some light on why the City of Royal Oak denied Bordine Nursery a temporary license to sell in the city, and why Royal Oak let them slip away to Clawson?

    Thanks in advance for stopping by the and leaving a comment. We look forward to hearing from you,

  3. Babs Mar 26, 2009 at 08:02

    Are you kidding me? First the BBQ place, now this. Are our leaders TRYING to squander the what’s left of Royal Oak’s reputation? Ferndale doesn’t seem to be trying to keep businesses out – nor does Clawson. Wonder is the Zoning Board has members with some kind of interest in local businesses which are competitors.

    Royal Oak leaders – Have you noticed the empty storefronts, the empty lots, the vacant homes? It’s not a time to be picky- if a reputable, popular business wants to set up shop for 90 days, let them! Maybe, if you make an effort and if they get a lot of business, they’ll make a permanent move. Sounds like Clawson has space if we don’t.

    Time for a clean slate, I’m afraid. This will not be the Year of the Incumbent in Royal Oak.

  4. Brandon Mar 26, 2009 at 08:31

    Thanks for the comments Dominique, Eric, and Babs — I don’t have much to add, other than to say, I agree. Maybe — maybe — there’s something we don’t know. But if it went well last year and brings jobs/ customers/ tax revenue to Royal Oak, denying the permit doesn’t seem too bright to me . . .

  5. Matt Mar 26, 2009 at 08:45

    In trying to look at it from the other side of the argument, b/c we won’t know until / if Eric gets a response from Stephanie, I wonder if it has something to do with helping to steer some dollars towards the local community.
    It’s a dog eat dog world out there right now, and Royal Oak may be fighting to keep every dime in town that they can. Seems to me that instead of an out of town Nursery coming in and stealing all that business, if we can keep it in Royal Oak, the entire community will be better for it.
    I mean maybe there’s some weight in trying to attract local businesses, but at what cost? Keep trying to seduce Bordine’s to come in, and they continue to take Royal Oak revenue and send it right back up to Clarkston or GB.

  6. Brandon Mar 26, 2009 at 08:51

    Hey Matt — Maybe, that’s true. It would be great to have some explanation/ transparency from our elected leaders, rather than rumors that English Gardens has an in on the board…

    But I believe the tax revenue would stay in Royal Oak, shoppers visiting would be in/near Royal Oak for lunch or breakfast, and, over time, Bordine’s might consider opening a year-round business here. Why have our people going to Rochester, if English Gardens is unable to compete? (I don’t know if that’s the case . . . but it does seem like there has been a lot of demand for Bordine’s).

    I do doubt that Royal Oak is trying to keep every dime in town, though, when they’re denying a BBQ restaurant from using a vacant building. I don’t get it and our leaders aren’t explaining.

  7. Eric Brown Mar 26, 2009 at 09:24

    Hi Folks,
    I did here back from Stephanie McIntyre, Downtown Manager
    Royal Oak DDA per an email, copy listed below,

    Hi Eric –

    Thanks for inviting me over to your blog! I have checked it out in the past and there have been some great discussions. Unfortunately, I don’t have any comment on the ZBA decision as it is not within the scope of my work! At my job as the Downtown Manager, working for the Downtown Development Authority, I focus on downtown businesses, maintenance, events, projects, etc.

    Thanks again,


    Stephanie McIntyre
    Downtown Manager
    Royal Oak DDA
    211 William Street
    Royal Oak, MI 48068

  8. Brandon Mar 26, 2009 at 09:43

    So does the zoning board have a spokesperson? Or are they allowed to make these kinds of major decisions regarding our community without any public explanation?

  9. Eric Brown Mar 26, 2009 at 11:21

    Well, Below is Stephanie’s comments to my email about the BBQ issue;

    Eric –

    Yes, the BBQ is in downtown, but I do not have insight as to why the LCC and City Commission voted the way that they did. If you are interested in obtaining a comment from the DDA on this matter, you are always welcome to attend our meetings and pose the question during public comment. The meetings are the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 4pm in the Commission Chambers in City Hall.

    Best Regards,


    Stephanie McIntyre
    Downtown Manager
    Royal Oak DDA
    211 William Street
    Royal Oak, MI 48068

    From: Eric Brown []
    Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 8:31 AM
    To: Stephanie McIntyre
    Cc: Brandon Edward Miller
    Subject: Re: City of Royal Oak denied Bordine Nursery

    Hi Stephanie,
    Thank you for replying, much appreciated.

    What happened with the BBQ place that was voted down, that is in downtown isn’t it?

  10. Babs Mar 26, 2009 at 12:29

    st me get this straight- the only way to get a comment from the DDA is by showing up at 4:00pm on a Weds!? Why does she even have an email address, or for that matter, a phone!? This is the 21st century- we need our leaders to be more responsive to our needs on our terms. I’m at work at 4pm on Wednesdays! Even the President can take time out of his schedule to do a web town meeting. RO officials really can’t take the time to write an email or a short press release? Very disappointing!

  11. Matthew Dibble Mar 26, 2009 at 22:36

    “UGH!” Wouldn’t you know that we’d inquire and receive this information THE DAY AFTER the third Wed of the month. I was going to say “let’s go,” but I’m sure I’ll be onto some other bad move made by one of my many fearless leaders by next month.

    Anyone else think all elections should include a box that says “I’m cool. I’ll just take care of myself, thanks.”

    Sooooo… Her focus is on “downtown business” but she doesn’t have insight as to why a sorely needed BBQ restaurant (that doesn’t serve food in plastic trays) was turned down?
    With all due respect, it sounds to me like you need to get a better handle on your focus, Stephanie.

  12. Brandon Mar 27, 2009 at 18:28

    Thanks Eric, Babs, and Matthew —

    Gotta second Babs’ thoughts — most people are working during the 3rd Wednesday at 4:00 pm. We really can’t get a comment or a press release when this kind of action takes place? In the absence of transparency, rumors and questions about the motives of those voting will fill the silence (see thread over @ Soundoff).

    It’s not like Bordine’s and a BBQ place are seedy neon filled cell phone shops, payday check lenders, or porn shops . . . Come one Royal Oak! Get your act together or watch business flow to Clawson and Ferndale! See:

  13. Err, Never Mind . . . Royal Oak Welcomes Bordine Nursery! | the urbane life Apr 17, 2009 at 23:20

    […] month we wrote about the Royal Oak Zoning Board of Appeals bizarre decision