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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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    Meeting to discuss proposed Royal Oak zoning changes sparks screaming, shoving

    Royal Oak — An assembly at an Elk’s Club lodge Saturday to discuss proposed zoning changes unraveled into a shouting and shoving match between the city’s Zoning Board chairman and a resident, according to the city’s mayor and meeting attendees.

    Accounts differ about who touched whom first, but people on both sides of the melee — Mayor Michael Fournier, Zoning Board Chairman Clyde Esbri’s attorney, and members of a group that frequently criticizes City Hall — agree there was screaming and shoving before police officers showed up at the Royal Oak Detroit Elk’s Lodge #34 on East 4th Street.

    Royal Oak attorney Jim Rasor, who represents Esbri, said his client is considering taking legal action against a resident for assault. Rasor claims the resident shoved and jostled Esbri before the zoning chairman “used an appropriate and reasonable amount of force to get him off him.”

    Members and supporters of the group RO4AR (Royal Oakers 4 Accountability & Responsibility), which organized Saturday’s meeting, tell a different story. They claim Esbri was the aggressor, and that he violently shoved the man into a door, sending him to the hospital with a shattered collarbone.

    Police did not return phone calls Sunday.

    Gerald Gorski, right, Veterans of Foreign Wars National Council, 2019-2023, at the Royal Oak Veteran's Memorial in Royal Oak last year. Controversy over the relocation of the memorial and other city issues has led to tension with some residents over city officials and proposed zoning changes.

    The meeting was organized to discuss opposition to proposed zoning changes that would allow taller structures in the Woodward Corridor.

    “Learn how the Mayor and Commissioners are attempting to destroy your single-family neighborhood & how we can fight back!” said an Aug. 1 Facebook post from RO4AR announcing the meeting.

    Fournier said he and Esbri saw the post and assumed it was a public meeting.

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