Man hospitalized, cops called after Royal Oak development meeting turns physical

August 08, 2021, 11:43 PM

The rapidly developing city is now home to things like this. (Photo: The Griffin)

A Saturday meeting in Royal Oak to discuss a plan that would allow taller buildings along Woodward Avenue devolved into shouting and shoving between a top zoning official and resident, The Detroit News reports. 

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.

It's a flashpoint in years of development drama in the city once known for its quaint, quirky downtown. This particular debacle seemed to stem from confusion over whether the zoning official was welcome at the meeting.

"I mean, it was like Hitler showing up at the synagogue," (said former Royal Oak city attorney and city commissioner Charles Semchena, a guest speaker at the meeting). "He's the one promoting the zoning changes that everyone hates."

Read more:  Detroit News

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