Royal Oak leaders appeal after judge says future location of veterans memorial will go to voters

A judge ordered that voters will decide whether a war memorial in Royal Oak will stay in its current spot or be moved during renovations.

The city had plans to move the Veterans War Memorial within the area where it already is, about 40 feet from its current location. However, that decision angered veterans, who said the memorial should not be moved and the public should have input.

"It was placed in a perfect location and it should not have been moved in the first place," said Tom Roth, the commander of the city's American Legion Post.

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A judge ordered that the proposal would be on the ballot to let voters decide if the memorial would be moved.

However, in a special session of the Royal Oak City Commission on Wednesday night, the city appealed the judge's ruling.

"They do not want voters to get their hands on this issue because voters are smart. They will disagree with the commission," said Chuck Semchena, the attorney for veterans. "Hopefully they get voted out of office also."

Related: Veterans upset over planned move of war memorial during park redesign

Candidates are gathering signatures to run against the mayor and commissioners.

Meanwhile, Mayor Mike Fournier disagrees with what the veterans are saying.

"True Royal Oakers are excited about opening a new citizen-designed park in the heart of our vibrant downtown- including a more accessible war memorial. Most veterans and citizens I speak with -are growing tired of politically charged lawsuits filed to promote candidates for office. That is not the intent or purpose of our legal system," he said.

Semcheana said the veterans are prepared to continue fighting the battle.

"The cost of the litigation that the taxpayers are paying is at least two or three times more than the cost of moving his memorial around," he said. "We're going to fight them, all the way to the Supreme Court if need be."