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Recall, planning leaders seek top township slot

Recall, planning leaders seek top township slot

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By Scott Sullivan

Editor

Cindy Osman — the Saugatuck city planning and zoning administrator who co-led a Nov. 6 recall of four Saugatuck Township board member — has joined township planning commission chair Andrew Prietz applying for the vacant township supervisor’s position.

The board is expected to fill the post, left open by Chris Roerig’s resignation, at its Wednesday, June 5 meeting.

Prietz, a retired customer service manager most recently with Getman Corp. in Bangor, is a 5-year planning commission member who became its chair last July. He completed Michigan State Citizen Planner training in 2014 and attended the Michigan Association of Planning Conference last fall in Grand Rapids.

“I feel,” Prietz wrote clerk Abby Bigford in his May 9 application letter, “I have been an active and contributing member of the planning commission. During the current board/employee transitional period I have been assisting with planning and zoning issues as needed.

“If I’m appointed as the township board supervisor, I will bring this same level of leadership, enthusiasm and contribution to this very important position,” Prietz’s application said.

Osman took her Saugatuck city post in 2016 after 31 years as a Holland city official, most recently assistant director of community and neighborhood services.

She said the Saugatuck city attorney apprised her working for both neighbor governments would not pose a conflict of interest.

Osman, who earned a Juris Doctor degree from Cooley Law School in 2009, notes in her application she might not be available in Februaries.

She and fellow township resident Kathy Sturm led a recall petition drive that last fall resulted in the ouster of board incumbents Brad Rudich, Lori Babinski, Roy McIlwaine and Doug Lane; replacing them with treasurer Jon Helmrich, clerk Bill Wester, plus trustees Bigford and Stacey Aldrich. Roerig, appointed by the former board, was elected supervisor unopposed.

Among the first orders of business for the new board was to accept/force the resignation of 5-year township manager Aaron Sheridan. A month later, Wester stepped down as clerk for family medical reasons.

The board voted in Bigford as clerk in February and chose Brenda Marcy, another recall advocate, the next month to the open trustee position.

Also in February members hired former Marshall assistant city manager and planner Natalie Dean as manager and zoning administrator.

Dean resigned fewer than three months later, saying she and the board disagreed, to some extent, on agendas for the township. Roerig resigned the same weekend, saying the direction the new board wants to take the township in is vastly different (from) what I believe is best for our residents.” Both departures took effect May 3.

Combined with the planned retirement of 15-year assessor Sherry Mason, the board has pressed on during the “transitional” time to which Prietz refers.

The township hired independent planning contractor Lynee Wells as a zoning administrator and planning contractor May 13 and Kyle Harris to start the next day as new assessor.

Both contracts are on the table for Wednesday’s board meeting, as is one that would pay Frank Walsh of Walsh Municipal Services LLC to conduct a manager search. It would Walsh $3,900 up front to conduct the search, and another $3,900 the board chooses its new administrative office leader.

Walsh led a similar search for Douglas that led to its May 6 hiring of new city manager Rich LaBombard.

Wednesday’s meeting in the township hall starts at 6 p.m.