Observer 10/25/2013 : Page 1

Singapore Dunes Offers To Put 130 Acres In Land Conservancy If Allowed To Build Up, Not Out Page 3 Local Police Contract Negotiations Appear To Be Headed To Arbitration Page 3 Presorted Standard U.S. Postage Paid Saugatuck MI Permit No. 30 CURRENT RESIDENT THE LOCAL OBSERVER WE BRING YOU THE NEWS SERVING October 25, 2013 Vol. 11 No. 43 FREE SAUGATUCK * DOUGLAS * SAUGATUCK TOWNSHIP * LAKETOWN TOWNSHIP * FENNVILLE * GLENN * GANGES TOWNSHIP * HAMILTON * HOLLAND * SOUTH HAVEN County Prosecutor Says He Has No Jurisdiction Over Local Sign Issue Staff Report Allegan County Prosecutor Frederick Anderson says he has no legal jurisdiction to launch an investi-gation into reports that Saugatuck City officials have abused their power by failing to enforce a temporary sign regulation pertaining to election sig-nage throughout the city. Anderson was asked in a recent letter from officials of the pro-consolidation Consolidated Government Committee (CGC) to investigate a decision by Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier -and backed by the city council -not to enforce a local ordinance that pre-vents signs from being placed in the city’s rights-of-way (33-feet from a road’s centerline). CGC leaders Bobbie Gaunt and Max Matteson say they believe city officials abused their power by agreeing not to enforce the ordinance because (government leaders in both Saugatuck and Douglas) are opposed to consolidation as its passage may result in some of them losing their jobs or elected positions. Most of the “illegal” signs placed around town were put there by consolidation opponents backing the group Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities (CICC) which is trying to get voters of both municipalities to vote no on the measure on November 5th, accord-ing to Gaunt and Matteson. Both CGC officials and others claim Harrier and the city council made or backed the decision during a workshop session when no one from the public was present and then failed to put the decision on the public agenda for the following city council meeting so the public would not learn of it. “There was no way for the public to know that they (city offi-cials) decided to ignore the law and leave those illegal signs up,” says Gaunt. She noted that the CGC asked its supporters not to post signs in the public rights-of-way as required by the local ordinance and was dis-turbed to find out the city officials -who they say have a vested interest in seeing the consolidation vote defeated -abused their power by deciding to ignore the law and leave the anti-con-solidation signs in place. In an October 22 letter to the CGC, Allegan County Prosecutor Anderson wrote: “I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated October 15, 2013, requesting an investigation of the above referenced matter. The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney has the responsibility of deciding if criminal charges will be authorized after review of a police agency investigation. “This office does not have the authority to conduct criminal investigations. We review investiga-tions completed by the Sheriff ’s Office, Michigan State Police, City Police Departments, and other agen-cies. The investigation function is not conducted through this office. “Therefore, by statute, this office does not have the authority to conduct the investigation you request. “It appears the basis of complaint in your letter relates to enforcement of a city ordinance. The statutory authority of the Prosecuting Prosecutor Fred Anderson Attorney in Michigan’s 83 counties restricts the prosecutor’s authority to county ordinances not municipal ordinances for cities, villages, or townships. Therefore, this office does not have the authority over enforce-ment of the Saugatuck or Douglas ordinances and defers to the prosecu-tor authority of the city attorney for these municipalities.” Pro-Consolidation Signage Vandalized; CGC Blames Divisiveness Of CICC Efrain Sandoval Correspondent In what the injured party has characterized as tragically ironic and working against the very spirit of its opponents’ touting of “coopera-tive communities,” signage support-ing consolidation of the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas has been the target of vandalism for a second time this past weekend. Vandals damaged signs post-ed around the Saugatuck Yatch Service, 868 Holland Street in Saugatuck. The damage was discov-ered Saturday morning. Earlier on September 28, the Consolidated Government Committee (CGC) found damage to its permanent lighted sign at 2708 Blue Star Highway in Douglas. Repairs to that vandalized sign cost $400. Reports of the two acts of vandalism were filed with the Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department, according to CGC offi-cials. No suspects have been identi-fied at this time. “It is unfortunate that a dis-cussion so important to the future livelihood of our area is distracted by vandalism,” CGC Co-Cairs Bobbie Gaunt and Max Matteson said in a statement. “While there are passionate residents on both sides of this issue, we should focus our energies on a full discussion of how we can be a better community together,” they said. The signs were posted in the lead-up to the November 5th election in which the electorate in both Saugatuck and Douglas will be asked if they want their cities to merge into one. Studies by Plante Moran, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, and Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) have all been consistent in saying that half a million dollars in savings per year would result if the two cities con-solidated. Those savings, maintain the CGC, amount to $500,000 every year and means lower taxes for the taxpayers while providing more money to make much-needed improvements to the overall commu-nities’ infrastructure and its harbor. However, the Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities (CICC), the anti-con-solidation group, calls into question the financial studies’ findings and feel that the unique identity and sense of place they say each of the two cities offers would be lost with consolida-tion. While no suspects of the vandalism have surfaced, this is not the first time CGC and its members have been the target of bias and out-right personal attacks by those who oppose them, say CGC officials. For example, unidentified individuals have sent hate mail to CGC Co-Chair Max Matteson. “The opposition (the CICC and its supporters) has run a cam-paign based on claims the CGC has been promoting divisiveness, but if you look at it, they are the ones tak-ing on divisive strategy,” said Gaunt. CICC officials say they are not behind the alleged personal attacks or the recent vandalism. CGC’s Bobbie Gaunt

County Prosecutor Says He Has No Jurisdiction Over Local Sign Issue

Fred Anderson

Allegan County Prosecutor Frederick Anderson says he has no legal jurisdiction to launch an investigation into reports that Saugatuck City officials have abused their power by failing to enforce a temporary sign regulation pertaining to election signage throughout the city. <br /> <br /> Anderson was asked in a recent letter from officials of the proconsolidation Consolidated Government Committee (CGC) to investigate a decision by Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier - and backed by the city council - not to enforce a local ordinance that prevents signs from being placed in the city’s rights-of-way (33-feet from a road’s centerline). <br /> <br /> CGC leaders Bobbie Gaunt and Max Matteson say they believe city officials abused their power by agreeing not to enforce the ordinance because (government leaders in both Saugatuck and Douglas) are opposed to consolidation as its passage may result in some of them losing their jobs or elected positions. <br /> <br /> Most of the “illegal” signs placed around town were put there by consolidation opponents backing the group Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities (CICC) which is trying to get voters of both municipalities to vote no on the measure on November 5th, according to Gaunt and Matteson. <br /> <br /> Both CGC officials and others claim Harrier and the city council made or backed the decision during a workshop session when no one from the public was present and then failed to put the decision on the public agenda for the following city council meeting so the public would not learn of it. <br /> <br /> “There was no way for the public to know that they (city officials) decided to ignore the law and leave those illegal signs up,” says Gaunt. <br /> <br /> She noted that the CGC asked its supporters not to post signs in the public rights-of-way as required by the local ordinance and was disturbed to find out the city officials - who they say have a vested interest in seeing the consolidation vote defeated - abused their power by deciding to ignore the law and leave the anti-consolidation signs in place. <br /> <br /> In an October 22 letter to the CGC, Allegan County Prosecutor Anderson wrote: <br /> <br /> “I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated October 15, 2013, requesting an investigation of the above referenced matter. The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney has the responsibility of deciding if criminal charges will be authorized after review of a police agency investigation. <br /> <br /> “This office does not have the authority to conduct criminal investigations. We review investigations completed by the Sheriff ’s Office, Michigan State Police, City Police Departments, and other agencies. The investigation function is not conducted through this office. <br /> <br /> “Therefore, by statute, this office does not have the authority to conduct the investigation you request. <br /> <br /> “It appears the basis of complaint in your letter relates to enforcement of a city ordinance. The statutory authority of the Prosecuting Attorney in Michigan’s 83 counties restricts the prosecutor’s authority to county ordinances not municipal ordinances for cities, villages, or townships. Therefore, this office does not have the authority over enforcement of the Saugatuck or Douglas ordinances and defers to the prosecutor authority of the city attorney for these municipalities.”

Pro-Consolidation Signage Vandalized; CGC Blames Divisiveness Of CICC

Efrain Sandoval

In what the injured party has characterized as tragically ironic and working against the very spirit of its opponents’ touting of “cooperative communities,” signage supporting consolidation of the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas has been the target of vandalism for a second time this past weekend. <br /> <br /> Vandals damaged signs posted around the Saugatuck Yatch Service, 868 Holland Street in Saugatuck. The damage was discovered Saturday morning. <br /> <br /> Earlier on September 28, the Consolidated Government Committee (CGC) found damage to its permanent lighted sign at 2708 Blue Star Highway in Douglas. Repairs to that vandalized sign cost $400. <br /> <br /> Reports of the two acts of vandalism were filed with the Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department, according to CGC officials. No suspects have been identified at this time. <br /> <br /> “It is unfortunate that a discussion so important to the future livelihood of our area is distracted by vandalism,” CGC Co-Cairs Bobbie Gaunt and Max Matteson said in a statement. <br /> <br /> “While there are passionate residents on both sides of this issue, we should focus our energies on a full discussion of how we can be a better community together,” they said. <br /> <br /> The signs were posted in the lead-up to the November 5th election in which the electorate in both Saugatuck and Douglas will be asked if they want their cities to merge into one. <br /> <br /> Studies by Plante Moran, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, and Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) have all been consistent in saying that half a million dollars in savings per year would result if the two cities consolidated. <br /> <br /> Those savings, maintain the CGC, amount to $500,000 every year and means lower taxes for the taxpayers while providing more money to make much-needed improvements to the overall communities’ infrastructure and its harbor. <br /> <br /> However, the Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities (CICC), the anti-consolidation group, calls into question the financial studies’ findings and feel that the unique identity and sense of place they say each of the two cities offers would be lost with consolidation. <br /> <br /> While no suspects of the vandalism have surfaced, this is not the first time CGC and its members have been the target of bias and outright personal attacks by those who oppose them, say CGC officials. <br /> <br /> For example, unidentified individuals have sent hate mail to CGC Co-Chair Max Matteson. <br /> <br /> “The opposition (the CICC and its supporters) has run a campaign based on claims the CGC has been promoting divisiveness, but if you look at it, they are the ones taking on divisive strategy,” said Gaunt. <br /> <br /> CICC officials say they are not behind the alleged personal attacks or the recent vandalism.

Mill Pond Realty, Inc.

 

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