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You’ll be glad you did! * MILL POND REALTY * BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOMESERVICES * COLDWELL BANKER WOODLAND SCHMIDT * GREENRIDGE REAL ESTATE * CENTURY 21 * SHORELINE REALTORS Presorted Standard U.S. Postage Paid Saugatuck MI Permit No. 30 CURRENT RESIDENT THE LOCAL OBSERVER WE BRING YOU THE NEWS SERVING May 5, 2017 FREE SAUGATUCK * DOUGLAS * SAUGATUCK TOWNSHIP * LAKETOWN TOWNSHIP * FENNVILLE * GLENN * GANGES TOWNSHIP * HAMILTON * HOLLAND * SOUTH HAVEN Vol. 15 No. 18 Township Planning Officials, Residents Raise Ethical Concerns Over Rudich/Sheridan/Kushion’s Actions Efrain Sandoval Correspondent It looks like the 304-acre Lake Michigan waterfront proper-ty in Saugatuck Township will con-tinue to be a hot-button topic. Following pressure from its planning commission members and some area residents, the Saugatuck Township Board unani-mously voted to seek a special con-sultant to help the Saugatuck Township Planning Commission review the Jeff Padnos and Cottage Home development project. Saugatuck Township Planning Commission Chair Kathleen “Kat” Miller Cook, par-ticularly, has been scathing in her criticisms against Township Clerk Brad Rudich, Township Manager Aaron Sheridan and Township Zoning Administrator Steve Kushion and their handling of the development project. Cook penned an April 12 memo to board officials saying that her request for an independent and outside planning consultant to help the Saugatuck Township Planning Commission address elements of the Cottage Home development that are beyond planners’ scope has been strategically met with resist-ance. “It seems the manager (Sheridan), clerk (Rudich), and zoning administrator (Kushion) have worked together to block this request. I don’t know what their motivations are,” Jon Helmrich, the former township liaison to the Harbor Authority, told the board Wednesday alluding to Cook’s situ-ation. Helmrich further stated that it has been a long established standard for the township to hire a special consultant to help the plan-ning commission in very complex matters such as the Cottage Home development (the plan calls for 40 homes on different clusters on the property, mostly houses fronting Lake Michigan and the Kalamazoo River, plus a boat basin). Saugatuck Township Planning Commission Member Joe Milauckas concurred with Helmrich, noting, “That (hiring outside planning experts for com-plex developments) is what we have been doing ever since I’ve been on the planning commission (30-plus years).” In an unexpected devel-opment revealed towards the end—and immediately follow-ing—the Wednesday night meet-ing, Milauckas and some members of the public said they have read or seen a letter written by the Cottage Home attorney to the Saugatuck Township attorney suggesting Cook ought to be removed from the Planning Commission. “That is not true,” Saugatuck Township Board Supervisor Jonathan Phillips told (Cont. Page 9) Michigan Port Collaborative Awarded Grant To Do “Full Spectrum” Economic Impact Study Of MI Ports, Says State Chair & Saugatuck Resident Felicia Fairchild New Study Expected To Benefit Saugatuck-Douglas Harbor & Other State Ports In Long Term Special To The Observer The Michigan Port Collaborative (MPC) has received official notification from The Michigan Waterways Commission that the organization’s grant applica-tion to do a “Full Spectrum” eco-nomic impact study of Michigan ports has been approved. The MPC has been involved in representing the Ports of Michigan for over a decade on issues that are critical to the economic suc-cess of all Michigan ports, whether large or small, including for the Saugatuck-Douglas area. Following a disappointing legislative effort in 2012 to obtain funding for non-commercial harbors from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund legislation (WRDA), ports now face a threat to all "Blue Economy" jobs, by the recent announcement that the Trump Administration plans to eliminate all Great Lakes Cleanup funding. Acknowledgement of the "economic importance" of Michigan harbors at the state and federal levels has been under assault since lake lev-els dropped drastically in 2009. In fact, the current trend of thinking in many of state and local agencies is that harbors are an eco-nomic liability. According to Felicia Fairchild, chairman of the state-wide organization, “We represent the ports of Michigan and we want to change that thinking. Michigan harbors are the front doors to our communities.” The Michigan Port Collaborative, through the City of Alpena, applied for a grant from the Michigan Water Ways Commission to conduct a "full spectrum" eco-nomic impact study of the ports of Michigan. “Several economic impact studies already exist but they are not ‘full spectrum,’” says Fairchild, “Most do not include all ports, nor do they include economic drivers for individual ports other than traditional maritime measure-ments.” For example, many ports attract tourists because of attributes unique to their port communities; however tourism dollars and addi-tional factors that add economic value to port communities have not been included in previous studies. MPC believes the results of a “full spectrum” study will quantify that the economic value of Michigan ports is far greater than previously acknowledged by state and federal agencies. The MPC will use the results of this study to educate state officials and legislators regarding the economic value of Michigan ports and use the metrics to advance issues that are beneficial to all ports. Ports will also be provided with a user-friendly, excel-based input-output economic modeling template that can be used to update local data regularly, allowing port management to generate individual metrics on an ongoing basis. Participants will also be invited to a presentation highlighting the results of these findings following the com-pletion of this project. Bill Boik, consultant, for-merly of the Michigan DNR and Dr. Vince Magnini, Ph.D., executive director of the Institute of Service Research, have been hired to assist on this project. Execution of the study will begin this fall. The MPC is seeking finan-cial participation to help the organi-zation meet the matching funds requirement for this grant. MPC is a 501C3 tax exempt not-for-profit registered in the State of Michigan. The MPC has guaranteed the costs associated with the preparation of the grant proposal. They need to raise an addi-tional $20,000 to meet the matching funding for the project. They are requesting support to help raise the matching funds for this important initiative. A commitment for match-ing funds is necessary to allow the organization to proceed with the project. Please contact Donald Gilmet, MPC vice chair and grant coordinator for City of Alpena at (989) 354-1761 or at: email@example.com for more information.
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