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February 20, 2018 6:05 pm

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Brad Rudich Resigns Postion On Saugatuck Township Planning Commission

Saugatuck Township Clerk Brad Rudich has resigned as township planning commission liaison while his wife Janna Rudich has resigned as minute taker for that same body. He made the announcement at the township board meeting on Nov. 1, where Saugatuck Township Supervisor Jonathan Phillips was elected and appointed to replace Brad for that role.

Rudich’s planning commission stint spanned four years, starting in November 2012. Rudich provided no reason for his resignation, but in recent reports indicated that being on the planning commission was a source of “frustration” and “anxiety.”

His resignation comes amid tensions between certain township officials—including himself—and the public, those who have been vocal about how the township is being administered, particularly critical of the planning commission process that led to the final approval of the NorthShore development project.

In a related matter, about two weeks prior to his resignation, The Local Observer Newspapers probed the township to get information about Janna Rudich and whether or not the township had taken proper steps in her hiring. The newspaper asked if Saugatuck Township had publicly and openly advertised the job of recording minutes for the planning commission before offering the post to Janna, the wife of a township public official?

Rudich assured the paper that that was the case—the township had publicly advertised the position, but “nobody applied for the job.”

The situation has not been lost on some. “It is not very politically savvy to hire your wife to fill a job for a governmental body you serve in,” said a critic who asked to remain anonymous.

Rudich is currently on vacation and was not available for comment about this issue. And neither Saugatuck Township Planning Commission Chair Margaret Conklin nor Phillips responded to calls from the newspaper for comment about what Rudich’s resignation means and its relevance to the planning commission and its relevance to critics of the planning commission.

A few critics of the NorthShore development project were on hand Nov. 1, there to appeal to the township board to do something to put a brake on the development plans arguing there are many issues still pending.

In a 4-1 vote, the planning commission gave the project the thumbs up on Oct. 23 during a more than four-hour session that involved heated exchanges between officials and the attending public.

Before it proceeds though, the NorthShore project still requires the approval from federal and state regulatory agencies, particularly on issues related to the proposed marina associated with the development and any potential impact on the waterways.

Residents and groups such as the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance have for many years advocated for “responsible development,” deeming it important to protect the 300-acre property from development that hurts the ecosystem and ruins the natural dune landscape.

The Alliance is strongly fighting the project, filing a lawsuit before Allegan County Circuit Court Judge Kevin W. Cronin to try and reverse the planning commission’s preliminary NorthShore approval.

At the Oct. 23 meeting, some planners, including Rudich, became visibly frustrated with the public and the public’s intermittent interjections during the NorthShore review process.

Conklin, in particular, made her vexation known when she said, “So many of you are here with your anger and vile hatred of us just because we are on the planning commission.”

Furthermore, she alluded to her feelings that planners made very little compensation while some environmental activists criticizing planners made a lot more when she said, “We (planning commission members) make $50 a meeting. How much does David Swan make?”

David Swan is the president of the Alliance. Saugatuck Township Trustee Roy McIlwaine conceded Nov. 1 that in his research with state of Michigan agencies he found that Swan was not compensated at all for being president of the Alliance.

Brad Rudich Resigns Postion On Saugatuck Township Planning Commission

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