Saugatuck Township Board Reappoints Welk To Planning Commission Despite His Missing Approximately A Quarter Or More Of Meetings
Despite the fact that recent Saugatuck Township Planning Commission Chair Kat Cook expressed serious concerns that Edward Welk’s prolonged absences and unwillingness to take basic planning training was detrimental to the professionalism of the planning commission, the township board reappointed Welk to a three-year Planning Commission term during its meeting last week.
The vote was four-to-one. Saugatuck Township Trustee Roy McIlwaine, who questioned Welk about the issues raised by Cook during the board review process, was the dissenting voice.
The board also approved the reappointment of Becky Israels to the Planning Commission and Alan Kercinik to the township’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
The other Planning Commission candidates included Dan DeFranco and Mike McGuigan, who retired from a 40-year career in engineering, including GE.
The township’s action comes against the background of last summer’s controversial move when, despite strong public support to keep Joe Milauckas on the Planning Commission, the township board voted to fire Milauckas and replace him with Chris Lozano.
Regarded as a distinguished public servant, Milauckas served 20-plus years, missed few meetings, demonstrated a great deal of knowledge, and always posed probing questions.
“One of the reasons Mr. Milauckas was given for his removal was because he went out of state during the winter months and theoretically couldn’t attend Planning Commission meetings. In twenty plus years of dedicated service to Saugatuck Township Joe Milauckas missed approximately three meetings in total,” Cook said then of Milauckas’ ousting.
Cook, again in her public letter, brought up the issue of Welk’s attendance, this time drawing a contrast between Milauckas and Welk, noting that Welk “misses more than half of the meetings each year.”
However, McIlwaine, during Wednesday’s discussion, said that that was “a misnomer,” as his records indicated that of 60 meetings, Welk had missed 23%, not half.
McIlwaine said that was not an issue for him, but did share Cook’s other concern.
“I do think we should consider that as part of membership to the Planning Commission, commissioners do take the basics of Michigan Township Association courses. That raises a red flag for me.”
Asked by the board if he would commit himself to more education and training, Welk said, “I will make a commitment to do that.”
McIIwaine further told Welk that he was “not asking probing questions” of the zoning administrator, the applicant or the township attorney.
To which Welk responded with, “Steve (Saugatuck Township Zoning Administrator Steve Kushion) puts together a good package…I am not one that likes long meetings. If I feel the need to ask questions, I do. Otherwise, I let others ask them.”
Meanwhile, Saugatuck Township Supervisor Chris Roerig, who joined others in Welk’s approval, cited “continuity” and “diversity“ (meaning having a Planning Commission with people that represent the various township zoning areas)—as important elements for the health of that governing body.
Roerig highlighted Welk’s many years of public service (since 2011), noting, “eight years—that is a lot of knowledge.”