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UPDATED: Planning Commission Appointments Divide Dexter Township Board

Township residents Bob Nester and Tom Ehman will serve on the Planning Commission through 2015.

"I'm very surprised with the supervisor's recommendation of Mr. Ehman considering that for years madam supervisor has said she wouldn't appoint Tom Ehman to anything if he was the last person on earth." -- Harley Rider

The Dexter Township Board of Trustees gave its nod of approval to two of three appointments to the Planning Commission at its meeting on Tuesday.

Township Supervisor Pat Kelly nominated residents Bob Nester and Tom Ehman to the commission after receiving five applications of interest.

"I would not hesitate to appoint all five candidates to the Planning Commission. They would all provide good service to the township," Kelly said. "One of the supervisor's jobs, however, is to look at the commission as a whole, and try to mix interests, skill sets, personalities, and other things. I take these appointments very seriously."

The board unanimously approved Nester's re-appointment for a term that will end on Dec. 31, 2015.

Before confirming the appointment, Trustee Carl Lesser asked Nester to explain how he plans to preserve the township's rural character.

"I would have to look very seriously at any applicant's request to create an environment that is more similar to the large communities in our area like Ann Arbor or Brighton. I feel strongly about fast food joints, major malls and huge commercial developments that would change the atmosphere of the community," Nester said. "I think the people who live out here want to be here because of the natural beauty."

Trustee Bill Gajewski said while he respects Nester's leadership on the Planning Commission, he would rather see Kelly appoint an applicant with a longer track record of service.

"I would like to see someone appointed who has given the most back to the community with dedicated years of service," he said.

Nester currently serves on the commission, however his term expired on Dec. 31, 2012.

The board also voted 5 to 2 to approve Kelly's appointment of Tom Ehman to the Planning Commission to replace outgoing commissioner Molly Robinson.

In voting against the appointment, Clerk Harley Rider said he was surprised by Kelly's selection of Ehman.

"I'm very surprised with the supervisor's recommendation of Mr. Ehman considering that for years madam supervisor has said she wouldn't appoint Tom Ehman to anything if he was the last person on earth," Rider said. "Suddenly there's been a lot of comments by Mr. Ehman supporting Mrs. Kelly in her re-election bid (as township supervisor) and now he's appointed."

Rider said he believes resident Steve Burch should've been considered for the commission appointment. Burch has served 11 years on the township's Zoning Board of Authority and currently volunteers on the Public Safety Advisory Committee.

Trustees Libby Brushaber and Bill Gajewski also endorsed Burch for the commission appointment.

"The issues I've had with Mr. Ehman in the past have been cleared up in my mind," Kelly said of the appointment. "Mr. Ehman scarcely endorsed me during the election, rather he did not endorse my opponent."

Kelly's nomination of Trustee Jason Maciejewski as township board representative on the Planning Commission was not approved, however he will remain on the commission until a new appointment is confirmed by the board.

"The way the law reads is if the board does not confirm an appointment (to the Planning Commission) by the township supervisor, whoever is currently sitting in that position will continue to serve," Kelly said.

Rider disagreed, stating he believes Maciejewski's seat should be re-appointed since Maciejewski's term on the township board expired in 2012.

"It's my understanding that if someone was re-elected to a new term in office, he or she would have to be re-appointed to the commission subject to the confirmation of the township board," Rider said.

Maciejewski was re-elected to the township board during the November general election.

Kelly said she planned to consult the Michigan Township Association for guidance on the appointment.

According to information provided by the board, Trustees Carl Lesser and Bill Gajewski also filed applications for consideration on the commission.

Editor's note: This story has been changed to reflect the accurate vote of the board on Tom Ehman's appointment to the Planning Commission.

John Locke January 17, 2013 at 06:30 PM
It is interesting to note that in his continued intransigence and hypocrisy Carl Lesser wants to help maintain the rural character of the township. If this was the case, why did he sell part of his land to developers? Why hasn't he sought an agricultural covenant for his mixed zone land?
Watch What Happens January 19, 2013 at 01:44 AM
I like Tom Ehman and I think he will do a very good job on the planning commission. I would have voted for him. Many people have heard Pat Kelly slam Tom Ehman for many years. It was obvious to me that Tom was supporting Pat Kelly for supervisor and that is the only reason why Pat Kelly appointed him. It won't take long before Pat Kelly starts slamming Tom again, as always, she will deny it. Tom is strong about his positions. I doubt that Pat Kelly has the same positions as Tom. This could be very interesting.

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