Wrong Exit? ZBA removal might have violated law

Graham Jaehnig/ Daily Mining Gazette Calumet Village President Dave Geisler is pictured here at a meeting of the Calumet Village Board.

CALUMET — Village President Dave Geisler and the council could be in violation of state law in removing Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Nathan Anderson from his position.

Geisler appointed Anderson as chairman in September 2017 for a three-year term but removed him in December.

In making the motion to remove Anderson, Geisler cited a number of allegations, including Anderson’s role in a protest rally in December. The board voted 4-2 in favor of removing him.

In his motion to remove Anderson, Geisler cited three reasons for his action, including actions taken by the ZBA that resulted in a suit being filed against the village. Anderson responded by saying that action was taken as a result of a unanimous vote of the ZBA, of which three members sit on the village council.

According to the Sec. 64.3 of the General Law Village Act, “The president may suspend any officer authorized by this act or appointed pursuant to this act for neglect of duty, and with the approval of the council remove any officer appointed by the council when the president considers it in the public interest.”

However, as Anderson was on the ZBA, he fell under a separate guideline, according the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act. Section 601 of that act reads, in part:

“A member of the zoning board of appeals may be removed by the legislative body for misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office upon written charges and after a public hearing.”

Another reason for removing Anderson, Geisler said, was Anderson’s eviction from a council meeting in October.

“And finally,” Geisler said at the December meeting, “for the action of Wednesday night (Dec. 13 protest rally). “This man is not fit for public office, and again in the public interest I am removing him, and I’m going to ask the council by voice …vote whether they want to confirm that decision or not.”

Under the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, however, Anderson was not given a public hearing before he was removed, nor did he received written charges.

When contacted Monday and asked about possible unlawful removal of Anderson, Geisler said he needed to consult his attorney and would promptly respond.

Geisler had not responded before the paper went to press Tuesday morning.