BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, NEWS EDITOR
It is not a conflict of interest for Boyne City Mayor Tom Neidhamer to continue serving as a liaison on the Boyne City Planning Commission.
The Boyne City Commission—including Neidhamer—voted unanimously recently to allow the long-time planning commission member to retain his position in an ex-officio capacity.
“With Tom’s election as mayor there came a question about is it still appropriate for him to sit on the planning commission?; so, we reviewed the various acts and bylaws that control this,” said Boyne City Planning Director Scott McPherson. “We reviewed these various ordinances and acts and I didn’t see any inconsistency with Tom serving as the person on the planning commission … but, there was a concern about self-appointment to the office as the attorney general had an opinion on that.”
McPherson said the city’s attorney looked at the matter and determined that the planning commission’s ordinance provides for this type of situation by allowing the Boyne City Commission to pass a resolution appointing someone from the city commission to the planning commission.
“They (planning commissioners) do like having a city commission member on the planning commission and they would like to keep Tom, if possible, as their representative given his prior years of history and service on the planning commission,” McPherson said.
Neidhamer had already been on the city’s planning commission for decades when he was elected to the Boyne City Commission in 2012.
Neidhamer was elected Mayor of Boyne City shortly after being reelected as a city commissioner at the end of 2015.
“I would very much appreciate staying on the planning commission … but not at the cost of any controversy,” said Neidhamer. “So, I am very willing to do whatever is recommended by the commissioners.”
He added, “There’s no pressure to reappointment me… I don’t want to overstep my boundaries.”
Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne said he supported Neidhamer in the position.
Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom agreed that Neidhamer was a good fit for the position.
Boyne City Commissioner Hugh Conklin asked for a clarification on whether the mayor could fire or appoint people on the planning commission.
City officials said that, even though the mayor could appoint people to the planning commission, it has always been subject to the full board to vote on appointments to the planning commission.
Neidhamer’s ex-officio status is somewhat unique because, generally, liaisons from one board to another are non-voting members. In this case, Neidhamer has the same power on the planning commission as the rest of its members.
The board voted unanimously during its Tuesday Jan. 26 meeting to approve Neidhamer remaining on the planning commission concurrently with his term on the Boyne City Commission.