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Under Michigan law, Allendale Township cannot remove controversial planning commissioner

Posted at 6:59 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 10:04:33-05

ALLENDALE, MICH. — There's been quite the public outcry in Allendale Township after a member of the planning commission was identified as one of the people at the capitol on Jan. 6.

Ryan Kelley was appointed to his role by Adam Elenbaas and approved by the Township Trustees.

Elenbaas says even if they wanted to remove Ryan from his position, they do not have the legal authority to do so.

“I know a lot of people have said, 'Well, Adam Elenbaas, Board of Trustees, you should just remove Ryan Kelley.' And quite honestly, the way the state law is laid out, we just don’t have that direct ability,” Township Supervisor Adam Elenbaas said.

Citing this portion of MCL 125.3815, subsection nine, reads in full:

"The legislative body may remove a member of the planning commission for misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office upon written charges and after a public hearing. Before casting a vote on a matter on which a member may reasonably be considered to have a conflict of interest, the member shall disclose the potential conflict of interest to the planning commission. The member is disqualified from voting on the matter if so provided by the bylaws or by a majority vote of the remaining members of the planning commission. Failure of a member to disclose a potential conflict of interest as required by this subsection constitutes malfeasance in office. Unless the legislative body, by ordinance, defines conflict of interest for the purposes of this subsection, the planning commission shall do so in its bylaws."

An expert attorney on the matter echoing these sentiments says the keywords are the fact that Kelley's actions at the Capitol on Jan. 6 do not interfere directly with his role and ability to do his job as a planning commissioner.

"As a matter of planning law, the removal would have to be for one of these reasons, and one of these problems or bad acts would have to occur in office. In other words, this person would have to do something wrong as a planning commissioner," WMU-Cooley Professor Gerald Fischer said.

Elenbaas says Kelley's actions have not interfered with his role.

“There is a distraction, but he has carried out his duties as a planning commissioner,” Elenbaas said.

No charges have been filed against Kelley at this time. The FBI has received tips about his actions at the Capitol on Jan. 6. According to Fischer, the governor's office or the attorney general could have the authority to remove Kelley from his position.

FOX 17 reached out to the attorney general's office on the matter, and have not heard if Dana Nessel plans to get involved at this time.

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