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January 29, 2013

Trustee Eads resigns from Franklin Village Council

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

FRANKLIN — Franklin Village Council Trustee Lew Eads has resigned from his post, effective immediately, according to a letter he submitted earlier this month.

According to the letter, which was received by Council President Jim Kochensparger and Village Administrator Amy Sullivan Jan. 7, Eads opted to resign as trustee, fire commissioner and assistant treasurer, due to personal health issues that have prompted him to spend the next four months in Florida. He said that because he will miss at least four council meetings, he thought it best to step down.

“I believe the residents of Franklin deserve full-time representation; especially as several key decisions will be made in the coming months,” said Eads in the letter.

Sullivan said she’s sorry to see him go, since he was such an enthusiastic member of the council.

“He had brought a lot of good experience to the council. He’s very passionate about Franklin and has volunteered for a lot. He represented the council on the Cable Board and served on several committees,” said Sullivan. “He was a council member that definitely was dedicated, and I’m going to miss his input and his passion.”

Eads, in his letter, returned the praise, saying Sullivan “brings a positive attitude and incredible talent to her work.” He also noted that he is proud of the work being done by the Franklin-Bingham Farms Police and Fire departments, especially the leadership of Fire Chief Tony Averbuch and Police Chief Daniel Roberts.

He also explained in his resignation, which was read aloud at the Village Council meeting Jan. 14, that whoever is appointed to take his place should “continue the progress being made in the village,” despite opposition from some residents.

“As council considers upcoming issues, it is important that the focus of council be on taking action that will encourage adaptive re-use of historic properties, maintaining rights of property owners while preserving historic structures; much like what was done to preserve the Kreger buildings and others in the village,” he said in the letter. “One of the questions council should ask when considering the issues coming up is, ‘What impact will this action have on property values and quality of life of all residents, not just a few who are arguing against action because of narrow agendas?’”

Eads’ comments come during ongoing battles the council has fought against resident groups like Keep Franklin Franklin, led by resident activists like Diane Lake and Bill Lamott. The group has said it doesn’t approve of rezoning properties in the village, specifically from residential to commercial, fearing it would open the door to transform the historic downtown area into a mainstream shopping destination.

In August, the group protested the rezoning of the historic Snow House, which owner Lisa MacDonald was seeking to rezone so she could relocate her personal training studio, Fitness Driven, to the property. MacDonald, however, withdrew her request before the Planning Commission could make a recommendation to the council, Sullivan said.

“At this point in time, I feel there is a vocal minority who are against every action being proposed simply because they are more interested in their personal agenda than in doing the best for all citizens,” Eads said in the letter. “The voices of this minority, no matter how loud, should be heard, but these voices should not be allowed to negate the positive steps taken over the last few years to make Franklin a better community.”

Eads also maintained in the letter that he believes the move last year by council to continue funding to nonprofit group Main Street Franklin was a good decision, saying the partnership created between village government and Main Street Oakland County is one of the council’s “most positive associations.” That decision, too, was protested by some villagers, who thought the $19,300 approved from the general fund for the group should be directed elsewhere.

He closed the letter by saying he intends to stay abreast of Franklin happenings by watching videos of village meetings and voicing his opinion on matters when he returns from Florida.

The trustees must now shift their focus to finding a resident to replace Eads at the council table. Sullivan said the vacancy must be filled within 30 days, per the village charter.

Village Clerk Eileen Pulker is accepting applications for the trustee position. Candidates for the position need to be at least 25 years old and have been a resident of Franklin for at least two years. For more information, contact the Franklin Administrative Office at (248) 626-9666 or visit www.franklin.mi.us.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.