What is a public hearing? 

A public hearing is a formal meeting for receiving testimony from the public at large on a local issue, or proposed government action. Testimony from both sides of an issue is usually recorded for public record, and a report summarizing the key points is generated. 

Why conduct a public hearing?
•To open discussions about the issue and your advocacy campaign.
•To communicate and clarify needs.
•To communicate a sense of community concern about an issue.
•To increase community awareness about the issue
•To attract media attention
•To bring more of the public over to your way of thinking
•To recruit new members
•To show your side of controversial issues
•To re-open public dialogue on issues that have fallen out of the public mind
•To counter your opponents' arguments against your group or initiative
•To find a solution to a community problem or issue
•To gather information
•To take the pulse of the community


These are the reasons given by a variety of public bodies, describing why to hold a public hearing.  In Ludington, it would seem that there are other more likely reasons to conduct a public hearing, particularly a public hearing about the developments proposed at Stearn's Park at the west end of Ludington Avenue.  That is: 

-To comply with the minimal provisions of qualifying for a Michigan DNR Trust Fund grant.

-To allow public officials concerned with the project to advocate for the project, and to continue to cover up or misrepresent the facts.

-To allow those that advocate a City-sponsored increase of power (Historic Decision) to have as much time as they want to further that effort (as noted here:  Fairness in speaking at Public Meetings?).

-To the point it can be accomplished, to quell any controversy.



I made a statement about the "West End Project" just after Tom Coleman at Ludington's first public hearing on this matter (the second will be held next Monday, March 4) to the effect that the City was keeping the public out of the loop once again on this project and suppressing any public discussion over it with mid-winter public hearings over a fuzzily-detailed walkway with fuzzily-detailed costs, noted here




Coleman Generator


Before I spoke (if you listen closely before I get up, someone who has a mike says "oh, crap" nearly 15:00 in) , a man introducing himself as Tom Coleman, states his address (at about the 14:00 mark), then he says:

"I'm here at the public hearing to encourage you to further develop, to develop, actually, the west end of Ludington has been part of the comprehensive plan, your comprehensive plan, for at least ten years, more close to 15, this proposed is just a portion of that but it's not the whole thing.  The job was set up so that it could be done in pieces and it would come together to perform,to develop the full mosaic of the west end of Ludington Avenue, now the proposed marina up to the concession stand,  the south concession stand.  If we go ahead with that, and we should, I think that Justus Stearns would be most appreciative to continue his legacy on Stearn's Park. Thank you very much."


Let's analyze his statements.  The latest comprehensive plan in .pdf for Ludington made in 2010 and referencing the 2004 CP extenisvely does mention a West (Ludington Ave) End project twice on p. 55 and 75 in passing, never giving a hint of what they entail. 

p 55: (as part of a goal statement) Parking is now located on prime beach areas and roads, when those spaces should be people places and landscaped. Promote West end plan.

p 75: Continue to encourage and implement the action items partly accomplished for the 2004 Comprehensive Plan. Included are:  • West End of Ludington Avenue/Lake Plan.

These were not part of our prior comprehensive plan, which is only about nine years old, not close to 15 as per Coleman.  It should be noted that Tom Coleman joined the Planning Commission and headed that agency during the times when the City permissively allowed numerous towering condos along the waterfronts of Ludington, most of which stand mostly vacant nowadays for the full year, not just the off-season.  Coleman refers to it as "your" comprehensive plan talking to the councilors, but he modestly keeps his own substantial involvement in drafting it unrevealed in his statement.

He mentions something about a proposed marina as well in that area.  Have the City elders, flush with their profits from their other marina endeavors, decided to construct a new municipal marina to supplement their other?  Is there a proposed marina on the lakefront in the future?  If they do develop this stretch of public land into a new marina, they definitely would be going against the reason Justus Stearn's daughter-in-law gave this stretch of land for public purposes she envisioned. 


Now let's take a look at Tom Coleman himself.  He's a big guy who used to work for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) before retiring and relocating up here to take over the local Planning Commission.  Here's him back in 1992 giving Scottville the "good news" about the bypass.  He did retire from that board at the end of 2010:   Dec. 7, 2010 PC minutes:  Chairman Coleman thanked Commissioners Garrett, Olmstead and Moloney and the present and previous Commissioners for all of their foresight and concerns. He said that they all had worked to better the City of Ludington. There is a legacy of planning from this board and previous boards that still have not been accomplished. He said that he was sure that these projects and efforts will continue to be brought up as good things for the City of Ludington.

Side Note:  Exactly one year prior, Commissioner Moloney had got up in front of the City Council portraying himself as a private individual representing a private group, in a totally unethical breach of conduct for a public official in securing the Dog Park inside of Cartier Park.  This dog park has now been returned to the City for its maintenance and upkeep, as has unethical  Joe Moloney after a brief retirement.

But Tom Coleman still serves as a public official for the City of Ludington. In the Apr 7 2009 minutes:  Moved... to appoint Tom Coleman to replace Dennis Dunlap, who has moved to Muskegon, to serve on the Construction and Property Maintenance Code Appeal Board with the term to expire December 31, 2011, effective immediately.  He was then renewed up to the end of 2016 as per the Jan. 9, 2012 minutes

This board is described in the Ludington City Code Section 6.28:  A construction board of appeals is established pursuant to the provisions of section 14 of Public Act No. 230 of 1972 (MCL  125.1514). The board is composed of five members.

The state law referenced, MCL 125.1514:  "If an enforcing agency refuses to grant an application for a building permit, or if the enforcing agency makes any other decision pursuant or related to this act, or the code, an interested person, or the person's authorized agent, may appeal in writing to the board of appeals. The board of appeals shall hear the appeal and render and file its decision with a statement of reasons for the decision with the enforcing agency from whom the appeal was taken not more than 30 days after submission of the appeal.  Unless otherwise provided by local law or ordinance, the members of the board of appeals shall be appointed for 2-year terms by the chief executive officer of a city."

So not only has Tom Coleman been appointed to this board for an unlawfully determined 5 year term (rather than the statute's 2 years, noting that the City has not passed a law or ordinance creating five year terms), he came in front of the City Council not acknowledging the fact that he was and still is a City Official whose decisions went into developing this project, and whose current office could have him rule on the project at some point. 

That may just be a bigger mistake than some citizen getting up and not realizing the City Council held two public hearings back in early 2012 on this project, when that very council had created a policy that prohibited that citizen from attending either meeting at that time, and whose legality is currently pending in Federal court.  When is a public hearing not a public hearing?  Perhaps when not all of the public is allowed to attend without the threat of arrest-- or when other segments of the public have to worry about whether the City would invoke such a policy on them if they spoke out against the City's whims and fancies. 


None of the plan of the West End Project is readily accessible as of this writing, this being one week after the City of Ludington was taken to task for five minutes for not letting the people know what's going on.  But we are told that a 10 ft. wide concrete walkway between the end of Ludington Avenue and the lighthouse will cost just under a half of a million in a combination of local funds and State trust funds.  My consensus of local opinion has this as an unwanted project, irregardless of the cost, and is priced outrageously if you want to count beans. 

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Terrific job of journalism. Something the LDN is not capable of doing.

We try our best here with our limited resources.  Thanks for your appreciation.

I would much rather see this money going toward installing sidewalks, especially the missing sidewalks near schools which forces kids to walk in the street. I can't imagine a city that would intentionally  put their children at risk by forcing them to walk in the street especially when the mornings are dark because of daylight savings time. This is dangerous and one of these days there will be a horrific accident because of the lack of sidewalks. This Mayor, City Manager and Council spent a million dollars on the marina for transient boats that never show up but can't spend a dime to keep the kids safe. If any children get hurt or killed because they must walk in the road it will be on the heads of Ludingtons officials.

Willy, since the removal of lifeguards at the beach, and the recurring drownings thereafter, did you see or witness any city councilman or officials crying for those lost dead souls? Think again, they have no conscience for their actions, just condescending attitudes of never being wrong.

There is no soul in this current crop of councilmembers.  Think about it: you decide unilaterally to cut the lifeguard program ($23K) while at the same time enter into a water tower painting agreement ($1200K) and okaying a marina transient dock ($480K, local).  The lack of lifeguards causes the death of Tony Goldsmith in 2010, the unsafe transient docks seem to figure in on the death of Lingyan Zou in 2012, the Danaher water tower is painted over two years later than it was to be contracted in weather that was contrary to the paint's specifications. 

This and many more ethics and law violations that have been delineated, often in great detail, on the Torch and elsewhere, and yet all they have is pats on their backs, and commendations for their unoathed City Manager who has done nothing but harm to our community for years. 

This year's application for $300,000 to the MIchigan DNR Trust Fund for Ludington Avenue's West End 'improvements' has once again proven unsuccessful as this article tells us:  http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/12/dnr_approves_247m_for_p...

Be ready for the new push in January and February to try and go for the concrete beach walkway and dune-levelling once again, spearheaded by the usual downstate crowd of John Shay, Heather Venzke-Tykoski, Tom Coleman, etc. working with our "kept in-line" city councilors and mayor. 

I still don't understand why in the World they want to re-do the end of Ludington Ave. What do they expect to gain from spending tax dollars on such a frivolous project. Aquaman has been saying all along that these downstaters have pushed aside locals and are having to much influence regarding how Ludington is run and where the money goes. I guess Ludington is getting what it deserves for catering to the tourists while ignoring locals.

 I've challenged them the last two years to follow the spirit of charter  section 14.3 and have the city electorate vote on the changes they want to make to the west end of Ludington Avenue at the next regular election, but they don't want us to have any input on such an expenditure of funds and such a major change to a local park that is nationally recognized as one of Michigan's best. 

They know they will lose if it comes to that, based not only on the high costs, but also because of the radical changes that won't be embraced by actual residents. 

I certainly do appreciate your efforts by voicing the peoples concerns about the plans to develop West Ludington Ave.

 It's among my high priorities, because I love the section of beach as it is that they are trying to alter; I think if they feel they must ask the MI DNR Trust Funds for money it would be to fix the road shoulders in town that have now officially been made into Michigan bike trails

Technically, the bike trail systems the state has mapped out are often terrible choices.  They would have you ride on US 10 between Scottville and Ludington when there are plenty of more scenic and safer roads to get through the area.  Whoever did these are probably old MDOT bigwigs that haven't rode a bike since they got a driver's permit.


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