Hesperia village council at a stalemate.

July 10, 2019

The Hesperia Village Hall. To the left, is the property proposed for the medical marijuana dispensary.

Hesperia village council at a stalemate.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HESPERIA – Feuding among village council members is causing a disruption in village business getting accomplished.

For the past several months, the council has not had enough members show up for scheduled meetings resulting in no action, said Village President Mike Farber.

In order for a seven-member board to conduct a meeting, at least four members – a quorum – must be present.

With the resignation of three members and one who reportedly has been a repeat no-show, the council can’t form a quorum to hold meetings. Council members Kristin Denbesten and Carol Kochans resigned at least a month ago, and JR Derks recently resigned Monday, July 8, Farber said. Without a quorum to hold meetings, their resignations can’t even be accepted by the board.

Farber said he is frustrated and wishes the council would just work together for the good of the community.

One source of contention among the council is a proposed medical marijuana dispensary in the former Hesperia Variety Store building located next to the village office. Development of that project stalled last January when the council deadlocked on a decision to approve it. Voting in favor of the ordinance were Farber, Jim Smith and Joyce McDonald, and voting “no” were Mike Maynard, Denbesten and Kochans. Derks was absent. Smith and McDonald remain on the board.

As no meetings occur, the village is very limited in being able to get much accomplished, Farber said. “We can’t do any work on the roads,” he said.

Fortunately, bills are getting paid, and village employees are still getting their pay checks, he said.

The council is also without a village attorney. The village terminated its previous counsel, the Muskegon law firm of Williams Hughes, PLLC, last winter. Although, Farber said council is able to consult with attorney Jon Schrier on a limited basis, because the president is authorized to make payments of $2,500 or less.

In addition to the shrinking village council, there are recall efforts launched against both Farber and Derks to have them ousted from their positions. With Derks’ recent resignation, Farber said the former councilman could rescind his resignation if the recall effort fails or is abandoned.

Farber said his opponents are trying to force him out of office. “They figured I’d resign,” he said. But he’s holding his ground.

Another battleground issue are the islands near the Hesperia dam on the White River, Farber said. There is currently a law suit over property rights involving a former councilman Lou Nemastil, he said.

Despite the drama on the council, good things are happening in the village, said Farber. The recent Family Fun Fest over the Fourth of July was a huge success with a grand parade through downtown and a brilliant fireworks display. Also, community members and the village’s Department of Public Works employees earlier this summer gathered together to make improvements to the iconic boardwalk at the Hesperia Dam by replacing aging boards and planting flowers.

Farber said there are about eight or nine community members interested in filling the vacancies on the board.

If a quorum would show up for a meeting, perhaps the vacancies will be filled.

In the meantime, Farber said he continues to accomplish what business he can in the village until some peace can be restored.

“These guys are barking up trees to cause problems.”

Editor’s Note: OCP was unsuccessful in recently contacting JR Derks and Mike Maynard. It should be noted that both gentlemen have reached out to OCP in the past. They are both urged to contact OCP at 231-923-0113 if they would like to provide any further insight on this issue.

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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