Otisco Township supervisor’s living arrangements debated


By Emilee Nielsen • Last Updated 12:11 pm on Thursday, June 15, 2017

Otisco Township Supervisor Joseph Daller talks about the status of his residency during Tuesday’s meeting of the board. — Daily News/Emilee Nielsen

OTISCO TOWNSHIP — A question of this township supervisor’s residency was on the table Tuesday evening.

During the regular meeting of the Otisco Township Board, Supervisor Joseph Daller addressed a May 24 letter received by Clerk Lynda Sower and Treasurer Cara Johnson questioning whether Daller lives within Otisco Township, as is required in his role as supervisor.

“By not living in the township, he’s deceiving us. With his dishonesty on his residence, how are we to trust his leadership on our township matters?” Daller read from the letter.

The letter stated copies had been sent to all members of the township board — except Daller — and to the Ionia County clerk. Trustees Ben Oatley and Dan Zeigler said they didn’t receive copies of the letter. The letter noted an address in the city of Belding where Daller has been staying.

The letter was signed, “a concerned resident.”

Daller said he has temporarily moved into a home in Belding and has been staying there since the weekend of May 6. He said the house number included in the letter was incorrect and he provided the correct address. He said his permanent address remains on Ellis Road in Otisco Township and it’s the same address on his driver’s license and voter registration.

“It’s a business opportunity and venture for me as a contractor,” he said. “This is a temporary move. It’s a piece of property I picked up to remodel and sell just as quickly as I can and I will be back to my Ellis Road address.”

Daller told board members and the audience he talked to previous Ionia County Clerk Tonda Rich about the situation and he was given the go-ahead to move on a temporary basis.

“She advised me that as long as it was a temporary move, that my driver’s license, address, all of my corresponding information remained within Otisco Township, that I would be fine for a temporary move,” he said.

Daller said he also spoke with Catherine Mullhaupt, the director of member information services for the Michigan Township Association, who told him as long as his intent was to move back to his home on Ellis Road, it was fine for him to reside somewhere else temporarily.

Daller cited examples of other township board members and supervisors leaving the townships they serve in for periods of time, including those who go south for the winter and those who spend summers at cottages instead of their usual residences.

Daller said he acquired the property in question last November. The property is in Daller’s daughter’s name and she is also living at the residence.

Sower said she’s worried that whoever wrote the letter has more information they didn’t share and that the board “hasn’t heard the last of this.”

“I just think it’s too bad that you didn’t come to us and tell us this instead of us having to get a letter,” Sower told Daller. “Instead we get blindsided by this. I think we really had a right to know that as board members that you were doing that.”

Sower and Johnson also talked to Mullhaupt. Johnson said it’s all about Daller’s intent in terms of legality.

Johnson said there are three circumstances under which what Daller is doing wouldn’t be legal: If he were to change his address on his driver’s license, his voter’s registration or if he were to change his principal address for tax purposes.

“Other than that, as long as your intent … and Joe is clear about his intent, there shouldn’t be an issue,” she said.

Johnson also said according to Mullhaupt, if after a year the concerned resident decided Daller wasn’t following the rules, that person could try to start a recall of Daller.

“She (Mullhaupt) said if this were to come up in a court, basically what you’d have to do is show intent to the judge,” she said. “That’s all a judge is going to look at if it’s your intent to live there.”

Zeigler said he didn’t care about the residency and is not concerned about the issue.

 

CEMETERY MAPPING

Also discussed during Tuesday’s meeting was the possibility of having a company come to the Smyrna Cemetery and the Otisco Township Cemetery to distinguish the placement of bodies that township officials don’t have maps for.

“I feel we are in dire need of somebody figuring out where bodies are at,” Sower said. “If there’s no stone, I don’t know if there’s a body there.”

Otisco Township Board members discussed the need for a cemetery mapping company to come to Smyrna cemetery and Otisco Township cemetery to mark where bodies are buried. Clerk Lynda Sower said there are areas where the township is hesitant to sell plots because they’re not sure whether there are already bodies there.

Sower said there are some areas in the cemeteries where the township is hesitant to sell plots because they’re unsure whether there’s already a body there. The mapping service would locate bodies, making it possible for the township to mark them.

There was no action regarding the issue, but Sower said she would set up a time for a representative from the mapping company to visit the township and present on cost and procedure to have the cemeteries mapped.

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