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Debate on Grand Haven councilwoman's residency dominates City Council meeting

Mayor Catherine McNally alleged that Councilwoman Karen Lowe primarily lives in Grand Haven Township. Lowe said the claim was intended to damage her reputation.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Tensions ran high at Monday night's City Council meeting in Grand Haven as two members went head-to-head.    

At the meeting, Mayor Catherine McNally alleged that Councilwoman Karen Lowe does not live in Grand Haven, and should not be on the council.

Lowe denies those allegations and said the council should not legally have had the item on the agenda, and the city's attorney agreed with her.

But there was still a discussion that took up a bulk of the meeting.

McNally alleges that Lowe primarily lives in Grand Haven Township and not at her cottage within the city limits. She's basing those claims on public water records. 

"I believe the city water records standing alone establish Mrs. Lowe has not been a resident of the Poplar cottage or an inhabitant of the City of Grand Haven since her election," McNally said. "Regardless of her claims, she does not reside the greater part of the time in her historic cottage in Highland Park."

Lowe was able to respond, reading a letter from her attorney debunking those claims.

"I would like the city to file appropriately in the court saying they are accusing me of this and give me the opportunity. I am fully confident that it will find that I am, and my husband, we are both residents," Lowe said. "I am not comfortable with this being held in the court of public opinion without all of the facts, and in front of the council in this way. I think this was intentional in a way to try to damage my reputation."

After Lowe spoke, audience members cheered.

The city's attorney said the council cannot legally remove a member of council. After the discussion, the item was removed from the agenda.

Lowe says the allegations about her residency are only being brought up now because she voted in favor of a marijuana ordinance the mayor opposed.

McNally has not responded to that claim.

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