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Censure resolution passes, Allen apologizes for outbursts

At-Large Three Rivers City Commissioner Lucas Allen reads an apology letter during Tuesday’s city commission meeting, apologizing for his actions at the March 7 commission meeting. A resolution to censure Allen because of his multiple outbursts and shouting matches at the March 7 meeting was approved by commissioners.

By Robert Tomlinson
News Director

THREE RIVERS — Following the multiple outbursts by At-Large Three Rivers City Commissioner Lucas Allen at the March 7 Three Rivers City Commission meeting, city commissioners formally condemned his actions with the passage of a censure resolution Tuesday.
The move comes after Allen had repeated verbal outbursts and shouting matches with city staff and city commissioners, including Mayor Tom Lowry, at the previous city commission meeting, which led to him nearly getting removed from the meeting by police.
The resolution passed by commissioners Tuesday condemns Allen’s actions “in the strongest of terms,” and lists out the disorderly conduct shown by Allen during the meeting, including “repeated verbal outbursts while others had the right to speak, repeated use of profanity, threatening behavior, refusal to comply with the Duties of the Mayor to conduct the meeting, personal verbal attacks against members of the Commission, and antagonizing and demeaning comments towards City Staff.” Allen’s conduct, according to the resolution, “has damaged the reputation of the City of Three Rivers, and diminished the goodwill between the Commission, and the citizens.”
A list of expectations for Allen’s behavior in future interactions is also laid out in the resolution. These include refraining from the use of profanity and personal attacks against anyone participating in a meeting, observing Roberts Rules of Order and not disrupting the conduction of a meeting, remaining respectful to staff as they present requests, and “maintaining the highest standard of personal integrity and working with the City Commission and staff to further the work of the City that benefits all residents, visitors and businesses.”
If Allen’s behavior does not follow these guidelines, according to the resolution, it will “result in removal from the meeting by the Sergeant of Arms and investigated for any perceived violation of any criminal law that may have been broken.”
Prior to the vote, Allen formally apologized for his actions, reading from a letter he sent to commissioners earlier in the day. He said he “failed the commission, city staff, mayor and especially the citizens of Three Rivers” with his actions.
“I sincerely apologize for my actions, words, [and] negative behavior that resulted in the resolution of censure brought against me,” Allen said. “I am ashamed, appalled, regretful, and hold myself completely responsible and accountable for everything that went on during the last city commission meeting. I accept all admonishments, indifference, professional and objective criticism against me to include the censure issued by the city and the city commission.”
His apologies also extended to Lowry, City Manager Joe Bippus, Police Chief Scott Boling, Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Taylor Davis, Three Rivers Public Library Director Bobbi Schoon, Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Cameron Mains, At-Large Commissioner Torrey Brown, and the citizens of the city.
“I hope that we can move forward with positivity, forgiveness and the will to overcome this adversity and blight on the community that I solely created. I am truly sorry for projecting my own problems and issues onto everyone else,” Allen said. “I have learned many hard lessons and have taken certain steps, to include the help of others, to not ever have this happen again. I hope that everyone will understand that I will continue to develop, implement and convey your messages in a more efficient, effective, direct, polite and politically correct manner. Again, I hold myself accountable, no one else did this but myself. There’s no excuses, no sugarcoating, it was all me.”
Lowry, who took the brunt of Allen’s outbursts during the March 7 meeting, accepted Allen’s apology, thanking Allen for saying what he said in the apology. He added that it was “appropriate” to pass the censure resolution so it is on the record of the commission.
A few residents spoke about the incident during public comment prior to the resolution’s passage. Mandy Christophel called Allen’s behavior “completely unacceptable” and “deplorable,” calling for Allen to resign as commissioner.
“I actually had citizens reach out to me about speaking without using their names and addresses because they were in fear of retaliation from you,” Christophel said. “I don’t appreciate having to come here and speak out against a bully, and I’d like to ask you for your resignation, even if it’s just a comment from a citizen.”
Alison Haigh said in her public comment Allen’s behavior at the March 7 meeting was “very uncalled for,” recalling her time as a city commissioner and having disagreements about certain things.
“I sat behind that commission desk for 10 years, and never once did I ever think about raising my voice like that, even though I was upset with some of these commissioners, the mayor, the city manager, city staff. Never once did I think about having an outburst like that,” Haigh said. “This is a job. You represent the city and the citizens of this community. … I am also calling for your resignation.”
Rebecca Shank also spoke during public comment, showing sympathy for Allen, referencing injuries Allen sustained while in the Iraq War.
“I would like to express that I feel compassion for Mr. Allen and that he has a condition which, in certain circumstances, causes him to perhaps lose control, and how we respond to that is a matter of our own personal responsibility,” Shank said. “I just would like to express that we try to understand what our people have experienced and what they’re going through, and I want to thank Lucas for the fact that he was attempting to serve people here at the meeting, even though it wasn’t perhaps in the appointed way of doing so.”
The resolution was passed unanimously by the board by voice vote. First District Commissioner Pat Dane was not in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.
In other business…
• Commissioners approved ordinance amendments regarding special exception use procedures and marijuana ordinance provisions following a second public hearing. The amendments include timeline requirements for permit applications, reporting requirements for approved security plans, use of industrial zoning for all marijuana growers, processors and secure transport facilities, as well as details added to definitions and other corrections for clarification.
• Commissioners approved the vacation of a portion of South Street between Douglas Avenue and Erie Street. The vacation was part of the sale of the old Three Rivers Public Library building to St. Joseph County to help clean up the parcel’s title, as a significant portion of the building’s parking lot at the rear of the building was constructed in South Street’s right-of-way.
• Commissioners approved 2023 street sweeping services to Sweeping Corporation of America for $97,753.62. This is due to delays in the city receiving a street sweeper they ordered back in February 2022, which they were supposed to receive in spring of this year, but has been delayed to September of 2023, according to city staff.
• Commissioners approved a resolution supporting a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant application for pickleball courts at Armstrong Park. If approved, the grant would be for $150,000 with a match of $81,350 in funds that have already been raised for the project.
• Commissioners approved the appointment of Sam Smallcombe to the city’s Planning Commission, with a term to expire March 1, 2026.
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or

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