Friday, April 25, 2008

Board rejects ‘conflict’ amendment

Changes would prohibit P&Z commissioners from presenting projects

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission rejected a recommendation by city staff Monday night that would have prohibited commissioners from presenting projects to the P&Z for review.

Planning Director Beth Robrahn said the city-initiated recommendation stemmed from a project presented by Commissioner Owen Scanlon in January on behalf of his employer, McLaughlin Associates Architects of Ketchum.

Scanlon recused himself at that time from his commission seat to present the project, which involved moving a building from Ketchum to Main Street in Hailey.

Robrahn said the proposed changes were intended to avoid the public perception of a conflict of interest when commissioners present projects to P&Z as part of their professional duties.

"It is difficult to have a commissioner present a project to the commission," Robrahn said. "This would be an ethical standard beyond what is legally required."

However, commissioners said they wanted to give the idea more thought.

"I think the public perception issue does merit further discussion," said Commissioner Michael Pogue, an attorney who has also presented projects to the P&Z while serving on the commission. "But I don't think we need a hard-and-fast rule on this without further discussion."

Commissioner Geoffrey Moore said, "I think we need to gain the trust of people who come to these meetings, but as long as we follow the rules and regulations there shouldn't be a problem. I'd hate to see P&Z lose good people like Owen Scanlon and Michael Pogue over this."

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