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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 3 - 9 , 2002


Bellevue attorney finds no conflict of interest

Maple Ridge rescindment needs reasons

Express Staff Writer

The public learned more Thursday night about the Bellevue City Council’s rescindment of its approval of the Maple Ridge Subdivision, an action taken at its meeting two weeks ago.

The question of a conflict of interest was raised at the council’s March 14 meeting, when Councilman Wayne Douthit made three motions to revisit, to rescind and to table the subdivision’s preliminary plat, which had been conditionally approved on Feb. 28.

But Bellevue prosecuting attorney Frederick Allington dismissed any question of conflict of interest on Thursday night.

In Allington’s opinion, there was no conflict of interest on the part of the Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission in recommending approval of Maple Ridge’s preliminary plat to the city council.

Allington also said there was no conflict of interest on the part of Commissioner Mike Choat in representing Maple Ridge developers Cindy and Ken Ward.

At the March 14 meeting, Douthit said he thought there might be a conflict of interest involved with the subdivision, which he said he wanted to discuss in executive session.

His fellow council members voted unanimously for each motion, except for the absent Parke Mitchell and Tammy Schofield.

There was no discussion of the motions before they were voted on.

To determine if there was any misconduct on the part of the city or Choat, Mayor John Barton asked Allington to look over the minutes of the March 14 meeting.

Allington told the council that he had determined that Choat had informed the P&Z that he was representing the Wards and that he had recused himself.

"So there was no conflict of interest," the attorney said. "Idaho Code says he could do what he did if he acknowledged a conflict and recused himself."

Then Allington told the council that if the council had rescinded its Feb. 28 vote because of a conflict of interest, "then this is not a reason and it shouldn’t have been discussed in executive session."

Councilman Dale Shappee said he had no recollection of a conflict of interest being discussed in the executive session that followed the March 14 council meeting.

He said he originally voted against the Feb. 28 motion to conditionally approve the Maple Ridge preliminary plat, so he was "glad to see it rescinded."

He told the council he voted for the rescindment because he thought the application had problems.

"We halted it because of the merits of the subdivision," Douthit said.

Choat resigned as a P&Z commissioner on March 19, stating in his letter, "Due to Galena Engineering’s recent string of projects within the city of Bellevue, it has become uncomfortable for me to serve my clients and serve on the P&Z."

Choat, who was present Thursday night representing the Wards, was praised by Barton for his seven years of service to the city.

P&Z chair, Laira Thomas, added her praise and her support of Choat.

She told the council that he was "very clear" about stating when he was representing a client and then recusing himself.

Councilman Parke Mitchell said, "I think Mike represented himself honestly."

He added that he thought "the nut of the whole issue" was whether or not the council had reason for rescinding its approval of Maple Ridge.

Jim Laski, the Ward’s attorney, told the council that under the open meeting law, his clients were entitled to know the reason why their application had been rescinded.

Although the council gave no reasons Thursday night, Councilwoman Joanna Ehrmantraut made a motion to hold a special meeting to discuss the rescindment and the merits of the subdivision.

A tentative date for the meeting has been set for April 9.

On Friday morning, Choat said he was glad he had been "vindicated of any wrongdoing" by the city’s attorney.

"I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, I never thought I had done anything wrong," he said. "I am still a great friend of the city, and will do all I can to help the city."


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.