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Thread: Party to a lawsuit against municipality have a conflict of interest?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Apr 2004
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    Utah
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    137

    Party to a lawsuit against municipality have a conflict of interest?

    Howdy, all!

    To me this seems a bit of a stretch, but a citizen of our town is one of a group who have filed for a district court review of a board of adjustment decision to uphold a town council approval of a final subdivision plat. (The complaint asks the Town to abide by its own rules). The issue may never come back before the council again, and is very unlikely ever to be heard again by the planning commission. Nevertheless, members of the planning commission have stated objections to this citizen, who is an alternate planning board member appointed by the town council and sworn in last month, taking a seat on the board due to a "conflict of interest". The citizen has stated that, should the issue under court review come before the board, she would declare a conflict (as she interprets to be required by state law) and recuse herself (which is not specifically required by law). Those complaining are not satisfied. I am having a hard time figuring out what the problem would be, but you all have helped me before when I was being dull-minded. Does their concern have merit?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I don't believe their concern has merit. I also question whether a "conflict of interest" would apply in this case. Does this disputed case impact her financially? Would she have the power to decide on it (it doesn't seem like she does at this point)?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I don't believe their concern has merit. I also question whether a "conflict of interest" would apply in this case. Does this disputed case impact her financially? Would she have the power to decide on it (it doesn't seem like she does at this point)?
    ... yeah, but. There is the appearance of a conflict. Most boards and commissions struggle with legitimacy- the whole it's who you know thing. Issues like this do not help. I've had board members recuse themselves to avoid appearing like they had a conflict.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    The result of the court review, if in her favor, would presumably be an order for the BOA and/or the town council to consider the issue again, and possibly a hold on continued construction of the project, which is ongoing. There is no money involved at this point, although down the road, who knows what the builder might do. Still, it would never be money in or out of HER pocket. I can't easily imagine a scenario in which the planning board of which she is now an alternate member having to give another recommendation on it.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    ... yeah, but. There is the appearance of a conflict. Most boards and commissions struggle with legitimacy- the whole it's who you know thing. Issues like this do not help. I've had board members recuse themselves to avoid appearing like they had a conflict.
    ... yeah, but. I don't like recusing because of the "appearance of a conflict" espeically in smaller places where everybody knows everybody else and where the "appearance" could be something as absurd as "their kids go to school together, so she's biased in the developer's/opponent's favor". Where does it end?

    If the statute limits conflict of interest to direct or indirect financial interest, then that's good enough for me.

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