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Conflict of interest re: zoning board members

M DeMarco

I am a member of my municipalities zoning board. Recently we have had numerous applications from a telecommunications company to place antenna around our town. Unbeknownst to me, and without consulting me,my husband took advantage of the stock markets decline and purchased shares of that companies stock(200 shares). Does this now represent a conflict of interest for me? (this: do I now have to recuse myself from all further applications from this company?) I need help quickly.

Joe Iliff

Reformed City Planner
Best Advice: Talk to your (meaning the Zoning Board's) legal council (city attorney). Most COI (conflict of interest) provisions that I'm familiar with require you to step down if you or an immediate family member stand to get financial gain directly from a decision. I'm not sure if simply owning stock in an applicant qualifies. (If so, we better know all the stocks all our mutual funds own.) If you can't consult with the attorneys, or don't feel you can give fair consideration to the issues, step down for that case. It's always best to be too cautious.
Good rule of thumb: Avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Good Luck!