A rezoning for a church expansion project in Jefferson remains up in the air until the issue over whether or not new council member Kathy DuBose can vote on the matter is resolved.
A vote on the controversial request from Jefferson United Methodist Church for a rezoning to do an expansion project was on the agenda Monday night at the Jefferson City Council meeting, but no action was taken.
City attorney Ronnie Hopkins has recommended that DuBose recuse herself from voting since she and her husband retained a lawyer before she took office on the matter. The attorney spoke at several recent council meetings in opposition to the zoning change.
DuBose said at Monday’s meeting that she wants to discuss the vote issue with her attorney, who is out of town.
The rezoning request will be on the agenda at the next city council meeting slated for 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 8, at the civic center.
Jefferson UMC is asking to rezone 3.7 acres at Colley Street and Storey Street to O-I (office institutional) with construction of a family life center and 225 additional parking spaces among the plans. Plans are for the 3.7 acres to be combined with two adjacent parcels that are already zoned O-I. Further phases of the project call for two more buildings — a sanctuary and an education building.
I don't know the legal position for asking Ms. Dubose to recuse herself from a vote on the controversial rezoning but as a constituent of Ms. Dubose and a neighbor who opposes this rezoning request, I would very disappointed that my position (and many others in this neighborhood)would be unrepresented in this matter before the city council.
The real issue seems to be not that you are "represented" in a vote, but that it is a vote you like, regardless of the conflict of interest laws. Assume your councilperson owned property next door, but she favored the re-zoning. Assume further that this hypothetical councilperson spoke in favor of the re-zoning and wrote a letter to the editor saying that the re-zoning will make her land much more valuable if it passes. Would you be as concerned about being "unrepresented" on that vote, or would you be citing the same conflict of interest rules as to why a person with personal interest in the vote shouldn't participate? The conflict laws are there for a reason -- to avoid conflicts of interest. The ends don't justify the means. This is a conflict of interest, clear and simple. If it is a conflict, then she should not vote, regardless of whether you like what that vote would be.