Loudon Planning Board Chair Suspected of Conflict of Interest
|Published: 06-16-2023 4:05 PM
At the Loudon Planning Board meeting Thursday night, Jeffrey Green wore two hats serving as the chairman of the board and an applicant presenting plans for approval.
He presided over the meeting for the first six minutes, calling the group to order and took roll call. But when it came time for public hearings he recused himself as chairman and stood to present his application.
Green, who became chairman in April, is a surveyor and presented plans for alterations to the site plan for 3GG, LLC. But the drawings he presented were sent to board members the day of the meeting, rather than the required 10 days in advance.
Many board members felt uncomfortable accepting Green’s application because it failed to meet timeline requirements. They worried that making an exception would show preferential treatment.
“You’re asking us to break regulation,” alternate member Bill Taranovich said to Green. “If we do this as a board, we could never hold anybody else accountable to that regulation.”
“There are times when you can make exceptions,” Green retorted.
Board member Rodney Phillips was staunchly opposed to the idea. “I think it’s very dangerous for us to accept these plans,” he said.
“The applicant is the chair of this board, and if we allow him to just bring in plans without us having the 10 days to review them, that does not allow us to deny anyone else,” Phillips continued. “I do not think at all we should do this. It sets an extremely bad precedent for this board.”
Board member Josh Pearl agreed.
“I’m concerned if we are setting a precedent, or if in the future there’s going to be an issue that special treatment is given to customers of the chairman,” he said. “We have to be careful because it could get contentious if we’re strict with others moving forward.”
Board members and the public have confronted Green about the potential conflict before. Long before he served on the board, Green submitted a large portion of the applications to the board. Since 2020, he has presented over a third of all applications. In 2021 he submitted 58% of all applications.
At a “Meet the Candidates” event in March, before Green was elected, an attendee asked if there would be a conflict of interest between his work as a surveyor and his role on the board.
“No, I don’t believe it would,” Green said. He explained that his expertise as a surveyor would aid the board in its work.
In April, board members questioned the newly-elected chairman further. But Green said he planned to scale back his surveying work in the coming years and mentioned past board members who have brought business before the board without issue.
“I’d like to think that as chairman, I have a board that is non-biased toward me or my clients or anybody else's,” he said. “I just expect equal treatment like everybody else on the board.”
On Thursday, Phillips made a motion to push the discussion of Green’s application to the next board meeting in July. Pearl seconded the motion.
“We have to be careful so that nobody misinterprets intentions or treatment or preferences or any of that because that’s a slippery slope and it gets steep quick,” Pearl said.