“We clearly have a Supervisor stepping over her bounds,” was a statement made by County Board Chair Chris Nelson when wrapping up a discussion during the Dec. 15 meeting of the Polk County Board of Supervisors. The meeting started with Supervisor Amy Middleton asking if it was a conflict of interest for Nelson to have part in Resolution 57-20; a zoning change to amend zoning district map for Town of Osceola (Gray Event Properties). Nelson was a builder on a building on the property. “Ya, there is no conflict of interest there,” said Nelson.
The Resolution was listed on the amended agenda as 7.d under Matters Offered For Adoption on Consent Agenda. After a first and second motion, board member Mike Pritchard, who was in attendance via phone call, expressed concern and said he would like the item removed. “There are some 40 residents plus who are objecting to that action and I think it requires some discussion by the County Board.”
Pritchard said he had been having troubles logging onto the meeting or he would have said something sooner. He said he thought the county’s technical person was going to help him.
Nelson replied, “Mike, you chose to do it over the phone, you can’t blame county staff for you not being here.”
Corporation Counsel said a motion could be made to discuss the matter. Pritchard made a motion, seconded by Supervisor Fran Duncanson. Before a vote was taken Corporation Counsel, Malia Malone, said, “I understand there is a lot of Public Comment on that topic. The majority if not entirety of the Public Comment is not about the rezone itself but the potential of the conditional use application that could come down the road. I would caution anybody from making a decision on the rezone because of an anticipated conditional use.”
Pritchard started to comment when Nelson cut him off. “I am not going to let you just jump in Mike whenever you feel like it. You are going to have to wait until you have been recognized. Since you are not here, we cannot see you raise your hand, so you are going to be last,” he said.
Nelson went on to say, “I will talk about this since Supervisor Middleton brought up this conflict. She also brought it up in Environmental Services. Nelson Construction Services, the company I work for and am part owner of, had done a project there about seven years ago. We built these people a house and they never finished it. Supervisor Middleton also made false statements in Environmental Services that said there are innuendos out there that it is a commercial building or that there is commercial plumbing in the building or the building was shut down. I feel like Supervisor Middleton really steps over the bounds by bringing up facts that she is totally unaware of and here again tonight she tries to throw that comment out there. This idea that I worked on something seven years ago- I have zero issues with it today. I want to make that clear.”
Supervisor Luke asked if the item had went through the Town Chair.
Environmental Chair Brad Olson said it passed in the Town on a 2-1 vote. He also said it went back to the same comment Malone had made, which was the rezoning and potential conditional use permit were two separate things.
Nelson said, “Supervisor Middleton put us in a very awkward position when she came on as a committee representative and she talked about the condition use and that we know what it is going to be. For her to lay that groundwork understanding with Corporation Council; that decision would have been easily appealed or overturned by her commenting on the table. We are really in some touchy waters and this is one of the reason we need more training for new Supervisors.”
When Prichard was allowed to speak, he asked why the rezoning was even on the table if the conditional permit wasn’t being considered?
Nelson replied, “That’s why you want to take it off the agenda, so you can talk about that?”
A vote was then called and saw the item being left on Consent Agenda.