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Saturday, April 19, 2008

An Open Letter to the County Commission, Planning Staff and Planning Commission

April 19, 2008

As a concerned citizen and past planning commissioner, I am aware that each year county legal staff gives a serious overview in a public meeting of the obligation of planning commissioners to be open about declaring their conflicts of interest, particularly as it involves “a financial interest, direct or indirect” and the importance of recusing themselves where such a conflict may exist. Jamie Lythgoe, real estate broker, is perceived by many to have a serious conflict of interest. She is one of the signers of the petition to incorporate Powder Mountain. By signing the incorporation petition, she effectively takes the following positions:

1. She has shown that despite her claims of no conflict of interest, that she has a clear interest in and association with Powder Mountain.

2. She supports the move to bypass the zoning regulations of Weber County, regulations which as a commissioner she should be upholding.

3. She has shown loyalty to the family business at Powder Mountain over loyalty to the common good. The incorporation petition deprives citizens of their constitutional rights to vote on their own jurisdiction. It deprives them of the right to vote on the people who will supposedly “represent” them and who will have the power to tax them. The petitioners have taken advantage of an unconstitutional loophole created by the state legislature.

4. She has refused to recuse herself when there was an obvious family involvement in the Powder Mountain issue. Though legal counsel may not have been aware at the time, the community was very aware of this involvement. At the last minute she abstained from the vote when she should have recused herself from the issue entirely, from the beginning.

While planning commission procedures suggest not excluding whole categories of business or professional people, it is clear that when the county does appoint a realtor/real estate developer/broker to the planning commission it naturally sets up conflicts of interest, both real and perceived. If this appointee denies, approves, or places certain conditions on a project, it ultimately affects whether their brokerage firm may get the listings on those projects. It puts that commissioner in a potential position of handing out favors to others or helping to create zoning laws which are favorable to themselves and their colleagues. In addition, allowing such a commissioner to vote on projects that are in direct competition with their own developments, is in my mind, an even more flagrant conflict of interest. At the moment, we have only one such realtor/broker/real estate developer on the commission but it would be wise to consider that these same conflicting conditions will apply not only to present commissioners but to future appointees.

It is unconscionable for Mrs. Lythgoe, or any other commissioner, to vote on issues that directly affect their own family’s business or real estate interests, including any future proposed developments by other signers of the incorporation petition. But even more importantly, Mrs. Lythgoe should not vote on issues that affect Powder Mountain’s direct competitors i.e. Wolf Mountain, Wolf Creek, Snow Basin or any new resorts which could come before the commission.

I am aware of one county board whose members are required to sign a statement disclosing their affiliations, both in business and in the community, as well as an ethics agreement. These signed statements are notarized and on file. I would ask the you to institute such a policy with planning commissioners and that it be updated yearly, including any ownership in holding companies and LLCs.

A wise legal counsel once said, “The integrity of the process is as important as the decision that is rendered.”

Sharon Holmstrom
3128 North River Drive, Eden, Utah 84310


Jamie Lythgoe said...

Please address any concerns you may have to:

Ogden Valley Township Planning Commission Office
Attention: Sherri Sillito,
Planning department
2380 Washington Blvd.
Ogden, UT 84401

Sherri Sillito 801-399-8791

Sherry Sillito, Planning Department

Anonymous said...

All of the above is true, and the Ogden Valley Planning Commission leadership will not remove Lythgoe from the Commission. Worse, the Weber County Commissioners will not remove her either. They appointed her and no matter what rules she violates, they protect their appointees. That is why we need to vote out these Weber County Commissioners, they will not stand up for their constituents. Zogmaister made told many people how unhappy she was with Bill Seigel over the PM hearings, but she never brought up Lythoge's obvious conflict of interest behavior. It is time for a change in the Weber County leadership, get out and vote against the incumbents, anyone would be better than what we have.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this the limit. Lythgoe gets caught with her hand in the cookie jar, and she refers people to the OVPC leadership. She must be pretty dumb not to realize that hundreds of letters, calls and e-mail's have aready been sent to the OVPC and the Weber County Commissioners that have been ignored on this conflict of interest. Lythgoe has abused the trust of the people of Ogden Valley, and that is never going to change. Her own husband said this was a business decision even after she said there was nothing in the Powder Mountain development that would benefit her or her family.

We just don't have people on either commission with the guts to do the right thing.

I suggest they hold an open hearing on the Conflict of Interest issue involving Jamie Lythgoe and let the public weigh in. Don't hold your breath until that happens. They are afraid the truth will come out and they might have to do something about Lythgoe.

Anonymous said...

So how is this post not name calling? How is this post not being critical of "those who would try to simply do something"? So how is virtually everything written on this blog, which has been taken over apparently by a couple of people self annointed as Ogden Valley Leaders, not what "Utard wanna be" accused "get with Utah realities" of?

If you who write very negative things and accusations about OVPC members and Weber County Commissioners and can not see your own hypocrasy and restrain from slandering the only guy in the Ogden Valley who has actually done something besides talk (machman), then you ought to get off the blog.

If it weren't for him do you think the legislators would ever know what acquisition value property taxation even is? Do you think any of the many elderly who qualify for the circuit breaker or other exemptions would know about it? Do you think anyone in Ogden Valley or Weber County had the fortitude to stand up to the County assessors, Commissioners, and legislators for all Utahans?

The answer is no. And whoever falsely accused "machman" has another agenda or is very poorly informed.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I missed something, but I don't see any references to "machman" in this thread. Can you help me out as I missed the "slandering."