The Weber County Commissioners may need to amend their procedure for selecting and appointing Planning Commissioners as it seems as though controversy has surrounded a few of their appointees in recent years.
First, many will remember the purported conflict of interest issue surrounding Ogden Valley Planning Commissioner Jamie Lythgoe and her involvement with Powder Mountain. More specifically, the involvement of her family.
More recently, Huntsville resident Tryge Simpson just happened to be appointed to serve on the planning commission while a rezone proposal was being petitioned for the Green Valley Academy, a "Residential Treatment Facility." As luck would have it, Mr. Simpson's home was the site being proposed for the facility, and the property was under a real estate purchase contract with the principals of the proposed Green Valley Academy. Ultimately, Laura Warburton was selected to replace Tryge Simpson.
And now, thanks to All Star investigative reporter Shanna Francis of the Ogden Valley News, significant issues surrounding Long time Ogden Valley Planning Commissioner Jim Banks have been uncovered.
First, in the 1/1/11 issue of the Ogden Valley News (OVN) we find that Jim Banks was one of nine to receive a Presidential Pardon from President Barack Obama.
Apparently Banks was charged with illegal possession of government property and was sentenced to two years probation in 1972.
Francis concluded her article with this:
A Presidential Pardon can be granted to individuals who have been convicted of a felony. When a person is convicted, as Banks was in 1972, they lose their civil liberties - the right to vote, serve on a jury, own a firearm. This is termed a civil disability. A pardon restores those rights.
Also in the 1/1/11 issue of the OVN, another compelling discovery is detailed:
Jim Banks sold his home and surrounding property in 2006 to developer Jeff Bell. 22.2 acres total. Bell received approval from the County for a cluster subdivision, but the plan called for open space for the property encompassing the Banks home. The Banks home was to be demolished and $583,000 was to be held in an escrow account to ensure that all improvements to the subdivision would be completed.
Ultimately, the bank that held the escrow filed for bankruptcy protection and the FDIC has taken over and will not release the funds for demolition. As far as the County Assessors office and the County recorders office are concerned, the home and lot do not exist - thus the Banks' pay no taxes on a non-existent property.
Perhaps the Commissioners need to do a simple background check of their applicants for the Planning commission. While everyone deserves a second chance and 1972 was a long time ago, should one who cannot vote or serve on a jury be able to serve on a planning commission? Probably not.