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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another Ogden Valley Planning Commission Has Some Baggage

This is one of two articles today, and we have provided updates to previous posts, so be sure to scroll down for more riveting Ogden Valley news.

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.

Liberty Man Recieves Presidential Pardon

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:

Property Taxes Not Collected on Home Occupied by Ogden Valley Planning Commissioner

This is where the story gets interesting.  We will attempt to paraphrase the situation but suggest that you read the above article in its entirety to fully understand.

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.


Nathan Detroit said...

Right on Valley! If anyone recalls, Jim Banks was also challenged as a OVPC member several years ago due to his employment by several developers in Ogden Valley while he served on the OVPC. It is too bad the Weber County Commissioners did not bother to find out he was a convicted felon when they appointed him.

The County Commissioners pack the OVPC with mostly pro Commission people and that has been an open secret for years. They use this and the GEM committee to try to give themselves credibility in Ogden Valley. Guess what, it doesn't fool anyone up here.


Here's an idea: why not replace all the OVPC members with human-sized bobblehead dolls? That way, when a new proposal comes to it with an approval recommendation from the planning department (which they all do), after "hearing" the protests of Valley residents, Jim Gentry can walk behind the dolls, nudge each of their heads, and they will all bobble approval, as they do now.

(Actually, a little hyperbole. A few have brains and consciences. The rest of you know who you are.)

Furd Burfel said...

Nathan, you must be dreaming to think the Weber County Commissioners would look closely at anything.

With Jamie Lythgoe, it was pointed out by many that her family owned property up at Powder Mountain when they appointed her and what did we get from the Commission? "See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil" The Commissioners looked just like those three monkeys.

Jamie Lythgoe said...

Many community members like myself and Jim Banks have devoted hundreds of hours to improve the Ogden Valley and be involved in our community.

Maybe some bloggers should be a little less critical of others and try spending a great deal of THEIR free time in county meetings and work sessions while paying a babysitter only to be criticised for YEARS for giving sought after help and genuine imput in an area of expertise.

Get real! The valley has been lucky to have Jim as a planning commissioner for these many meetings! His knowledge base has helped us all!

Seriously said...

Jamie, he hasn't been able to vote and he hasn't been able to serve on a jury because his civil liberties were stripped when he was charged as a felon. If he can't vote, shouldn't he be precluded from participating in local government as well? Just sayin.'


Jamie, Jamie, Jamie...

Don't you recognize that the opprobrium heaped on you was the result of your stubborn refusal to recuse yourself from ANY involvement in the PM discussion when your conflict came to light and, more importantly, your baldfaced lie to the OVPC, the County Commission, and the general public about your family's having no further interest in or at Powder Mountain when it clearly did, and the suspicious timing of the incorporation petition bearing your signature when you were supposedly no longer involved?

As for Banks, it is no civic contribution to accept an appointment to the OVPC when your primary role is to foster the private interests of the developers who write your paychecks over the general welfare of the people of the valley, and to take offense at any suggestion of conflict of interest and to fail or refuse to recuse yourself when the conflict is raised. That isn't serving the community; that's trying to serve two masters.

Volunteering vs. blogging? I personally know of two qualified, intelligent, well motivated men who applied for a vacant position of the OVPC not too many years ago, and after appearing at a County Commission meeting and giving testimony against one or another of Ron Catanzero's bonehead projects, their applications were rejected by the Commission without so much as an acknowledgement, purportedly on the basis of their having a CONFLICT OF INTEREST!

This county and its officials, both elected and appointed, would not recognize a conflict of interest if it bit them in the butt. How's that for real?

Shelby Carpenter said...

Yes Jamie, that was some sterling vetting process the Weber County Commission did in your case and Jim Banks case. We hope they don't go into airport security next.

As to your complaint, there are many people who give more to to this Valley in ten seconds than you and Banks have contributed in their lives. Your premise is that because you got caught in a clear conflict of Interest that it should be overlooked because you balanced that out by lying about your family ownership and possible gains.

I want to thank you for becoming the poster child for Conflict of Interest in everybody's minds. No one will every forget your dishonest fiasco.