Tuesday night, the Davidson Town Board will again take up the issue of a rezoning request for the new CHS mental health facility on highway 73. It will pass, and there is really very little question about that. The Board had a hearing last month, and the issue was sent to the Planning Board where the request received unanimous approval according to an email from one of our Planning Board members.
Readers may remember that we raised the issue of Commissioner Jenest voting on the rezoning request since his firm did the design work for the large, lighted roadside sign that is behind the requested zoning change. See here and here for that background. While it does not seem right to allow CHS to game the system with this rezoning request and the preferred solution is for the Town require CHS use the Board of Adjustment process for this variance, the larger issue of trust in government revolves around letting a Commissioner vote on an issue where his firm has directly worked on the issue in question.
There is a conflict of interest here, and Commissioner Jenest should be allowed to recuse himself.
Last month he told aShortChronicle that he would "absolutely" plan to offer his recusal on the issue. Let's hope nothing has changed on that front. If he does offer his recusal, then the Board should allow it.
At the last work session, the Board heard from the Town Attorney, Rick Kline, on the State's ethics legislation around when Commissioners can be recused. The Board should be commended for taking a closer look at this. This is important. Very little negatively impacts how the public perceives government more than when people think the system is rigged for elected officials benefit.
Board members can allow Commissioner Jenest to recuse himself. Let's hope they do so.