What is considered a conflict of interest?

Airport hangar lease tabled after mayor identified as leesee and leasor

PINEDALE – The Pinedale Town Council tabled a proposed five-year hangar lease after discussing a potential conflict of interest with Mayor Bob Jones.

The action took place at the Monday, Jan. 22, Pinedale Town Council meeting when Jones was absent from the meeting due to a family emergency.

ARJ Extra, LLC., assumed the hangar lease previously signed by Robert and Angela Hocker. The previous lease would have expired in 2019. The request was to extend the lease to the new owner for five years and the airport board had already approved the lease.

However, council member Tyler Swafford inquired “Who is the representative for ARJ?”

Airport manager Jim Parker said, “Bob Jones.” Swafford questioned if there was an appearance of impropriety.

In November of 2017, Jones had nominated himself to finish an Airport Board seat vacated by Barbara Boyce. At that time, the remaining four council members approved his nomination. The board seat expires in December of 2019

Swafford said two months later the council is being asked to approve a lease agreement and have the mayor sign a contract with himself and also as a representative for the Airport Board.

“The timing is what appears inappropriate,” Swafford said. “Bob is affiliated with all three parties.”

Councilman Matt Murdock said the issue should be brought up when Jones was available. He added, “We live in a small town where there are a lot of arms-length transfers.” He added the airport board approved the lease with a 4-0 vote.

Swafford said, “I’m not trying to assassinate his character when he is not here.”

Murdock defended Jones, saying, “I don’t see a person harmed.”

Parker agreed saying Jones did not vote during the Airport Board meeting. He added Jones’ son has been taking flying lessons for the past few months and when the hangar came up Jones got it. Jones was made aware of the hangar being available through his association on the board, Parker said.

Nylla Kunard said she was not willing to vote down the lease.

Councilman Jim Brost made a motion and the lease was tabled.

Also at the Monday meeting, additional funding of $1,480 for Rio Verde Engineering was approved to complete the Orcutt Hill Annexation plat. Additional work was required when an error was found in the original plat transfer from Sublette County that omitted a fence line.

Brost asked what would happen if the council did not complete the plat. Attorney Ed Wood said then the annexation would not happen.

Initially, the area was approved for annexation so a cell phone tower could be built to improve wireless service and coverage. However, at the last two council meetings members of the public objected to that use.

Wood suggested if the council no longer wanted the property, members should repeal the annexation to make things cleaner.

Community member John Paravicini reminded the council that there is a reversion clause in the original transfer. He said if the county felt the property was not going to be used as intended, it could take back the property. Wood said the original covenants that dictate the uses for the property would prevail.

Other actions at the Monday, Jan. 22, meeting included:

• A five-year conditional use permit was issued to the Bureau of Land Management allowing single-wide trailers at 115 S. Lincoln to be used for seasonal workers. A $500 application fee was also waived. A four-year permit was issued is 2009 and due to oversight had expired. The request was reviewed by the Pinedale Planning and Zoning Commission on Jan. 10, and one neighbor emailed concerns that a branch of government was receiving special treatment that a regular citizen most likely would not be granted.

While the BLM had requested a 10-year permit, the planning and zoning recommendation to the Council was to review the permit in five years.

• A memorandum of understanding with the Sage and Snow Garden Club to provide flower baskets throughout town was approved.

• Fees were waived for the Pinedale Fine Arts Council to use American Legion Park for a summer concert series June 30, July 4, Aug. 3, Aug. 11 and also for Wind River Mountain Fest July 20, 21 and 22.

• Dates were approved to allow 24-hour liquor sales for March 17 St. Patrick’s Day, July 14 Rendezvous, Oct. 27 Halloween and Dec. 31 New Year’s Eve.

• A memorandum of understanding was approved with Happy Endings Animal Rescue to allow housing of animals at the town’s animal shelter.

• Actions to appoint Kay Malkowski to the Park and Tree Board were tabled. Wood asked to be given time to review the board’s bylaws to determine if residency is a prerequisite. Council member Brost asked if there were any other letters of interest and requested they be included in the package for future board appointments.

• A memorandum of understanding contracting with the Sublette County Unified Fire Department was approved.

• The May 28 council meeting was canceled due to the Memorial Day holiday.

• An agreement with ESC Engineering was approved for $5,670 for required maintenance of the town’s water system. The company submitted the only quote.

• A bid of $261,255 was accepted from Teletractors, Inc., for the pathway project. The only other bid received was from RS Bennett for $389,925. The Jorgensens Engineering estimate was $414,355.

• Lora Hittle was appointed to the Pinedale Planning and Zoning Commission to fill an unexpired term until August 2018. She replaces Brian Gray, who resigned from the board.

• Pinedale High School gymnasium was designation as the polling place for the upcoming May elections.

• Three separate ordinances that had passed first and second readings, before being tabled years ago, were taken off the table and defeated. The ordinances were originally tabled in 2016 and 2017. Wood advised the council members to start over rather than enact something that hadn’t been reviewed recently.

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