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No conflict of interest...rules city of Sunnyside attorney

Scott Beyer, attorney for the City of Sunnyside, was tasked last month with determining if two members of the Sunnyside Planning Commission should recuse themselves regarding the application of the appearance of fairness doctrine.

At last month's meeting Commissioner Jeff Barrom asked Planning Commission Chairman Brent Cleghorn if he would consider recusing himself from any future discussions about the airport due to a recent opinion piece Cleghorn wrote in the Daily Sun News on the city's airport overlay ordinance.

Cleghorn said he wouldn't and planning commission vice-chair De Ann Hochhalter took issue with that and asked Beyer to come back at last night's meeting and offer an opinion.

Cleghorn countered that Hochhalter should recuse herself and accused the vice-chairman of having communication with her son-in-law, who is Sunnyside Mayor Pro-tem Jim Restucci. Hochhalter denied having any improper communications with Restucci.

Beyer told the commissioners the airport overlay zoning district ordinance is an area-wide ordinance, not specific to any one property.

The appearance of fairness doctrine is limited to quasi-judicial action, which wouldn't apply here.

In Beyer's opinion, neither Cleghorn nor Hockhalter appear to violate any appearance of fairness.

Members of the commission also looked at the airport overlay project ordinance again. The commission is hoping to send the document forward to the Sunnyside City Council in January.

Some changes were requested by commissioners to the document. Cleghorn pointed out that the commission recommended the buffer zone around the airport be extended to 1,000 feet, instead of the 500 feet which is listed in the document. Cleghorn also took issue with some language in the ordinance. He thought properties in zone one should be able to apply for conditional use permits. As of now the ordinance states all residential uses are prohibited.

City staff will make any changes needed and try to get the document ready for the commissioners by next month's meeting. The goal is for the commission to have a complete document they can forward on to council.

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