GENOLA A town councilman's lawyer said he doesn't think the town official violated state ethics when he failed to disclose an interest before voting on a heavily contested subdivision.
But Mayor Eric Hazelet said the council will revote on the issue at an upcoming meeting after councilman Bryan Draper discloses his interest in the Genola Meadows subdivision, a joint venture between the town and Planning Commission chairman Marty Larson. Hazelet also reassigned oversight of the town's water system from Draper to another council member. He said the measure was a cautionary one, not a punitive action.
"When we as a town are not in compliance in a certain fashion, we need to do all we can to come into compliance," Hazelet said.
Bill Hansen, legal counsel for Draper, said his client has done nothing wrong.
"I don't believe legally there was a conflict of interest," he said.
Hansen said Draper didn't think he had to disclose that he held trust deeds in the development.
"He believed that the only type of conflict of interest was if he had an ownership interest," he said.
Hansen then said Draper has financed and held trust deeds on several lots in the Genola Meadows subdivision.
Hansen also said several lawsuits that were previously filed against Draper and his son, Dale Draper, who was hired as project manager for the subdivision, were dismissed with prejudice. One of the lawsuits had a $250,000 default judgment against Dale Draper.
Residents of this small Utah town raised concerns, saying Draper had a compelling conflict of interest when he participated in votes on the Genola Meadows subdivision because the councilman has held three trust deeds in the development. There has also been argument over the subdivision because eight of the 10 lots range in size from 2.08 to 2.31 acres smaller than the 2.5-acre minimum mandated in town zoning.
The issue came to a head when Genola resident Emily Clinger filed a formal complaint June 19 with Hazelet, stating she believes Draper violated state code by failing to disclose that he held trust deeds in the 10-lot subdivision located at 350 E. 800 North when he voted 'aye" with council member Vail and Hazelet May 28 to lift a temporary ordinance that prevented the town from issuing building permits for the subdivision.
"I believe Councilman Bryan Draper has violated Utah Code 10-3-1308 by holding investments trust deeds in the Genola Meadows subdivision and failing to disclose this in a public meeting," she wrote.
Hazelet said he's researched the issue and feels there might have been a misstep in protocol.
"I felt there was a conflict of interest during my research," he said.
As a result, he wants the council to readdress the issue and revote after the interest has been disclosed, "which we were not aware of" before the vote.
"I just want the town to appear above reproach when possible," he said.
The council was unable to vote on the matter because Vail was not present at the meeting. He suffered a heart attack earlier in that same day. To repeal a previous vote, the same number of council members are required, Hazelet said.
"A vote would be pointless at this time," Hazelet said.
As a result of his research, Hazelet said he's also decided to reassign Draper's council duties relative to the community's water to Vail. He said he appreciated everything Draper has done for the town over the years.
"I don't mean to embarrass anyone," he said. "I felt it was the right thing."
Hazelet said he spoke with Vail about the reassignment, and Vail accepted the added duty from his hospital bed.
"He called me, I did not call him," Hazelet said. "I don't want you to think that I'm that heartless."
In addition, Hazelet said he will cancel the town's contracts with A-Team Realty and Dale Draper.
Hazelet said he is still reviewing the concerns in Clinger's letter, and he promised her he will research those concerns and address them later.
Clinger said she's glad the mayor is finally addressing her concerns.
"I feel like they're responding to the concerns better than they have before," she said.
Clinger was also surprised Draper's council duties were reassigned. He's overseen the town's water system for many years."It's a very significant thing that he's not anymore," she said.