Saturday, September 20, 2008

Greensboro Zoning Commission is in a Mess that Needs Fixing, MEMO from City Attorney

The Greensboro Zoning Commission is in need of new leadership and to see a memorandum and the response from City Attorney Terry Wood, it looks like the Zoning Commission is in need of an overhaul . I am sure in the October Zoning Commission meetings they will need to vote on a new leader and vice chair..

Let's see what the memorandum had to say from Zoning Commission member Cyndy Hayworth and the response from the City Attorney Mr. Terry Wood. Courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act., and thanks to Mr. Wood for the response to my inquiry on the issue, he is a breath of fresh air at the City Attorney's office.

NOTE (The date in memorandum from Cyndy Hayworth says September 20, 2008 but should say September 17, 2008 the attachment from Mr. Wood has it as September 20th, don't know why)


TO: Attorney Terry Wood - City of Greensboro Legal Department

CC: Mayor Yvonne Johnson – City of Greensboro
Mitch Johnson – Greensboro City Manager
Richard Hails - Greensboro Planning Department
Members Greensboro Zoning Commission
Members Greensboro City Council

FROM: Cyndy Hayworth

DATE: September 20, 2008

SUBJECT: Zoning Commission Election Procedures
In July, 2008 there were several conversations between Zoning Commission members in reference to the scheduled election of Chair and Vice Chair at the August meeting. During these conversations Greensboro City Attorney, Terry Wood, stated that there usually was not an election per se, but that seniority dictated the appointment of these positions. Taking into consideration that this was the method used, Tony Collins, outgoing Chair, suggested that using the past process would make Paul Gilmer Chair and Susan Spangler Vice Chair.

In an effort to obtain procedural information I referred to the Manual on Greensboro Zoning Commission, Section I Rules of Procedure which stated in Subsection II-A: “Chairman and Vice Chairman. A Chairman and Vice Chairman shall be elected by the Commission and shall serve for such time as may be fixed by the Commission. The Chairman shall decide all matters of order and procedure, subject to these rules, unless directed otherwise by a majority of the commission at the time. Should the Chairman and Vice Chairman be absent at any meeting, the commission shall elect a temporary chairman to serve at the meeting.”

In July, 2008 I contacted Attorney Terry Wood of the City of Greensboro Legal Department to clarify the process to elect the Chair and Vice Chair of the Greensboro Zoning Commission. Attorney Wood stated that for in the past the senior members served as Chair and Vice Chair and this had been the method for several years. I asked for clarification of the election process detailed in the manual and Attorney Wood stated that the process would have to be adhered to and an election would have to take place. It was pointed out that if the previous process was used the current Vice Chair was not eligible for reappointment as listed on the City of Greensboro August 2008 Expiration's list.

At the August, 2008 Greensboro Zoning Commission meeting, an election was held and former Vice Chair, Paul Gilmer was elected Chairman with Susan Spangler elected Vice Chair.

At the September, 2008 Zoning Commission meeting the elected Chair was in attendance but could not act as Chairman due to the replacement appointment of Ralph Johnson by Greensboro City Council member T. Diane Bellemy-Small. This appointment was passed by the City Council as replacement of Paul Gilmer’s expired term.

If the former Vice Chair was ineligible, why was he elected to the Chair position? Please advise the legal implication of the last election and what procedures we are to use moving forward. Also, is the qualification of how the election is held based on seniority?


Here is the response from Greensboro City Attorney Terry Wood:


Date: September 18, 2008

To: Cyndy Hayworth

From: A. Terry Wood, City Attorney
Re: Zoning Commission Election Procedures

This correspondence shall serve to address and clarify the points raised in your memorandum of September 17, 2008. Given the fact that the former Chair, Tony Collins, would no longer be a member of the Zoning Commission, the election of a new Chair and Vice Chair was required. This election requirement is pursuant to Section IIA of the Rules of Procedure of the Greensboro Zoning Commission which you correctly cited in your Memorandum. It was not my intent to represent to anyone that an election was unnecessary. If the custom in prior elections was for the Commission to elect a Chair and Vice Chair in accordance with seniority, such a custom would not be legally objectionable and might well be followed either by majority vote or by unanimous consent. However, an election based on seniority would merely be a courtesy and is not a legal requirement.

The former Vice Chair, Paul Gilmer was indeed not eligible for the reappointment by City Council because his allowed tenure had expired. See Greensboro Code Sec. 2-139. However, pursuant to Section 2-141 of the Greensboro Code of Ordinances, “[A]ll members of a board or commission shall hold office until successors are appointed and qualified.” At the time of the August 2008 Zoning Commission meeting, Mr. Gilmer continued to hold office since a successor had yet to be appointed and qualified. As a result, Mr. Gilmer remained eligible to serve as a Chair or Vice-Chair of the Zoning Commission during the holdover period of his term.

Moving forward, given the fact that Mr. Gilmer is no longer a member of the Zoning Commission, it is advisable that the Commission hold an election at its October meeting to select a new Chair. Such an election may be made on whatever basis each individual Commissioner, in good conscience, decides. An election awarding seniority is not required, yet it is permissible.

To iterate:

1. If the former Vice Chair was ineligible, why was he elected to the Chair position?

Answer: Although he was ineligible for reappointment for an additional term, pursuant to Code Sec. 2-141, he was still a holdover Commission Member until his replacement had been appointed and qualified. Since he continued to be a Commissioner he had the full benefits of membership and could hold the position of Chair.

2. Please advise the legal implication of the last election and what procedures we are to use moving forward.

Answer: I assume the “last election” is the one held at the August 2008 meeting at which Mr. Gilmer was elected Chair. Since Mr. Gilmer’s replacement has been appointed and is serving there should be an election held at the October 2008 meeting to elect a Chair. Ms. Spangler can Chair the election process. The vote shall be by nomination and majority vote of the Commission if unanimity cannot be obtained.

3. Is the qualification of how the election is held based on seniority?

Answer: Seniority is a custom or a courtesy it is not a legal requirement of the Commission. Each member may vote their conscience without regard to seniority.

Now let's take a closer look at the Greensboro Zoning Commission and their ties to the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition.(TREBIC)

1. Susan Spangler who at the moment is the Chairman till they vote in October 2008 is the daughter of Doug Galyon NCDOT Board Member and is also with Collins and Galyon CLICKHERE general contractors , a bronze member of TREBIC. Susan Spangler is also married to Timothy Spangler with Laughlin-Sutton Construction , and who's brother is a partner with Tony Collin's at Collins and Galyon who was the past Chairman of the Zoning Commission till a few months ago . So you had 2 members of the Zoning Commission who have major ties to TREBIC from one company and back in 2006 Ex- Vice Chairman Paul Gilmer and Tony Collins were Executive Committee Members of TREBIC. Well isn't that relationship so nice to point out for everyone to see.

2. Raymond Trapp, works for the Triad Apartment Association CLICKHERE as a Executive Director. They are also members of TREBIC and who comes in front of the Zoning Board plenty of times, companies wanting to rezone properties for apartments and you have a member of the Apartment Association on the zoning board . Well isn't that relationship so nice to point out for all to see.

3. Mary Skenes a new member of the Zoning Board works for Yost and Little Real Estate. Yost and Little is also a Bronze member of TREBIC. She was appointed by Mike Barber and Mary Skenes is also Mike Barber's campaign treasurer. So now we have a person new on the board who in looking at her resume is a part of the problem not the solution.

4. Patti Eckard CLICKHERE works for ReMax Realty, where ReMax is a bronze member of TREBIC.

5. Evelyn Miller works for the Koury Corporation, who are Gold Members of TREBIC. People with ties to the Koury corporation are some of the biggest campaign contributors to local politicians.

The Greensboro Zoning Commission has 5 out of 9 members with ties to TREBIC, isn't that relationship nice to point out. The slamming of boards and commissions with ties to TREBIC needs to stop. Maybe with a new Chairman or Vice Chairman with no ties to TREBIC might be a change for the better on the Zoning Commission. Let's hope that the 5 members above won't be a part of the chair or vice chair positions. We will see what October brings for this commission but it seems like this memo was a way to say that this is not how the process of seniority should have been done and it is time to do it by the book.


jw said...

"Susan the daughter of Doug Galyon NCDOT Board Member... Susan Spangler is also married to Tony Collin's partner at Collins and Galyon who was the past Chairman of the Zoning Commission till a few months ago"

Am I reading this right? I know that Jim Galyon is Doug Gaylon's son. Does this mean Susan Spangler is married to her brother?

triadwatch said...

no there is another partner in the name of Timothy J Spangler

triadwatch said...

jw, I changed it to look right and I think sound right after you pointed it out , I had it mixed up. Thanks

triadwatch said...

jw, does it sound right now?

triadwatch said...


jw said...

That reads much more clearly now. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to clarify it!

triadwatch said...

no thanks to you for pointing it out. I always want to be as accurate as I can.