Reasons for recusing - Black Diamond City Councilman Bill Boston | YarrowBay's The Villages and Lawson Hills hearing

Black Diamond City Councilman Bill Boston provided more information during a phone interview today, June 24, concerning his decision to recuse himself from the hearings for two master planned developments, The Villages and Lawson Hills.

Boston stepped away from the proceedings Wednesday, June 23, at the opening of the hearing.

The City Council is considering the permit application for the YarrowBay master planned developments.

Tuesday, Councilwoman Leih Mulvihill and Councilwoman Kristine Hanson recused themselves from the hearings.

Once Boston made his decision Wednesday, the proceedings were left without a quorum and the hearing was adjourned until 7 p.m. tonight at Black Diamond Elementary School.

According to city officials, because a quorum does not exist, all the council members can return to the hearing if they choose.

Boston made it clear during the interview he did not recuse himself to force a situation where all the council members could return.

"I knew people were going to say that," Boston said. "That YarrowBay had gotten to me. That was not it and you can ask my wonderful wife. I value my integrity and I feel sad people have to think like that, but I understand."

Boston said his decision to recuse himself began when YarrowBay attorney Nancy Rogers challenged his ability to be impartial during appearance of fairness inquiries at the Tuesday hearing.

Rogers had stated YarrowBay was challenging Boston's ability to be fair because he was a member of the Lake Sawyer Community Club. According to Rogers, the club provided $5,000 to a fund to challenge the development.

At the Tuesday meeting Boston said he had ended his membership in the club at the end of 2009 and he would stay with the proceedings.

But that night, Boston said he went home and read the case Rogers cited, Save v. Bothell, and the Lake Sawyer bylaws.

Part of the Save v. Bothell decision involved two members of a planning commission who were found to be in violation of the appearance of fairness. One woman, referred to as Ms. Dawson, was a paid executive director of the Bothell Chamber of Commerce and the other, Ms. Lovelace, was a member of the chamber board. The ruling stated the women's association with the chamber violated the appearance of fairness in a quasi-judicial setting when the planning commission considered rezoning an area for a shopping center.

In the ruling it is written, "The rule does not prohibit membership in community organizations; it prohibits participation in at least quasi-judicial proceedings when such membership demonstrates the existence of an interest which might substantially influence the individual's judgment."

Boston said, "I went back and read the (Save v. Bothell) decision. I was in a quasi-judicial position when I was a member of the Lake Sawyer Community Club."

Boston said he did not "know where that $5,000 went. I've heard it was for water studies, but water studies for what? I had doubts and I'm trying to take the most prudent approach."

Lake Sawyer Community Club president Joe May said during a phone interview the club met in February for an annual meeting.

"The members voted overwhelmingly to provide the Diamond Coalition with the $5,000," May said. "The money was to be earmarked for a water quality expert."

May said the members wanted to know what the water quality of the lake is currently and what it would be in the future.

"Basically to assess what we would have to get in mitigation from The Villages and Lawson Hills," May said. "The people that live on the lake are interested in the quality of the lake."

Boston said he lives on Lake Sawyer and knows how important the storm water issue is to the lake.

"I have a real interest in this lake staying clean," Boston said.

Although Boston ended his membership in December 2009, the councilman stated he was in a quasi-judicial role as early as May 2009 with the two master planned developments.

"I hated to recuse myself because it gives an aura that I couldn't be impartial," Boston said. "I said I would not have any trouble making an impartial decision. I have to go with what I feel, and I have to be true to myself."

All five council members attended the hearing Thursday. With a quorum present, the proceedings continued.

The staff and YarrowBay representatives made presentations and the council members asked a series of questions.

The next hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 28, Monday, at the Black Diamond Elementary School.

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