Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 14, 2017

TX AG Notes that Members of Historic Landmark Commission Who Lived in the Historic District May Have a Substantial Interest in Property in the District and Should Refrain from Voting Where a Decision Could Have a Special Economic Effect on Their Property Value

The City of Beaumont created a historic cultural landmark preservation district and a Historic Landmark (“HL”) Commission was created to “approve or recommend action on buildings and structures within the district.” At a Planning and Zoning (“P&Z) Commission hearing regarding a permit for an office building in this historic district, at least two members of that Commission also lived in that district. Furthermore, a city employee who prepared staff reports for both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the HL Commission lived in the historic district. The Chair of the Committee on Land and Resource Management, asked the Texas Attorney General whether these Commissioners and the staff person who reside in the historic district may vote on matters that affect that district.

First, Attorney General noted that P&Z Commissioners and HL Commissioners are local public officials because they have more than an advisory role. However, based on previous Office of the Attorney General Opinion Letters, a city employee who prepares staff reports is not considered to be a local public official for the purpose of the conflict of interest statute.

Second, the Attorney General noted that under Texas law, only local public officials who have a substantial property interest shall file an affidavit reporting their interest before they vote on a matter. With respect to real property, such a substantial interest is real property valued at $2,500 or more.

Third, the Attorney General opined that that local public officials must abstain from a vote when it is reasonably foreseeable that voting for or against a particular action will have a special economic effect on the value of the local public officials’ property.

 Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. KP-0105 (2016)

 


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