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The list of items that a state conducted audit will look at is growing by the day.
After reviewing Missouri statutes, The Daily News believes Richmond Mayor Lance Green has put himself at odds with Missouri Ethics laws that prohibit elected officials from participating in rezoning votes that they may financially gain from.
Green presided over every meeting and vote concerning the issue, and served as the city’s primary liaison between the city and its lawyer and the lawyer from Sonic. Green was visibly seen yesterday and Wednesday operating a bulldozer working at the Sonic site at Main Street and Highway 13. Futhermore, dump trucks from Green’s company, JLG Trucking, were seen hauling off dirt.
The Daily News cites Missouri statute 105.462 that reads as follows:
“No member of any agency of the state or any political subdivision thereof who is empowered to adopt a rule or regulation, other than rules and regulations governing the internal affairs of the agency, or who is empowered to fix any rate, adopt zoning or land use planning regulations or plans, or who participates in or votes on the adoption of any such rule, regulation, rate or plan shall:
“Attempt to influence the decision or participate, directly or indirectly, in the decision of the agency in which he or she is a member when he or she knows the result of such decision may be the adoption of rates or zoning plans by the agency which may result in a direct financial gain or loss to him or her, to his or her spouse or a dependent child in his or her custody or to any business with which he or she is associated.”
The rezoning of the Sonic property raised questions from the beginning. An initial public hearing held by the Planning and Zoning Board seemed like a formality when the measure passed with no resistance or discussion, despite multiple pleas from nearby residents.
Residents argued that it would cause traffic problems, increase noise and trash and devalue their property. Additionally lawyer Alan Lacy argued that spot zoning was illegal. No site plans were or have been presented to the Planning and Zoning Board as well.
Residents again pled their arguments with the Richmond City Council, and the measure failed because it could not get enough votes to pass.
A second attempt sailed through the Planning and Zoning Board on Oct. 7, one night before the council unanimously passed the measure – just one month after the measure previously failed.
Councilwoman Beverly Gorham cited research she had done that said spot zoning is highly discouraged and expressed an opinion against the rezoning before voting yes.
Green didn’t vote on the issue but did participate indirectly by leading the vote, and directly by being involved in discussions concerning the vote.
The Missouri Ethics Commission is also investigating Green for a city hall landscaping contract that was awarded to Amy Dorton. Public court documents obtained by The Daily News list Green’s address as the same as Dorton’s with her name written in above the address.
The Daily News has also learned that Dorton’s father, John Dorton, is the primary builder for the new Sonic.
Dorton operates a business that builds Sonics across the midwest.
Green did not return phone messages left by The Daily News.
The Daily News filed an open records request this morning for the minutes to the portions of closed sessions that discussed the rezoing issue and the e-mail records of Green. The newspaper contends that under Missouri Sunshine Law, records from any closed sessions that discussed the Sonic issue should be released.
The state of Missouri is currently conducting a separate, ongoing investigation concerning the release of minutes from closed sessions that discussed the rezoning of residential land on the northwest corner of Main and Highway 13, across from the new Sonic location. Lafayette County Prosecutor Paige Bellamy has been appointed special prosecutor in the case.
Photo: Richmond Mayor Lance Green operates a bulldozer next to one of his company’s dump trucks Thursday afternoon on the northeast corner of Main Street and Highway 13. Green’s company is clearing the land for the construction of Sonic. (Photo by Dennis Sharkey/The Daily News)