Council dismisses conflict charges in Bay Bulls

   Bay Bulls Mayor Patrick O'Driscoll had the RCMP evict a woman from the Town Hall this month after she tried to address council about her application for Crown Land during a public council meeting.
   Linda Furlong-Coles had contacted council before the meeting requesting permission to speak under council's delegation policy, but was turned down. After several warnings, and a demand that she apologize to council, O'Driscoll adjourned the meeting and asked the RCMP officer who was stationed near the door, to remove her from the chamber. The officer, along with two other Mounties who were called in, escorted Furlong-Coles from the building. Afterwards, the mayor returned to the chamber with an RCMP escort and called the session back to order.
   Furlong-Coles has been trying for months to get council to decide one way or the other on her application. Previous councils approved it twice before but she could not proceed because the area wasn't zoned for houses. After the new Town Plan came into effect last year, which changed the zoning, Furlong-Coles applied again. However, this time she found herself competing for the land with councillor Jason Sullivan who has applied for 34 hectares of Crown Land to build a 50 lot subdivision. Sullivan's swatch encompasses the acre that Furlong-Coles is seeking.
   After Furlong-Coles was evicted from the meeting, council voted on Sullivan's application to further rezone the area to allow half acre lots instead of the larger sizes required under the current zoning. But Mayor O'Driscoll wouldn't say whether the vote was an approval or not. The motion, which O'Driscoll made himself, was cryptically worded.
   Councillor Gerard Mulcahy suggested council defer a decision Furlong-Coles' application pending a legal opinion. It was seconded by Deputy Mayor Harold Mullowney, but couldn't get enough support to pass.
   "I'm not sure we should be spending taxpayers' money on an opinion," said councillor Rick Oxford.
   Mayor O'Driscoll observed that while a Crown Land applicant can reapply every year to keep an application current, "that wasn't the case (here)."
   Oxford, who is a real estate agent, argued against Furlong-Coles' bid.
"I'm just trying to get my head around as to why we need to go get a legal opinion when we've already approved action (for Sullivan) on the same parcel of land... Does anybody want to discuss that, or add to that?" Oxford asked. "Which is the most beneficial to the town? Council has a responsibility for positive, responsible growth to the Town of Bay Bulls and I'm not convinced that approving a one acre lot and gaining a tax base of a single family residence is to the town's benefit over a multiple family subdivision. That's just common sense reasoning when you look at the tax base."
   Oxford then moved to reject Furlong-Coles' application. After three calls from the chair, nobody would second it meaning her application was neither formally approved, nor rejected, but as good as rejected.
   Council then turned to Sullivan's application to rezone the land, with Sullivan, Oxford and councillor Joan Luby leaving the chamber citing conflict of interest.
   "I make a motion to follow the legal advice outlined by our legal and send a letter to the applicant," said Mayor O'Driscoll.
   "I'll second it," said councillor Mulcahy.
   The motion passed unanimously. Asked to clarify whether council had just approved the application or not, the mayor was unclear. "Council is not making a decision on whether to approve it or not, it's sending a letter with its opinions. That's the decision council is making on the request."
   Earlier in the meeting, meanwhile, council finally moved to address longstanding conflict of interest allegations against Sullivan, councillor Joan Luby, Deputy Mayor Mullowney and Oxford, voting to dismiss all the claims.
   Luby had been accused of being in a conflict of interest by Oxford's brother-in-law, developer Fraser Paul, who had complained that she voted on his application last spring which involved land adjacent to one of her family members. Sullivan had accused Mullowney of being in a conflict of interest after the Deputy Mayor had argued council should stand by its minimum lot sizes because of the boggy ground in the area that Sullivan wants to develop. The charge against Oxford was a new one that had not been disclosed prior to the meeting.

Posted on January 18, 2016 .