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Ethics panel clears Snook

December 02, 1998|By SCOTT BUTKI

Washington County Commissioner Gregory I. Snook did nothing inappropriate when he voted Nov. 17 on the rezoning of Hickory Corner Inc., the Washington County Ethics Commission has ruled.

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Ethics commission Chairman Omer T. Kaylor Jr., a Hagerstown lawyer, released the written opinion on the issue Tuesday. The ethics panel discussed the matter at a Nov. 23 meeting.

Snook's daughter, Mary, 18, worked for Hickory Corner from about November 1997 to May 1998, Snook said.

Her last paycheck was for the period ending May 16, about six months before Snook cast his vote, the opinion said.

"Therefore, there is not even a hint of a prohibited conflict of interest," Kaylor wrote in the opinion.

Snook cast the tie-breaking vote to approve the rezoning of Hickory Corner from residential suburban to business local. The .64 acre property is at the northeast corner of Virginia Avenue and Hickory School Road.

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"As I stated in the beginning, I didn't think there was any conflict," Snook said Tuesday.

Each county commissioner must decide when a vote might constitute a conflict of interest and abstain from voting in such a case, he said.

Snook said he voted in this case because he did not see how it could pose a conflict of interest. As president of the County Commissioners, Snook votes only to break a tie.

Even if his daughter had been working for the company at the time of the vote, it is "unlikely" the situation would have constituted a conflict of interest, Kaylor's opinion said.

"The wage was fixed before the filing of the application. There is no indication of any connection between the rezoning and the amount of compensation.

"Thus, there is no indication of a 'direct financial impact' ... by reason of the rezoning" on Snook's daughter, Kaylor wrote.

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