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Request filed to investigate Planning chair for conflict of interest

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 by Joseph Caterine

The Austin Monitor obtained a copy of an email sent the morning of March 27 formally requesting that Travis County and the city of Austin investigate Stephen Oliver for a possible conflict of interest between his professional work as an architect and his review of CodeNEXT as the Planning Commission chair. The email, signed by Bill Aleshire, Bill Bunch, Mike Hebert and Fred Lewis, alleges that Oliver has used his position in the Planning Commission to influence the CodeNEXT draft’s regulation of breweries, a business that his firm, OPA Design Studio Inc., specializes in designing. Oliver’s failure to recuse himself from discussions involving breweries, the email concludes, is a violation of Texas Local Government Code Chapter 171 as well as Austin City Code, section 2-7-63. “We ask the City Council to remove Oliver from the Planning Commission,” the email states. In a written response given to the Monitor, Oliver said: “When expertise was of value in conversations related to code, market factors, or the development process, I have offered my opinion. In matters related to recommendations specific to breweries, distilleries, wineries, and their respective code and mapping, I will continue my practice of appropriately recusing myself from any related votes.”

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