CEO 86-44 -- June 19, 1986
VOTING CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COUNCIL MEMBER VOTING ON SITE PLAN FOR SHOPPING CENTER ADJACENT TO HIS PROPERTY
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
A city council member is not prohibited from voting by Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes, on a site plan for a shopping center to be located adjacent to the florist store which he owns and operates, where any parking spaces or land lost because of the nature of the final plan would be replaced and where any impact the proposed mall would have on the florist business in the future is remote and speculative. CEO's 85-77 and 85-87 are referenced.
Are you, a city council member, prohibited from voting by Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes, on a site plan for a shopping center to be located adjacent to the florist store which you own and operate?
Your question is answered in the negative, under the circumstances presented.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you serve as a member of the Plantation City Council. You also advise that you and your wife own a building in the city from which you operate a retail florist shop. A mall is being proposed for construction on property which is located adjacent to your store and which has been zoned for commercial use for a number of years. The developers propose to reroute the access road on the street which runs in front of your store and to add an entrance to the mall next to the store.
You further advise that the City Council is required to vote on the site plan for the shopping center. Site plan approval includes such matters as parking, ingress, egress, landscaping, and the general aesthetics of the site. Finally, you advise that it is debatable whether this commercial development will hurt or help your florist business.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
No county, municipal, or other local public officer shall vote in his official capacity upon any measure which inures to his special private gain or shall knowingly vote in his official capacity upon any measure which inures to the special gain of any principal, other than an agency as defined in s. 112.312(2), by whom he is retained. Such public officer shall, prior to the vote being taken, publicly state to the assembly the nature of his interest in the matter from which he is abstaining from voting and, within 15 days after the vote occurs, disclose the nature of his interest as a public record in a memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting, who shall incorporate the memorandum in the minutes. However, a commissioner of a community redevelopment agency created or designated pursuant to s. 163.356 or s. 163.357 or an officer of an independent special tax district elected on a one- acre, one-vote basis is not prohibited from voting. [Section 112.3143(3), Florida Statutes (1985).]
This provision requires you to abstain from voting on any measure which would inure to your special private gain.
We previously have recognized that any gain or loss to a public officer resulting from a particular measure may be too remote or speculative to constitute "special gain." Thus, in CEO 85-77 we found that a school board member who owned a retail clothing business near the site of a proposed school district administrative complex was not prohibited from voting on matters relating to the use of the school district's property. For similar reasons, in CEO 85-87 we concluded that a city council member who was a vice president of a bank was not prohibited from voting on the sale and redevelopment of property located one block from the main office of the bank.
Here, the proposed plan would leave the status quo insofar as your property is concerned. In addition, under the circumstances you have presented we conclude that any impact the proposed mall would have on your florist business in the future is too remote and speculative to constitute "special gain."
Accordingly, we find that you are not prohibited by Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes, from voting on the site plan of the proposed shopping center.