A Milledgeville woman has filed an "ethics complaint" against Mayor Gary Thrower after he granted "special use" to two properties on Washington Street to be sorority houses.
The problem? Thrower owns property in the same vicinity.
Monday night, the City of Milledgeville ethics committee held a hearing to listen to the complaint from city resident, Virginia Knapp.
On January 10th, Milledgeville Mayor, Gary Thrower, cast a "tie-breaking" vote allowing the properties located at 230 and 240 West Washington Street to become "group residences" for sororities.
"Mayor Thrower failed to disclose in writing or otherwise during the city council meeting that he personally owns property in the area affected by his deciding vote," says Knapp.
Mayor Thrower owns a duplex-style home on the corner of West Washington and South Wilkinson Street that he rents out to college students.
Knapp says she finds it unethical that the mayor voted on a piece of legislation that would ultimately affect his own property.
"It would be beneficial with city taxes, property value is going to go up based on purchase prices and things like that, more rental income potential," says Knapp.
At Monday night's hearing, Mayor Thrower's lawyer, John Underwood explained that his client wasn't violating the city's ethics code.
"Mayor Thrower's property was not the subject of the zoning matter and therefore was not directly affected by this zoning issue," says Underwood.
Underwood explained that Milledgeville city ordinances say officials must only disclose information when they have "substantial interest," and Thrower's "tie-breaking vote" did not directly impact his own property.
"This property is no more affected by this decision whether it increases the value of property or decreases it, anymore than anyone else in that neighborhood," says Underwood.
Thrower says he respects Knapp's right to make a case, but insists he did nothing wrong and there was no ill-intent.
The ethics committee plans to hold another hearing and make a decision on whether Thrower is in violation of a conflict of interest within the next month.
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