State Ethics Commission finds City could have conflict of interest 

 From staff reports 

City of Beaufort Department of Community and Economic Development Director David Prichard must recuse himself from any decisions related to any proposed projects involving 303 Associates, according to an opinion issued Jan. 4 by the State Ethics Commission. 

On Dec. 30, City of Beaufort Attorney William Harvey requested an informal opinion from the State Ethics Commission as to whether there was a potential conflict of interest for the City when considering development projects from 303 Associates. 

Prichard’s Department of Community and Economic Development considers all new projects in the City of Beaufort. His wife works for 303 Associates, although not in a position that is affiliated with the development side of the business. 

The State Ethics Commission staff released an informal opinion on Jan. 4 that Prichard should recuse himself on any matters involving 303 Associates. 

“Mrs. Prichard’s job duties or title at 303 Associates is immaterial,” the letter from Ethics Commission Counsel Courtney Laster said. 

To alleviate any perception of conflict of interest, the architects contracted by the City to write staff reports on projects that come before the city’s design boards will report directly to City Manager Bill Prokop on any project from 303 Associates. This will begin immediately.

“Transparency is important to us, which is why we asked for the opinion,” City Manager Bill Prokop said in a release. “We will make this change to ensure that there is no conflict.”

Currently, 303 Associates has several projects before the City’s Historic Design Review Board. The staff architect reviews all such proposals that come before that board, and makes recommendations for changes as projects make their way through the process. The architect also recommends approval or disapproval for these projects, but that decision ultimately is up to the citizen board.

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