On a night when she was absent, Eagle Town Board member Brandi Resa was a major discussion topic among her six fellow board members.The talk was launched when former town board member Roxie Deane addressed the board about a recent blog written and published by Resa, which questioned the propriety of Deane's appointment to the Eagle River Station Board of Directors.Nominal tracts of land — 10 percent of one-third of an acre each — of Eagle River Station property were conveyed to three area residents recently so the development could form its metropolitan district board of directors. With the conveyance, Roxie Deane, Terrill Knight and Chris Williams were qualified to join ERS property owners Vince and Cinda Riggio on the metro board.Eagle River Station is a commercial/residential project proposed by Trinity RED Development headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. The 88-acre site is located south of Interstate 70 and north of U.S. Highway 6 on the east end of Eagle. The ERS proposal will include 582,000 square feet of commercial space and 250 rental units in its first phase, along with the new east Eagle I-70 interchange and improvements to Highway 6 and Chambers Avenue. A second phase of the development calls for up to 150,000 square feet of additional commercial space and another 300 rental units. Last May, Eagle voters approved the plan during a special referendum, a flip-flop from a 2010 vote when voters rejected the plan. Resa was an outspoken opponent of the ERS proposal.Because the Eagle River Station Metropolitan District currently comprises vacant land, all of which is owned by a corporate entity, Trinity RED Eagle Development LLC (the developer), there are no individual residents or property owners to serve on the district's board of directors, noted Mary Jo Dougherty from the law firm of McGeady Sisneros, general counsel for the new metro district. The conveyance is the mechanism to qualify people to serve on the board.Debbie Braucht of Robertson & Marchetti in Edwards, a local firm that has been involved with many similar district issues concurred that the practice is common. “This is what you do when the developer owns all of the property (in a new metro district area). Without exception that is the common practice.” she said.While noting her disappointment that Resa was not present, Deane said she still wanted to address the issues raised by Resa in her blog. Deane said that her last meeting as a member of the Eagle Town Board was in April and she was not seated on the ERS metro board until Aug. 31.“You stated, that as a former board member who voted for the project twice, this looked like possible corruption, pay-offs or other shenanigans going on,” said Deane. “The blog was taken down after a few days but there was not a retraction or an apology so I felt this needed to be publicly addressed. There is nothing illegal or unethical about me being on the ERS board and for you to indicate that there is crosses the line and you need to stop.”Deane said she will receive no benefits or compensation for her service on the ERS Board. “I will take my duties on the ERS board seriously and I will always put Eagle first.”
Along with her statements regarding the ERS board issue, Deane noted that Resa has “previously criticized and questioned, without merit, the town planner, town engineer, town manager and most recently the town financial officer, Marilene Miller. You have questioned her ability to put together a budget, had negative comments about the audit process and even had a link on your blog referring to a town clerk that embezzled money in a small town in Illinois. For 37 years, Marilene has put together Eagle's budget and worked with several different auditors and town trustees, and her integrity had never been in question. How insulting,” said Deane.“I do recognize that Brandi is the most inexperienced member of the board and I would expect some questions and concerns while trying to understand the process and workings of Eagle town government,” said Deane. “However, I do not believe that is her intention. Most of her inquiries have a very negative tone as though she is trying to catch someone doing something wrong so she can say, ‘Gotcha!'”“I won't make any bones about it. I am appalled by Brandi's behavior and what she has written,” said Eagle Town Board member Scott Turnipseed. “If there is one person in Eagle who we would want on the ERS board to watch out for the town, it would be Roxie Deane.”“It is appalling and we are troubled by it,” said Town Board member Anne McKibben.“I think we are trying to set a positive tone as a board. It's unfortunate that something like this can hinder things,” said Mayor Yuri Kostick
After they had dispensed with the other business of the evening, town board members returned to discussions regarding Resa. McKibben suggested the board write and adopt an official code of conduct that would address issues such as members' public verbal and written statements and levy consequences if behavior violated the rules. In particular, she noted the code could address written statements that demean or defame other board members, staff or members of the public. “This is more a way to try to keep us moving in a positive direction,” said McKibben “And it will not do us any good to have a code of conduct if there are no consequences to it.”Member Scot Webster voiced reservations about adopting a formal code. “I don't think it is needed because there are six of us following a moral compass, and one who is not,” he said. Webster said Resa's blogging is counterproductive for Eagle's efforts to move forward. “She is not disseminating information. She is causing havoc.”Webster said the solution would be to have all written communications come from the board as a whole and for Resa to stop her individual blogging. Other members argued Resa has First Amendment rights to continue her writing, but the town needs outline conduct rules that spell out what constitutes impropriety when it comes to individual blogging.Members who supported the conduct rules said a code adoption would provide structure to address concerns. “How do we move this town forward in a positive manner? I think its unfortunate that we have to write a code of conduct and try to enforce it,” said Turnipseed.“I want to move on and get off this topic,” said Kostick. “But I think the most recent blog has brought up issues we have to deal with.”McKibben agreed to work toward fashioning some rules for the board to consider for adoption.