A property owner is applying to rezone over 100 acres of property that is primarily agricultural with a tiny portion being residential. Many years ago the property was farm land with crops and cattle, but is presently unused. Most of the area, except for this tract of land, is now residential or commercial. Some of the property is split by the Interstate and would be very suitable to commercial development. The owner needs to get zoning passed to complete a much-needed sale of the land that is under contract for a reasonable price.
A member of the board of commissioners lives behind the property described above and has objected to any development of that land (residential or commercial). Previously, he offered to purchase the land at less than 25 percent of the value of the present sales contract.
A second commissioner has a "relationship" with a land developer that indicated interest in the property, but again, at below market value.
The commissioners have the power to vote against proposed zoning, even after it has been approved by the local planning and zoning committee, and that would stop the zoning approval. The owners, who desperately need a fair-market sale now, would not be allowed to apply for zoning again for a year.
1) Does a commissioner's personal interest represent a conflict of interest? Can he be blocked from voting?
2) Can the county legally tell an owner he cannot do any development (no residential, no commerical) while development goes on elsewhere in the area?
3) As a last resort, since it is zoned as agricultural, could the owner lease the property for other uses, such as stables for horses or raising cattle? No livestock has been on the property since approximately the 1970s. Perhaps that option might sway some objectors to see residential housing or a shopping center as a better alternative.
Thanks for your help.