May 25, 2021 Camden County Commissioner’s Meeting at 10:00 a.m.

Commissioners Gohagan and Hasty were present. This is a summary of the meeting.

There were at least 20 people in the audience so I had a pretty good idea that they might be there for the first agenda item.

The first agenda item was the Purvis View Vacation Decision. This sounds like a fun item but we’re talking about a different kind of vacation.

I’m not a real estate attorney but this is my general, simple-minded understanding of the situation regarding this matter. There is a group of homeowners who live in Purvis View who have easements that allow them access to the lakefront and the potential to build a road to access their properties. A different property owner is seeking to vacate those easements. There has been civil litigation regarding this dispute. The civil court referred this matter back to the Commission for a decision.

Many of the homeowners were in the audience. One of the homeowners has retained an attorney who was present. She stated several times to her neighbors who were present that the attorney was not just representing her interests, but also the interests of her neighbors.

Attorney Greg Williams was present and representing the opposing property owner.

Both attorneys had submitted proposed orders to the Commission prior to the meeting. Charles McElyea, the legal advisor to the Commission, had drafted a final decision for the Commission. Commissioner Gohagan stated he had not seen the proposed decision yet. The commissioners reviewed the proposed decision with McElyea.

Gail Griswold asked Commissioner Hasty why he didn’t recuse himself from voting on a matter involving Attorney Greg Williams when he has been represented on other matters by attorneys from Williams’ law firm.

The homeowners in the audience spoke up and said they had not seen the proposed final decision. One gentleman said they wanted to have an opportunity to speak to the commission but he wanted a chance to see the proposed final decision first to know if he would be for or against it. Neither attorney had seen the proposed final decision. At this point, the Commission allowed the attorneys and the members of the audience to come up to the commission table and review the final decision. After everyone was done reviewing it, they returned to their seats.

I believe it was Commissioner Hasty who then read the summary of the decision which denied the vacation of the easements for reasons that included the facts that vacating the easements would deny the second tier homes access to the Lake of the Ozarks and limit potential access to the properties through future road construction.

The decision passed 2-0. It was interesting that these properties are in Commissioner Williams’ district but he was not present for the vote. I heard several of the homeowners complaining that their commissioner was not present for the meeting.

The second agenda item was a Certified Copy of Order for approximately $3,700 in legal fees. This passed unanimously.

The third agenda item was for Budget Amendments. These last two items were difficult for me to hear because the happy homeowners were quietly celebrating amongst themselves and the Auditor approached the commissioners and explained the amendments face to face with them. It sounded like it was $8,717 transferred to LEST and $66,000 transferred from the Clerk to LEST. These amendments were approved.

The meeting was then adjourned.

And that was that.

My opinion:

The Auditor does a good job of explaining items but he should still clearly state the items and their amounts from the podium so we can all hear it. He probably went forward because there was some talking going on in the audience after the Purvis decision but it does make it a less public discussion of public business when only the commissioners can hear him.

This Purvis View issue has been a dispute that has stretched on for quite a few years so I can only assume that Commissioner Williams had a great reason for not being present to vote on its resolution. His constituents were not happy that he wasn’t there for the decision.

It felt like everyone was surprised that Commissioner Hasty voted in favor of the final decision but it just goes to show that you never know what’s going to happen at these meetings.

This was a great example of how local government can review and discuss matters with the public. The initial confusion over the decision was satisfied when the commissioners informally allowed the parties to come up and read over the decision with them. I’d like to see more of this and with the smaller size of our government, it was nice to see the discussion publicly and informally involve both the constituents and commissioners with a personal touch.

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