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Hearing appears unlikely for official
Citing lawsuit, board delays matter till 2011
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Forsyth County News

The allegations against a Forsyth County planning board official most likely won't be heard until he's out of office, if ever.

On Tuesday, the county commission voted 3-2, with Commissioners Patrick Bell and Brian Tam opposed, to postpone the matter on Brant Meadows until Jan. 6.

By that time, there will be a new District 1 county commissioner, who could appoint someone other than Meadows to the corresponding planning board post.

District 1 incumbent Charles Laughinghouse, who did not seek re-election, will be succeeded by either Democrat Mary Chatfield or Republican Pete Amos, who defeated Meadows in the July commission primary.

Laughinghouse, who chairs the commission, made the motion to postpone the matter.

"Mr. Bell, we're not going to use this as a forum to crucify someone in order to try to protect someone else," he said.

Bell had asked the commission in August if it would consider holding a hearing to "get to the bottom" of complaints from three county employees about discussions with Meadows.

Commissioners, just three of whom were at last month's meeting, decided to wait and take a vote when all five of them could be present.

Meadows, who did not attend Tuesday's meeting, has previously denied the allegations.

Recently fired planning director Jeff Chance noted his complaint against Meadows in a lawsuit against the county.

The suit alleges that Meadows threatened to "destroy" Chance when the two disagreed on a planning issue.

The suit maintains that when Chance brought forth information about Meadows' alleged threats, he was met with an investigation into his management practices and computer use.

That investigation found 12 violations of county policies, including sending and receiving personal and inappropriate e-mails at work.

Citing the report, the commission voted 3-1 to fire Chance in late August. Bell opposed the measure and Tam was absent.

Bell said Tuesday that Meadows also faces written complaints from two other county employees.

"He should have the opportunity to clear his name or not," Bell told his colleagues. "You're trying to protect somebody who has, I think, done wrong, and you don't want to address it."

Commissioner Jim Harrell felt the lawsuit would give Meadows his opportunity to discuss his account of events.

"It will be cleared or not in the court case," Harrell said. "That's a big part of it. It involves his word against Jeff's word."

Laughinghouse also noted that a July letter to Meadows addressed any potential issues by directing him to bring county matters to senior staff.

"To the best of my knowledge, that has been fulfilled," Laughinghouse said.