It appears a member of Forsyth County’s planning board has had a change of heart after reportedly lobbying to lead the panel.
During its work session Tuesday night, the board discussed the bid by Joe Moses to become chairman.
The discussion began with board member Matt Murphy sharing how he had received a phone call from Moses about 15 minutes before the group’s work session last month.
The reason, Murphy said, was "to try and build consensus between me and [board member] Jim Kelleher — on the phone, before the meeting, out of the public view — to try and become the chairman of the planning commission."
Pam Livesay currently serves as the board’s chair.
Murphy also questioned whether the private conversations may somehow have violated the open meetings act.
Forsyth County Attorney Ken Jarrard, who attended the work session, said he was not prepared to give an opinion on the issue.
In the past year, the county government has grown more vigilant in its efforts to abide by open meetings laws as it has grappled with complaints regarding violations.
For his part, Moses acknowledged the conversations, but said he had changed his mind about pursuing the chairmanship.
The issue may have caught some in attendance off guard.
Appointment of board officers was not on the agenda for Tuesday night’s work session or last month’s meeting.
Also, it’s not listed as a topic of discussion for next week’s regular monthly meeting.
The matter does, however, come just a couple weeks after there was a change atop the Forsyth County commission, with Jim Boff replacing Brian Tam as chairman.
Planning board members are appointed by the county commission and make recommendations to it on zoning applications, among other duties.
Murphy added the item to the planning board’s agenda at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting. It was one of the first topics discussed.
"I will not now or ever do anything behind the scenes and stab anybody in the back, that’s not how I work," Murphy said.
He added that he didn’t attend the December session because of concern about the phone conversation.
Moses countered that he appreciated Murphy bringing the issue before the board and said that he had since changed his mind.
Moses said that prior to the work session he told Kelleher he no longer wanted to be chairman.
"I had already thought about it and I’d already made the decision that that was the wrong thing for me to do," Moses said.
"And if it puts you on the spot, then I apologize to you because I feel like it was the wrong thing for me to do, and I feel like that I’ve done my best to right that by coming in here and saying that."
Kelleher confirmed that Moses had told him he’d changed his mind.
Of the December conversation, Kelleher said Moses told him he had Murphy’s support.
According to Kelleher, he told Moses he didn’t think he was "ready to take the reins of such a position."
"I did not think it was proper at this time to even be bringing it up," Kelleher said. "I didn’t see a reason."
At the end of the talks Tuesday, Moses and Murphy shook hands and agreed to move on with the business of the board.
Earlier in the meeting, and after much discussion, the board agreed 4-1 to adopt bylaws with a revision date of Oct. 17, 2011. Moses dissented.
Members also discussed whether the planning board or department staff should make final decisions on requests for home occupation permits.
In addition, the board discussed zoning applications filed by John Barrett and METCAM and a request for a conditional use permit filed by Rusty Williams.