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Pastor's complaint against commissioner reaches court
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Forsyth County News
A retired pastor will represent herself Wednesday in a hearing against the chairman of the Forsyth County board of commissioners.

Jo Ann Leifeste filed a complaint against Charles Laughinghouse in April following a contentious retail rezoning of some 3 acres on Castleberry Road.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard will represent Laughinghouse, who said he will not be able to attend the hearing because of a scheduling conflict with commission duties.

Laughinghouse declined to comment on the matter, referring all questions to Jarrard.

"It is the county's position that everything was done in conformance with the law," Jarrad said of the zoning in question.

In order to appeal the commission's 3-2 decision from April 14, Leifeste filed a Writ of Certiorari, which she said was necessary to appeal a commission vote.

"I hope that no matter what the outcome is this will be an encouragement to other people to stand up to the law," Leifeste said.

The hearing is scheduled for 9 this morning in Courtroom 1 of the Forsyth County Courthouse, with Judge David Dickinson presiding.

Leifeste brought a complaint against Laughinghouse to the county ethics board shortly after the April 14 decision, but the board voted 5-0 to dismiss it.

At that time, she contended that Laughinghouse's behavior had been unethical.

She claimed e-mails between Laughinghouse and developer Sal Migliore impled the two were working together to get the Castleberry zoning approved.

The board, however, disagreed, noting that it is not uncommon for commissioners to have discussions with developers about pending proposals.

Leifeste, who led the charge against the Castleberry zoning proposal, cited traffic, safety and other concerns in her opposition to the developer's plans.

In February, the commission voted 3-2 to deny the developer's rezoning request. That vote, however, was rescinded in March after Commissioner Linda Ledbetter changed her mind.

The issue returned before the commission in April, when it was approved 3-2, this time with Laughinghouse, Ledbetter and Commissioner Jim Harrell supporting it.