Before I write another word, let me say this: I respect the passion and commitment of the residents of southern Platte County who are opposed to the proposed Chapel Ridge housing development. After talking to several of them in recent days, there is no doubt that they believe in their cause. And there’s also no doubt they are willing to fight for that cause. Now, let’s talk. A rezoning request made by the developer of the proposed controversial Chapel Ridge subdivision near Parkville was approved by the Platte County Commission Monday afternoon. Well ..... sort of. Second District Commissioner Duane Soper recused himself from the proceedings a few months ago, citing his connection to a local bank that does business with the developer as a conflict of interest. It was the right thing to do as Soper sits on the Board of the afore-mentioned bank and therefore has input into private sector decisions made concerning the development. That left First District Commissioner Beverlee Roper and Presiding Commissioner Jason Brown to decide Chapel Ridge’s fate. As detailed in our front page story, Roper voted no and Brown voted yes. While this appears to be a 1-1 tie, it isn’t. State law says that because of Soper’s absence during the vote, Brown’s vote as presiding commissioner counts as two. So, it passed 2-1. This basically paves the way for the project to move forward once the developers submit a plat meeting 12 conditions set forth by the Commission, while at the same time making many residents in that area very unhappy. Of course, anything other than absolute, unconditional denial of the proposal by the Commission would also have resulted in these folks being angry. They were angry before the ruling and have been angry about the proposed 350-plus-homes-on-143-acres development for months. Mostly, though, they are now very angry with Brown. They are angry that he cast the deciding vote in favor of the proposal, thereby ignoring the Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation to deny it not once, but twice — and unanimously both times, I might add. Like I have said before, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but that makes me a bit perturbed — why would the good folks on that P&Z Board, who are appointed not elected, reject it twice if it’s OK? Of course, if you ponder that, then why would Platte County Planning and Zoning Director Daniel Erickson recommend Chapel Ridge’s approval not once but twice if there was so much wrong with it? Maybe we will get into all that another day — but right now, back to the anger. What the opponents of Chapel Ridge are really, really angry about is that they think Brown’s vote was bought. They think that his past association with such big-time construction companies as JE Dunn and the startling amount of campaign contributions made to him in the past by developers and individuals in the banking industry prove that he is in the pocket of said folks. And they have no problem voicing that belief, especially online at southplattecountyvoice.blogspot.com. The letter writer below certainly thinks that’s the case. I’ve seen Brown’s campaign contribution reports and I can understand the connection being drawn and why these folks would make that assumption and why they would be angry about it. This sort of thing comes up every time a politician makes a decision that 1) a lot of people don’t agree with; and 2) may seem to financially or politically benefit said official. For the sake of argument, let’s say that I believe that Brown’s vote was compromised. What does that mean? Nothing. As Tom Cruise once said in the movie “A Few Good Men,” — it’s not what I believe, it’s what I can prove. So, that would be my advice to all the southern Platte County residents who are furious that Brown opened the door for Chapel Ridge to walk through — it’s one thing to call the man corrupt, but can you back it up with the proverbial smoking gun? I talked with Brown this week and asked him why he voted the way he did. He basically said that he felt that all conditions and requirements had been met by the developer and who was the government to tell these folks they couldn’t develop their land the way they wanted? I asked him about the Platte County Land Use Plan approved in March 2010. “The Land Use Plan is just one tool of many; it’s a guideline that’s already four years old,” he said. “Perhaps that document needs to be looked at again.” I asked him whether he thought it looked fishy that he had so many campaign contributions from developers and bankers, and then sided with them. “I have raised money for 12 years from many contributors in Platte County and across the state,” he said. “Folks want me to explain that. Here’s the explanation -—you don’t buy Jason Brown. I have never traded votes for favors or money and I never will. Period.” So there you have it. Perhaps Brown really believes that Chapel Ridge is a viable proposal and hey, just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean those folks don’t have the right to build it. Perhaps. At any rate, I imagine we will get to talk about all of this again when the residents in opposition take their case to court. If they’ve got a smoking gun, they should save it until then. Thanks for reading.