BRUNSWICK

Four months after it received widespread criticism for granting a forgivable loan to the spouse of one of its recent board members, Brunswick Development Corporation’s Board of Directors on Wednesday approved a series of amendments to its bylaws, including implementation of a code of ethics and a conflictof interests clause.

The amendments, worked out by board members William Morrell and Town Councilor John Richardson, received unanimous approval during a special meeting held to decide on the changes.

Other amendments include:

— One ex-officio position, previously held by town Finance Director John Eldridge, will be replaced with a seat to be occupied by a private citizen.

— Private citizens will be appointed to the board for a two-year term and can serve no more than three consecutive terms.

— Town Council representatives will serve only for one year and cannot exceed six consecutive terms.

— No telephonic attendance will be permitted; directors must appear at meetings in person.

— A one-year “cooling off ” period is required before a prior board member can return to apply for a grant or loan.

However, one change that was expected to be included in the revisions — but was not — relates to eligibility.

The amended bylaws state that direct family members or spouses of board members remain eligible to apply for BDC grants or loans. Although the related board member must notify the other directors of the potential conflict and recuse himor herself from discussion and voting on the issue, there remains no prohibition against application.

The loan which sparked the controversy involved former BDC director and Town Council chairwoman Joanne King whose husband, Dale King, owns Brunswick Taxi.

In August, BDC approved a low-interest and ultimately “forgivable” loan of $247,000 for King to buy new, more versatile and efficient vehicles and hire two new fulltime employees.

While the loan broke no laws, the appearance of exerted influence — and the resultant public outcry — was enough to convince the BDC’s board that a revision of its governance structure was needed.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Richardson congratulated his peers for “standing our ground” and apologized to departing director Joanne Favreau for the “criticism” surrounding the loan.

“I have not seen any unethical behavior (from the BDC),” Richardson said, and attributed the public outcry over the taxi company loan to “political and personal” vendettas.

“All those things that we have done, including the loan to Brunswick Taxi, have allowed this town to move forward … despite the business interruption caused by the (Brunswick Naval Air Station) closure,” he said.

Three separate votes were taken during a special meeting, held immediately after adjournment of the BDC’s regular business meeting, one each to decide on the code of ethics, conflicts of interest, and bylaw revisions.

Each vote was 6-0 in favor, carried by John Eldridge, Joanne Favreau, Chairwoman Larissa Darcy, Town Manager Gary Brown, Richardson and Town Council Chairwoman Suzan Wilson.

Favreau, whose term expires at the end of the month, said she was not interested in returning.

“It’s time for somebody else to step up and provide the board with their expertise,” she said.

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