Bidding Strategy Illustrated
Mike Maxey, candidate for Post 4 County Commissioner in the upcoming July 15 Oconee County primary election, is a man of his word.
At the June 2 Candidate Forum organized by citizens and held at the Oconee County Library in Watkinsville, Maxey said he would gladly do business with companies that come before the Board of Commissioners should he get elected–after he has voted to approve their rezoning projects.
If, "three months" after approving a project, Maxey said, "a project manager, ...a general contractor, whatever the case may be, comes to me and asks me to put a bid on a project...I’m going to submit the bid."
Maxey is president of M&P Grading Contractors Inc., headquartered here in Oconee County, and he also is a member of the Oconee County Planning Commission.
On March 19, 2007, Glades Commercial Properties LLC came before the Planning Commission with a request to rezone 7 acres of land on Daniells Bridge Road near the Oconee Connector in preparation for building a hotel and conference center on the site.
Four citizens from nearby Settler’s Ridge subdivision spoke in opposition on the grounds the hotel would create too much traffic for Daniells Bridge Road.
The Planning Commission voted 7-2 to approve the rezone. Mike Maxey, according to the minutes, voted with the majority.
On April 3, 2007, the rezone, with the recommendation of the Planning Commission, was before the Board of Commissioners for final action.
Chairman Melvin Davis recused himself, because Larry Benson, builder of the hotel, has been a long-time supporter of Davis. The Board, in Davis’ absence, approved the rezone unanimously.
In May of this year, grading work on the site began in earnest. Trucks labeled M&P Contractors adorned the site.
When Maxey landed the contract for the grading isn’t public record, of course, but, given Maxey’s statement on June 2 that he has never voted on any zoning request before the Planning Commission in which he had a vested interest, Maxey must have landed the deal after he voted to approve the rezone.
"In not one instance, since I have been on the Planning Commission, have I voted on a project that I knew, at the time it was presented to the Planning Commission, that I was involved in. Not a single time. Not even not one," Maxey said at the June 2 forum.
Had the Board of Commissioners--on which Maxey is seeking a seat--not approved the rezone, however, Maxey could not have gotten the job. So Maxey as a Commissioner would have a strong incentive to rezone property for which he might get work.
Maxey has made no secret that he originally planned to run against Chairman Melvin Davis, rather than against incumbent Post 4 Commissioner Chuck Horton. Maxey said at the June 2 forum he decided he wasn’t ready yet for the chairman position.
Horton has been Davis’ most outspoken critic on the current Board of Commissioners, so the switch from a challenger of Davis to a challenger of the critic of Davis’ was interesting.
Even if Larry Benson’s contract had no influence on Maxey’s decision not to challenge Davis, neither Davis nor Benson is likely to have been very upset about the coincidence.