A political flap over the residency of State Sen. Roger Pine has now spilled over to his wife's previous service on the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission.
Questions have now arisen over whether Sue Pine was improperly allowed to serve on the Planning Commission from May of 2000 to January of 2004.
Roger Pine has acknowledged that he began living in Leavenworth County in 1999, despite keeping Lawrence as his political address and voting in Douglas County elections.
Sue Pine on Thursday said she also began living in Leavenworth County in 1999, but she amended previous comments made by her husband. She said after reviewing some records, it is more accurate to say that they began living part time in Leavenworth County in 1999. She said she and Roger spent much of planting and harvest season at their longtime farm home north of Lawrence.
"We were living half here and half there," Sue Pine said. "We gradually started spending more time here (Leavenworth County)."
Sue Pine said she does not believe she did anything wrong by serving on the Planning Commission, which by law requires its members to live within the county. The couple have said they were not attempting to mislead anyone.
She said she consulted with the family's personal attorney, who advised her that she was free to serve on the board, which is an unpaid position. But she said she did not notify county or city leaders that she was living at least partially in Leavenworth County.
The appointment was made by former Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Taul. County Administrator Craig Weinaug said he can see how the issue was overlooked, given that the Pine family has had a deep history in Douglas County.
But Weinaug said the county may start confirming the addresses of appointees to various boards.
"It wouldn't occur to us to double-check residency, but we probably should in the future," Weinaug said.
Toni Wheeler - who as the city's director of legal services provides legal advice to the Planning Commission - said if the city had been aware of the residency question it would have discussed it with county leaders and taken appropriate action.
But now, Wheeler said the issue likely is moot. She said the statute of limitations to appeal any decision made by the planning commission would have expired years ago.
The Planning Commission largely is an advisory board by nature. During the time period that Pine was on the commission, it did have the authority to give final approval to final plats and final development plans of projects.
But the Planning Commission during Pine's tenure did make many close recommendations to city and county commissioners on controversial projects.
Wheeler said the city did not have any plans to review the past votes of the Planning Commission to determine how many times Pine's vote may have been the deciding vote on an issue.
One issue that has been brought up is whether Pine voted on a now contentious expansion of the city's Urban Growth Area to include land owned by the Pine family near the Lawrence Municipal Airport. The land is now the site of a proposed industrial park that has sparked opposition from neighbors.
That vote was taken in December of 2003, according to planning records. Pine was not present at that meeting.