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Manager of planning project resigns amid conflict-of-interest questions

TAMPA — The manager of a regional planning initiative resigned Friday amid mounting criticism that her second job with a group of large landowners undermined public confidence in the project.

Amy Maguire stepped down from her post as consultant of One Bay, a planning project started by the Tampa Bay Partnership, a regional economic development group, to promote a unified plan for regional growth in the next 50 years.

"We accepted Amy's resignation," said SunTrust Bank president Dan Mahurin, chairman of One Bay. "She realized it was the right thing to do to allow the process to move forward without any more questions."

Maguire didn't return phone calls or an e-mail requesting comment.

The move came after news emerged this week that Maguire was moonlighting as a consultant for the South Side Landowner Coalition, a group of large farmers in southern Hills­borough County who want to develop more than 5,000 acres of their fields for homes, retail and offices. The group, led by a company controlled by the Mormon Church, sought approval for a plan that would have allowed more than 9,000 homes.

One Bay officials called Maguire's dual role a perceived, but not necessarily an actual, conflict of interest.

Still, they considered the perception serious enough to meet Friday afternoon to discuss what to do about Maguire. Earlier in the week, they mutually agreed that she would quit her consulting job with the landowners.

But that didn't satisfy County Commissioner Mark Sharpe and several residents, who said her objectivity couldn't be trusted to guide One Bay and that she needed to leave.

Mahurin said he hoped that now that One Bay has severed ties with Maguire, the critics will be satisfied.

"I think we dealt with the issue," he said. "It's our belief that we'll continue with the process and bring the region together."

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (813) 226-3402 or mvansickler@sptimes.com.

Manager of planning project resigns amid conflict-of-interest questions 04/11/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 11, 2008 11:09pm]
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