Disagreement between North Ogden resident and councilman continues

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:46 PM

Rachel Trotter, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

NORTH OGDEN — Actions remained civil between resident Michael Dufrene and Councilman Wade Bigler at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

At the meeting Dufrene read a statement asking for an apology from Bigler.

At issue was an event back in May. Dufrene was one of the appellants in an appeal of a conditional-use permit for resident Tom Baguley, who wanted a business license to run an auto repair shop from his home garage, which is in Dufrene’s neighborhood. During the discussions over the appeal, Dufrene and Bigler were at odds about issues surrounding the appeal. According to Dufrene, Bigler made a public accusation that Defrene sent a letter in May asking to not have a public hearing on a matter.

At the May 28 meeting, the council was trying to decide whether to open the discussion over the appeal to residents. Dufrene told Bigler he thought they should, but Bigler said that in a letter Dufrene wrote he stated the opposite.

Bigler now maintains that he was referring to all the appellants in the case and considered them as one — so while the letter may not have been from Dufrene himself, it was from one of the appellants, which in his mind, means it was from Dufrene as well.

Bigler has yet to produce the letter, despite Dufrene’s requests. According to Dufrene, Bigler said the letter was in the packet of 74 documents that were sent to the council and those involved with the case. But Dufrene pointed out that the last document in the packet, which was signed by all six appellants says they all agreed they did want to have a public hearing.

“With that I conclude and am ready to hear an apology,” Dufrene said at the meeting.

Bigler told Dufrene that the appeals board is a legal entity and he viewed the appellants as one. Bigler also said that at the May 28 meeting, according to the recording, he was speaking to all of the appellants, not just Dufrene.

Dufrene said in the written and approved minutes that are posted online that he isn’t addressing the appellants, just Dufrene. According to the minutes, it reads, “Councilmember Bigler stated Mr. Dufrene’s letter states the opposite in asking that the issue not be opened up for everyone to speak on.”

When the two started going back and forth during Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Richard Harris said he would not allow this debate.

Bigler said the recorded minutes are not typed exactly like the audio.

“I’m not going to throw the administration under the bus … I don’t expect it to be word for word,” Bigler said of the written minutes.

Bigler told Dufrene he would provide a copy of the recorded audio minutes so Dufrene could hear them, but Dufrene said he wouldn’t expect them.

“I’ve been down that road before,” Dufrene said, referring to Bigler having not returned numerous emails.

“I did not use your name,” Bigler told Dufrene in reference to the letter. “I offer you no ill will.”

Dufrene still maintains that Bigler lied.

In an email to the Standard-Examiner on Wednesday morning, Dufrene said that whether he was referring to Dufrene as an individual or to all the appellants, Bigler has yet to produce a letter that states the group did not want a public hearing.

“He never produced a letter from the appellants and besides, it doesn’t matter. As the last document says, ‘all appellants want a public hearing.’” Dufrene said.

Resident Ryan Jones also spoke about the issue.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Dufrene,” Jones said.

Jones said he and Dufrene spoke about the conditional-use permit issue last May and agreed to disagree. He would like to see that kind of thing happening more in the city.

“We can oppose, but we can respect,” he said.

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