In response to an inquiry from VillageSoup, Jackson town attorney Bill Kelly disputed the idea that a town selectman can have a conflict of interest with regard to changes in the town’s code of ordinances. Kelly made it a point to say that he was speaking about town government generally, and that confidentiality prevented him from speaking about conversations with Jackson town officials.

“I’ve tried to explain this to the people in Jackson,” Kelly said. “There’s no legislation without a vote at town meeting.”

Kelly noted that, unlike a city council, which has legislative authority, select boards cannot directly make changes to the code of ordinances.

Potential conflicts come into play, Kelly said, when a town official responsible for licensing or permitting stands to benefit financially from issuing those documents.

Otherwise, Kelly said, a selectman’s opinion is just that. “There’s no conflict for a select board member to voice an opinion about legislation at a town meeting,” he said. “Politics are rough and tumble.”

VillageSoup recently reported that two Jackson selectmen “acknowledged potential conflicts of interest with regard to decisions on industrial wind development.”

Selectman John Work was a subcontractor on the Beaver Ridge Wind development in Freedom. In a recent letter to the editor, Selectman David Greeley said that he had previously signed an option with Citizens Energy to locate two turbines on his property. According to Greeley, Citizens Energy decided in spring 2009 “not to continue their development plan.”

By Kelly’s definition, these do not constitute conflicts of interest. But Kelly said a wide range of affiliations could lead to an “appearance of conflict,” which is more subjective.

“It’s like obscenity,” he said. “You’re supposed to know it when you see it.”

Work blamed members of the Planning Board’s Wind Power Sub-Committee for perpetuating the idea that his past business affiliations constituted a conflict of interest with regard to discussions of Jackson’s wind ordinance.

“The only thing they’ve done for the last 15 months is to try to discredit everybody who doesn’t agree with them. And that’s not what this is about,” he said.

Jackson residents are scheduled to vote on a new wind energy ordinance at a special town meeting, 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Jackson Community Center. The ordinance up for consideration was drafted by the Planning Board and pushed to a vote by a citizen petition.