Records Reveal New Bern’s Mayor is Connected to Land Developer

Alderman Odham and Patrick McCullough
Alderman Odham and Patrick McCullough (Screenshot from P & Z Board meeting)

“If any vote has a direct substantial financial impact on a member, you will not be able to vote.” – Tom Carruthers

Update: This was published prior to Mayor Odham taking the oath of office so we updated his title to reflect the change. The BOA meeting was erroneously dated August 16. We corrected it to August 15. We also added construction to the list of businesses after seeing it on the P & G of New Bern annual report.

Newly elected Mayor Jeffrey Odham tells the public he’s the Senior Regional Sales Manager for PPG Industries, a paint company. It turns out, he’s involved in the construction, real estate and land management business.

We realized this after seeing an item on the amended version of the New Bern Board of Aldermen (BOA) meeting agenda for August 15, 2022 that we received late Friday afternoon.

The initial agenda didn’t have items on the consent agenda. Now there’s three. We research each item as we do prior to each meeting. Item 5 — Consider Adopting a Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing to Rezone Parcels adjacent to Craeberne Forest Subdivision. We looked up each parcel on Craven GIS Maps that were listed on the agenda. They are owned by McCullough Farms LLC. During our search, P & J of New Bern was listed on an adjacent property. Both companies mailing address listed on the property records is 5003 Morton Road. Searching for who lives at that address, we discovered it’s Jeffrey Odham’s house.

We searched the NC Secretary of State’s website for McCullough Farms, LLC and P & J of New Bern. Both list Patrick O. McCullough as the Manager with the Principal Office Address listed as 5003 Morton Road.

McCullough who has disclosed that he lives in the Philippines, attended the Planning and Zoning (P & Z) Board meeting on August 4. He asked the board to rezone seven parcels off Trent Creek Road. The parcels would be part of the development of Craeberne Forest Subdivision. He also mentioned the NC Connector.

The parcels (8-210-11002, 8-210-11003, 8-210-11004, 8-210-11006, 8-210-11009, 8-210-11010, 8-210-23000) were approved by the P & Z Board are the same that were added to tonight’s consent agenda for the board meeting. The owner wants to rezone the property from Agricultural Forestry District and Residential District, to Residential.

Learn about Ethics at a local level by watching Tom Carruthers, Senior Assistant General Council with the NC League of Municipalities presentation on Ethics:

Mayor Odham has not recused himself from participating in discussions and/or voting on issues where he has a business stake.

There has been much discussion about the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). This is a process of bringing in higher income neighborhoods like areas of Craeberne Forest into the City and relinquishing the ETJ of other properties that have a lower tax assessment. If passed, it may impact residents whose families have lived in New Bern for 100+ years. They would lose their identification with the City as their properties would be relinquished to Craven County. They would also be required to seek certain utilities.

We did not research records/videos from the nine years that he has been in office. Here are a few other items Odham discussed and/or voted yes on the following:

January 26, 2021 – Voted for a bill to be brought to the state legislation to allow developers the option to pay the City for the cost of constructing sidewalks in their subdivisions and commercial properties. Hence, the citizens would rely on employees to get the job done.

July 14, 2020 – Voted to adopt a resolution encouraging the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to Proceed with the Highway 43 Connector Project. According to the City Clerk’s minutes, Mayor Odham said “developers always ask when the road will be completed, and its completion will bring more businesses.”

May 22, 2018 – Discussed the Highway 43 Connector.

June 12, 2018 – Voted to adopt a resolution in support of the Highway 43 Connect — projected to affect Craeberne Forest Subdivision.

We asked the BOA and Mayor Odham for a comment. Odham’s, “Patrick McCullough is the sole member and owner of those entities you mentioned. Pat spends the majority of his time in the Philippines with his new wife. He asked me a few years ago if I would help him my signing documents on his behalf since he is often out of the county, which I have done since 2019. I have no ownership or financial interest in his businesses. It’s simply a transaction support function.” 

We followed up with asking for more information:

If he’s the sole member, why was his (Patrick McCullough) address listed on the NC Secretary of State’s annual report as 4315 Country Club Road and your address (Jeffrey Odham) listed as Principal Office Street Address? Please provide the power of attorney and/or other documents to support your claim. Who runs his business while he’s away? Why wouldn’t their address be listed as the Principal Office Address?

Craven GIS lists his address on properties prior to 2019 so what he says doesn’t add up.

We also asked if he received the required two hours of ethics training annually for the past 9 years and he said yes.

Questions or comments? Send us an email.

By Wendy Card, Editor