The Elk Grove City Council voted 4-0 Wednesday night to terminate the employment of city attorney Susan Burns Cochran.
The council gave no official reason for the dismissal, which takes effect at the end of the day Friday. Cochran was let go without cause, which means that she isn't accused of any wrongdoing and will receive the full severance package promised in her contract.
"The City Council wishes Ms. Cochran the best in her future endeavors," Elk Grove Mayor Steven Detrick said in a prepared statement.
Cochran, a land use expert who served as city attorney in Lathrop and assistant city attorney in Santa Clara before coming to Elk Grove in 2007, also released a statement to the press. In it, she said she had been commuting at least two hours to work each day and had "missed a lot."
"This will give me a chance to be more involved with my family," she wrote. "I would like to express my gratitude to the gracious City staff...for their professionalism, support and friendship."
City policy bars council members from talking about the specific motives for the decision, which was taken in closed session. But Cochran has been on the receiving end of some pointed questions from the dais recently as the council navigated a and related to a proposed Walmart store.
"The decision was made for a more collaborative approach with the executive team and the council and we decided to look at our options," said Detrick after the meeting.
Councilmember Sophia Scherman abstained from the vote, explaining that she was absent when council members first discussed the decision.
Jon Hobbs of the Sacramento law firm Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann and Girard will serve as acting city attorney beginning Monday. The council is expected to take up the question of appointing a new city attorney at its Aug. 10 meeting.
Gold's Gym Rezone Approved
The council also gave the thumbs-up to a for the building near I-5 that houses Gold's Gym, which could set the stage for the bank-owned property to become a church.
Members of , an evangelical Christian congregation that has on the building, turned out in force for the meeting.
The council voted unanimously to change the building's zoning from 'travel commercial' to 'general commercial,' a broader category that allows a range of uses including churches.
Some council members said they weren't voting to support the church project, but to give the city more options in case the gym, which has faced financial challenges, closes.
"If Gold's Gym does go under then you're going to have a big building sitting vacant," said Councilmember Gary Davis. "Without the flexibility I fear that it's going to sit there for a while."
The church would still have to obtain additional permits to renovate the space.