Ted Ford, owner of 559 Jerusalem Road , is attempting to build a home at that location. In spite of his having a legal building permit, the Cohasset Conservation commission will not issue him a storm water drainage permit, not even with conditions. Ford is prepared to go to court over the matter which has been before the conservation commission for several years.
Abutter Peter DeCaprio apparently wishes to involve the selectmen in this issue. Other than the fact that selectmen appoint the conservation commission they really have no dog in this fight except to be very good listeners. Oops. Sorry, they do have a dog. He is Mike Milanoski, acting town manager, who has been using town counsel as a yoyo, pulling him on and off issues as he desires. Ford complains that the conservation commission is utilizing the abutter’s attorney. It certainly looks like this is true. And it does appear the selectmen’s acting town manager is a major player in this issue.
You might remember that selectmen are the ones who reinvented the conservation commission two years ago by removing 3 senior members and replacing them with commissioners who had no training — all of whom became sitting, voting conservation members upon their appointment. In the past, associate members studied for years before they become associates. 2011 was a major departure from tried and true practices. This has hurt our town.
The new Town Manager Act Amendment (to be voted at annual town meeting 2013) would give selectmen legal oversight over the permitting boards they appoint. They should not have any legal oversight over the permitting boards they appoint. PLEASE VOTE AGAINST THE TOWN MANAGER ACT AMENDMENT. It does not know what it does.
Selectmen’s acting town manager has already inserted himself into the conversation commission, making it jump through rings for Peter DeCaprio. At one point DeCaprio’s personal attorney, Jay Talerman, was the pro bono attorney for the conservation commission. Is it possible he continues as special counsel for the water commission, on which DeCaprio serves and is chairman? Is there a conflict here? DeCaprio says not. We un-respectively disagree.
When at a recent meeting Ford’s attorney, Charles Humphreys asked where he should serve his complaint, to the conservation commission’s shadow attorney Jay Talerman, or to Town Counsel. Milanoski told Humphreys to address it to town counsel, and not to the Shadow Government’s de facto attorney. What else could Milanoski do in public?
DeCaprio has called for the issuance of all kinds of public records on this issue that he says has not received. It is unknown if selectmen will involve themselves with this issue. On Wed., April 10 at 6 p.m. the sewer commission will meet on various issues including a public document request for 559 Jerusalem Road-update. Under Correspondence/Communications, there is a item called “Office of the Attorney General: Commonwealth of MA v. Town of Cohasset.” It is unknown what this communications is about. We shall soon find out.
DeCaprio charges are in bold
Ted Ford’s answer is regular type.
DECAPRIO – I was recently forwarded Mr. Ford’s remarkable request seeking Jack Creighton’s recusal and the associated documentation he presents in support of that request. Leaving aside for the moment the sheer and utter irony of Mr. Ford complaining about process and conflicts of interest, it is important to address an issue that Mr. Ford raises in his recusal “Addendum,” specifically his second point regarding my attorney Jason Talerman. As you recall, the issue of Mr. Talerman’s potential conflict in representing me in the 559 Jerusalem Road matter in addition to his representation simultaneously of the Cohasset Water Commission as Special Counsel was indeed investigated by the Massachusetts Ethics Commission where it was determined that no such conflict existed. While it is understandable that Mr. Ford may be frustrated by Mr. Talerman’s effectiveness as a communicator and advocate, it is outrageous to throw out such damaging accusations every time one loses an argument. Perhaps Mr. Ford’s ire would be better directed at his own representatives.
FORD: As the applicant for the permit at 559 Jerusalem Rd., I feel compelled to respond to various assertions in Mr. DeCaprio’s letter which are simply untrue. Jay Talerman, the personal attorney of Mr. DeCaprio who also is Special Counsel to the Water Department is in violation of State Law on Conflict of Interest under section 268 a.( II ) of the Massachusetts Code. An official complaint to the State Board of Ethics is in process. He has by no means been exonerated.
DECAPRIO: I will leave to Mr. Creighton whether the comments of Mr. Ford and Ms. Comerford rise to the level of defamation and slander. While Mr. Ford complains (a lot) that he has been mistreated through this process, I will remind you that one of our positions throughout the hearings on 559 Jerusalem was that Mr. Ford’s application was premature and thus put the Conservation Commission in an impossible position of ruling on something that never should have been in front of it in the first place. Mr. Creighton and all of the members of the Conservation Commission conducted themselves with probity and judiciousness throughout, which is amply reflected by the record. Instead of being condemned by Mr. Ford, the Con-com should be commended by those of us concerned with fair play, non-preferential treatment from town boards, and the equal application of town rules and regulations.
FORD: Mr. DeCaprio himself is similarly in violation of the same law. He has abused his position as a Cohasset Official by telephoning authorities in the State Government stating that he was calling in his role as Town Official in order to try to interfere with my legal rights in appealing my claim. Mr. DeCaprio’s actions were both surreptitious and illegal. A request for legal action against Mr. DeCaprio is pending.
The permit before the Conservation Commission was in no way “premature”. The lot meets the legal criteria for a building permit. We have received unequivocal opinions on this matter from legal counsel and appropriate officials of the Town of Cohasset.
I only know Heather Comerford by reputation, but Mr. DeCaprio and Mr. Creighton’s insinuation that she has somehow lied in her letter is totally unfair. She has no reason to lie. She is a brave person and a good citizen. Mr. Creighton’s allegiance to Peter DeCaprio has been clear to all involved since day one of this matter. I would say the same about Mr. Milanoski. There is no question but that Mr. Creighton should have recused at the time of the original request. As a result of his refusal to recuse all subsequent proceedings have been tainted.
DECAPRIO; Since Mr. Ford appears to be concerned with full disclosure (and winking), I would remind you that, in the interest of full disclosure, I have submitted two carefully tailored requests for public records, designed to obtain the disclosure of all relevant documents and communications regarding this matter. However, the two town officials that are intimately aware of the various processes affecting Mr. Ford and his misguided development efforts at 559 Jerusalem, Wayne Sawchuk and Paul Shea, have been completely unresponsive to our public records request and are therefore in violation of Massachusetts state law. We will no doubt exercise our rights under that law. But since Mr. Ford appears to be sincerely interested in conflicts and recusals, let’s examine them all in detail and with great relish. I call upon the Board of Selectmen to investigate the curious circumstances surrounding the Ford’s sewer application and Mr. Sawchuk’s role in it. Furthermore, in the interest of full disclosure and fairness, I would suggest that the Selectmen demand that the process be fully examined and reopened. Given the longstanding relationship between Mr. Sawchuk and Mr. Ford, Mr. Sawchuk must recuse himself from any revote on the Fords’ sewer application. The Cohasset sewer commission’s rules regarding vacant lots are clear and unambiguous, and they are posted on the commission’s website. Surely Mr. Ford can’t object to the equal application of department rules. After all, isn’t that what he’s asking for?
FORD: Wayne Sawchuk had absolutely nothing to do with the approval of the sewer permit. He was out of town and not present at the meeting or deliberations on the decision to approve the permit. If Mr. DeCaprio has an issue, he should direct it to Mr. John Beck who chaired that meeting of the Sewer Commission. Their vote to approve was unanimous and was based on the fact that there was a prior building with a septic system on that lot and that a stub to the property should have been installed when the line was built. The decision was certainly within the purview and authority of the Commission.
DECAPRIO: Throughout the Fords’ application process before the Concom, they acted with a sense of entitlement. They have made statements in the press suggesting their application was routine, which it clearly wasn’t, and how a positive disposition ought to have been a matter of course, with all evidence pointing to the contrary. Instead, the evidence tells a story about a marginal property of great environmental value that, for the last several decades has been written off as unbuildable and preferably preserved in its open and natural state. The Ford’s have harassed and threatened the Concom at virtually every step. Even while the Ford’s lawsuit against the Concom was outstanding, Mr. Creighton and his fellow members allowed the hearing to be reopened, an utterly generous and decent gesture. The Ford’s had the temerity to even challenge Concom’s voting process and to threaten the filing of additional litigation against the Commission, all the while suggesting that the Town could not afford to fight their endless stream of idle threats and vitriol. Why?
FORD:The only party guilty of “back room dealings” is Mr. DeCaprio. His intimidation of Town employees has been unfair and appalling. There have certainly been no such dealings from our side. All Town employees and Officials have been treated with the courtesy and respect they deserve.
My brother Chris is not the applicant. Since he spends a good part of the year in the Town he is quarterbacking this permit request for me and my wife. Chris is a long time citizen and public servant of the Town. He does not deserve the abuse he has been subject to.
DECAPRIO: Mr. Creighton and Concom could only rule on the merits of the application before them. They did only rule on the merits of the application. No reasonable person who was witness to the proceedings and the facts presented could ignore the subtext and the curious and bizarre nature of the application. A substandard lot, for decades considered unbuildable (for good reason) suddenly appears before the Concom with an impossible sewer permit and a phantom zoning argument. The applicant’s contractor, without any permits, digs up a street inside the 100’ buffer and connects to a town-owned utility without any house plans and before Concom has even ruled on the requisite permits.
FORD: Arthur Pompeo, our contractor, is a person of utmost ethics. He followed all permitting requirements and the Concom was duly notified and signed off on the construction of the sewer stub.
DECAPRIO: I cannot speak for the Concom and do not presume to, but any objective observer could see what was unfolding: the Cohasset Old Boy network hard at work. Long-time residents used to having things their way are suddenly offended when someone actually challenges their rule-bending and their arrogant sense of entitlement. How else could you persuade a friend, as happened with the Ford’s sewer application, to flagrantly overlook the minimum requirements of a department’s own rules, and grant highly preferential treatment to one applicant versus another? Yes, Ms. Comerford, you clearly do not have all the facts.
FORD; This permit request would be routine except for the repeated histrionics of Mr. DeCaprio. I doubt that any other applicant in the history of the Town has been put through the wringer as my wife and I have been in this process.
DECAPRIO: Due to shortcomings in our by-laws, Mr. Creighton and the members of Concom couldn’t take any of that into consideration in their deliberations. Nor could they properly give vent to any concerns they might have regarding the highly questionable circumstances surrounding the lot at 559 Jerusalem. It is up to private citizens and boards like the Selectmen to rectify things. This process has been a travesty and the Concom was placed in a horrible position by utter and absolute abdication of fair process by another town department.
Whether or not the Selectmen choose to examine these curious circumstances, one thing is for certain: I will redouble my efforts to ensure this application visits every applicable forum for a full hearing and finding on the facts. I never look for fights but, in this case, I look forward to seeing this matter through and, to that end, have been encouraged by the hundreds of residents in town that have emboldened us every step of the way.
FORD: It saddens me to witness the bullying and stridency that seems to have taken over the Town in which I grew up and loved. I hope the better people of the Town will stand up to the bullies and put them in their place.
© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed