North Attleborough Planning Board Chairman Raymond Payson Fined $5,000
For Participating in Decisions When He and His Brother Owned Abutting Property
According to a Disposition Agreement, Payson and his brother own a 7.6 acre vacant lot on Landry Avenue that abuts an 11.1 acre lot on John Dietsch Boulevard owned by Corliss Development Group, L.L.C. (Corliss). In early spring 2006, when Corliss submitted plans for the development of its property, Payson stated he was not going to participate in the Corliss property development matters because of his abutter status. Notwithstanding this statement, Payson participated by:
- approving a site plan application
- attending and participating in discussions during a site walk
- approving site plan modifications
- inspecting the property with the Planning Board engineer
- writing a letter to Corliss on Planning Board letterhead stating that utility work was "at risk of not receiving planning board approval"
Section 19 of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from officially participating in matters in which to his knowledge he or an immediate family member has a financial interest. By participating in approvals, decisions and inspections regarding the Corliss property which would have a reasonably foreseeable financial impact on his abutting property's value, Payson violated § 19.
"The conflict of interest law is intended to ensure that public employees act in the best interests of the citizens they represent rather than their own self-interests," said spokesperson Carol Carson. "They should not take any action on matters affecting property that abuts their own property."