Winchendon Planning Board Member Guy Corbosiero to Pay $2,000 Civil Penalty for Conflict of Interest Law Violations
Opposed Creation of Affordable Housing on Properties Abutting His Sister's House
The State Ethics Commission ("Commission") approved a Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") in which Winchendon Planning Board ("Planning Board") member Guy Corbosiero ("Corbosiero") admitted to violating the conflict of interest law in connection with actions he took in his capacity as a Planning Board member to oppose the creation of affordable housing units on five properties in the Town of Winchendon (the "Town"), two of which abutted or were near his sister's home. Pursuant to the Agreement, Corbosiero will pay a $2,000 civil penalty.
According to the Agreement, in 2008, the Winchendon Housing Authority ("WHA") sought to create additional affordable housing in the Town. The WHA requested that the Planning Board support at the May 2008 town meeting a warrant article that would create an affordable housing overlay district (the "Overlay District"). The Overlay District would have allowed the WHA to create 130 new affordable housing units on five properties in the Town. Corbosiero's sister and her husband resided in a home that was across the street from one of the properties and a block away from another of the properties. At an April 2008 Planning Board meeting, Corbosiero, in his capacity as a Planning Board member, spoke in strong opposition to the proposed warrant article and voted against it. As a result, the WHA withdrew its plan to submit the article for consideration at town meeting. The following year, the WHA presented a revised version of the Overlay District warrant article to the Planning Board. Corbosiero again spoke and voted at a Planning Board meeting in opposition to the article, and his motion that the Planning Board not recommend the article to town meeting was approved.
Section 19 of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from participating as such an employee in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he or an immediate family member has a financial interest. Under the conflict of interest law, a property owner is presumed to have a financial interest in matters affecting abutting and nearby property, although this presumption may be rebutted. By participating as a Planning Board member in considering the two proposed Overlay District warrant articles, which would have authorized the creation of affordable housing on two properties that were, respectively, across the street and a block away from his sister's home, Corbosiero participated in matters in which his sister, an immediate family member, had a financial interest. Therefore, Corbosiero violated section 19.