After the public hearing on February 5, 2020, it was reported that New Hartford Town Supervisor Paul Miscione recused himself from the vote stating that “he owns property in the area” so he couldn’t vote to break the tie.
Actually, there is no such thing as a tie vote at the board table...you either have a majority of affirmative votes; or you don't. It is called a failure to adopt by a majority vote.
Hopefully, Miscione is smart enough to now understand that he clearly does have a conflict of interest/ethics problem which requires that he not take part in any further discussions held either at the board table or elsewhere behind closed doors and he cannot take part in or cast a vote for or against the proposal during the scheduled Wednesday, July 29, 2020 Public Hearing without risking an Ethics complaint being filed.
Messa and Woodland voted ”nay” for the first vote held in February...
Messa was quoted in a February 6, 2020 WKTV article:
“Board member Messa says it might not be a bad idea to press pause on certain forms of development”Messa, who is the Ward 1 councilman covering, in particular the Chadwicks area, knows all too well the problems residents in his part of town have had with ongoing stormwater issues.
"It's another situation where we're building more apartments. I just think that we might be overdeveloping, if you will, and we're gonna reduce the number of greenspace that we have in our town," said Messa.
Will he change his vote to give Miscione the majority vote he is looking for or will he continue to think about the stress and heartbreak his own constituents have experienced with their stormwater problems from over-development and broken promises of developers?
What will Richard do?
After listening to many residents in his Ward who are opposed to the Conifer development because of ongoing water concerns on and near their property, Richard Woodland, the councilman for the Seneca Turnpike/Woods Highway area, said he voted “no” at the February town board meeting because he wanted to support the stormwater concerns of his constituents who live in the trajectory of the stormwater particularly during heavy rainstorms.
Will Councilman Woodland, a long-time friend of Paul Miscione now put the concerns of his constituents aside and vote “yes” to help his buddy get what he wants…further development along the Seneca Turnpike/Woods Highway corridor plus the "want" for Utica water for those landowners who have been unable to sell their vacant lots even after the last time they successfully teamed up with Larry Adler to change the zoning in that part of town?
Hopefully, Councilman Woodland will give this question a lot of thought lest he also find himself in the middle of an ethics, or possibly worse, issue.
Woodland’s problem is not so much a definite ethics problem right now; it is more the appearance of a conflict of interest and a possible shirking of his duties to the people who elected him as their voice at the board table.
As I said in a previous blog, Miscione Realty LLC purchased 8275 Seneca Turnpike in October 2016. That is true. However, what I didn’t tell you is in October 2019, shortly after Conifer made their second presentation to the town board in September 2019, Miscione Realty LLC sold 8275 Seneca Turnpike to Councilman Richard Woodland and Jeannette M. Marleau.
No big deal?
Maybe, except….the mortgage was obtained from Tampa 1 Realty, LLC., an LLC registered in Naples, Florida on January 25, 2016 under the name of Paul Miscione with his New Hartford address using a Florida name and address as the registering agent.
Oneida County records show that the return name and address for both the sale of the property at 8275 Seneca Turnpike and the mortgage for that location is: Calli, Calli & Cully Law Offices 510 Bleecker Street Utica NY.
As Councilman Woodland casts his vote after the board closes the public portion of the Pubic Hearing scheduled for July 29, 2020, he should keep in mind a concluding quote from the Tuxedo court case mentioned in my previous blog:
“[a]n amalgam of those cases indicates that the test to be applied is not whether there is a conflict, but whether there might be…. It is the policy of the law to keep the official so far from temptation as to ensure his unselfish devotion to the public interest.”A changed vote by Councilman Woodland from his previous “no” vote cast to support his constituents to a “yes” vote would most certainly give rise for New Hartford residents and taxpayers to question the motives behind Councilman Woodland’s changed vote.
Are votes on development projects in the Town of New Hartford, NY negotiable? We'll see..the integrity of the entire town board and town attorney might very well be in question.
Perception is everything, my friends!
To be continued...