November 29, 2006 Minutes

These minutes were posted by the Ethics.

Town of Pittsfield, New Hampshire
Ethics Committee
85 Main Street
Pittsfield, New Hampshire 03263
Date/Time : Wednesday November 29, 2006 7:00pm
Location : Town Hall, Small meeting room
Attending : G. Amnott , M. Bahr, R. Vien, H. Vogt, H. Sanborn
Members of Public : Many, including D. Simpson, D. Schroth, S. Munzinger, D. Chase,
P. Metcalf Sr., J. Leanarts, R.Elliott and counsel B. Guida.
Excused Absence : none
Unexcused Absence : none
Quorum? : Yes
1. Meeting was called to order at 7:06pm
2. H.Sanborn recused himself from the meeting.
3. Motion made to approve the minutes of 11/08. HV motion, RV second, unanimous
4. Motion made to approve the minutes of 11/15. HV motion, RV second, unanimous
5. The Chairman reviewed the agenda and re-read the complaint of Mr. Leanarts against
Mr. Elliott.
6. Mr. Leanarts stated that Mr. Cussen the owner of the lot could be contacted to
determine whether Mr. Elliott had interest in that lot.
7. Mr. Guida made the following objections to the Hearing proceeding :
A. He had a personal case in front of Planning Board on 11/14, and that Chairman
recused himself due to being a witness at this hearing. He finds that disturbing
that it may reveal bias.
B. He tried to get copies of the tapes of Zoning meetings and were told a
Selectperson had them out. Improper of them to leave town hall. He did
subsequently get them.
C. Per RSA91A right to know, he requested minutes and notes from 11/15 Ethics
meetings and was not able to get them.
D. Minutes were late from the 11/15 meeting, this is illegal.
E. He feels the 11/15 meeting was part of the hearing process and so he and his
client should have been notified per the Ethics rules of procedure. Also due to the
fact that the complainant was not there, per the rules of procedure the entire
complaint must be dismissed. He requested a vote on this by the Committee.
8. The Chairman explained that the rules of procedure were not violated, as 11/15 was a
special meeting and per the rules of procedure was publicly posted as required.
9. Motion made to dismiss the complaint based on the complainant not being present at
the 11/15 meeting. HV motion, RV second. GA, MB vote against, the motion failed.
10. Mr. Guida objected to continuing but will continue until a court injunction is
11. Mr. Guida refered to the Ethics Policy definition of pecuniary interest and argues that
we must show an advantage in this situation for Mr. Elliott from the leasor’s request.
12. The Chairman asked Mr. Elliott his plans for the property and Mr. Elliott said they
were unsure, and he did not plan to purchase it although he had in the past.
13. Requested witnesses were asked to explain their knowledge of the situation.
A. David Simpson, Chairman Planning Board – Reviewed the chain of events
leading from the September zoning board meeting to the re-hearing of Mr.
Beliveau’s application at the October meeting. Mr. Simpson stated his feeling was
that Mr. Elliott should have recused himself. Municipal law lectures he attended
made it clear if any doubt, recuse.
B. Susan Munzinger, Vice Chairman Zoning Board – Reviewed her meeting with the
town attorney regarding the September zoning board meeting. Both the town
attornedy and Ms. Munzinger felt Mr. Elliott should have recused himself.
14. Public Comment :
A. David Simpson – His choice to recuse at Mr. Guida’s application was simply
avoid confusion and make things clear. He did not have to do so but thought it
was best. Additionally no decision at the Zoning meeting equals a decision.
B. Dan Schroth – Mr. Leanarts has motive in this, Mr. Elliott does not. Notice for
meetings is crucial.
C. Don Chase – There was no action at the Zoning meeting in question, therefore
there is no issue. He supports Mr. Guida’s interpretation of the 11/15 meeting.
D. Paul Metcalf – Mr. Elliott made a mistake but an honest one.
15. R.Vien notes that in the Zoning procedures it says the property owner must request a
varience. S. Munzinger explained that if a record is on file of the owner allowing a
leasor to do this, it is accepted and that is what happened in this case.
16. Mr. Leanarts requests that the town implement a clear policy of mandatory recusal for
abutters, other towns do this very clearly.
17. Motion to accept the following finding concepts, with language to be further refined
by the Committee :
A. Mr. Elliott should have recused himself. Public perception of pecuniary interest
for any discussion regarding abutters is such that recusal should be mandatory for
all land use boards.
B. No intent or demonstrable pecuniary interest was found from the special
exception request in this case. We find no violation of the code of ethics
Motion made by MB, second by GA. HV approve, RV no due to his feeling that the
town attorney should be consulted regarding the 11/15 meeting before any findings
are voted upon. Motion passes 3-1.
18. Meeting adjourned at 8:30pm by Chairman.
Respectfully submitted by Secretary M. Bahr