Selectmen have officially scheduled a hearing to potentially remove Leo Bartolini from the Zoning Board of Appeals. That will take place Tuesday, December 6 at 7:00 pm. Selectmen may vote that night or continue to another meeting.
On Tuesday night, the Board of Selectment also approved a list of eight charges to be considered against the former ZBA Chair.
Two weeks ago, selectmen approved holding the removal hearing and tentatively scheduled it for this week. At the time, they acknowledged they were unsure about the procedure and may need to give more notice. After consulting with the Town’s labor counsel, they determined more time was needed.
Counsel advised the board to follow a multi-step process set by the Town of Boylston for a removal hearing for a ZBA member in 2010. First, selectmen needed to identify charges.
Selectmen didn’t discuss the merits of individual charges. In their prior meeting, they ruled that complainants showed enough cause to hold a hearing. This week, they simply ruled that the hearing would be based on all of the petitioners complaints.
Charges extracted from the petition were:
- Continued loss of public confidence in the adequacy of Mr. Bartolini’s judgement and temperament for a ZBA role
- Continued loss of public confidence in Mr. Bartolini’s concern for public safety and welfare
- Mr. Bartolini’s ongoing general disrespect for the citizen/voter/taxpayer opinions
- Mr. Bartolini’s sexist and appalling treatment of women at ZBA hearings
- Mr. Bartolini’s ongoing erroneous statements of facts during public hearings, which continuously have to be corrected by Town Counsel and others
- Mr. Bartolini’s record of process missteps during his time as ZBA chairman
- Mr. Bartolini’s failure to adhere to common sense practices and protocols with fellow committees
- Continued loss of public confidence in Mr. Bartolini’s ability or desire to follow due process in zoning permitting
Board of Selectmen members Bonnie Phaneuf and John Rooney recused themselves from voting on charges or participating in the hearing.
Phaneuf’s recusal was based on discussions with the Ethics Commission. She believes she may be called to testify based on her role in examples cited in the complaint petition. (Materials attached to the complaint include documents from complaints against Bartolini in 2010. Phaneuf was the BOS Chair at the time, received the complaints, and was involved in resolving them. Rooney was also serving on the board at the time, thought that didn’t come up this week.)
Rooney said he reluctantly agreed to recuse himself after being instructed by the Attorney General that he does have a conflict. Rooney is a tenant at a Park Central office building abutting the development. The AG ruled that Park Central is clearly intertwined based on complaints in the petition.
At the December 6th hearing, labor counsel will swear in everyone who intends to testify. Petitioners will be given a chance to testify and provide witnesses. The same opportunity will be given to Bartolini. Then both will provide final statements and rebuttals.
If either party decides they need more time they can request an extension to another night. Otherwise, selectmen will close the hearing that night. They can make right away, or take the “matter under advisement” and vote at a future meeting.