The Van Liew Recall Timeline 6 20-11


Published on

Town of Chelmsford, MA
Events leading up to upcoming August 2, 2011 Special Election
to recall four members of the Board of Selectmen
Prepared by Choose Chelmsford
June 20, 2011

Published in: News & Politics
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The Van Liew Recall Timeline 6 20-11

  1. 1. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11 Town of Chelmsford, MA Events leading up to upcoming August 2, 2011 Special Election to recall four members of the Board of Selectmen Prepared by Choose Chelmsford June 20, 2011Background:Roland Van LiewChelmsford, MAOwner and Principal, Hands On Technology Transfer, Chelmsford, MA, an IT/TechnologyTraining CompanyAffiliations: New England Coalition for Sustainable Population (NECSP), Board of Directors The Slow Growth Initiative (SGI) Chelmsford “Better not Bigger” Alliance Cheating ChelmsfordIn the spring of 1992, Mr. Van Liew (RVL) authored an article for the Center for Research onPopulation Security. The Editorial Note characterizes RVL as “an environmental activist ineastern Massachusetts.” He concludes that “Vatican power politics threaten reproductive rightsof non-adherents; nothing less than our civil liberties and our national security are at stake.”See the complete article at moved to Hemlock Drive in Chelmsford, MA several years ago. RVL has cited studiesshowing that tax revenue from “growth” does not come close to covering the additional coststhat such growth creates. If that is true, it means that his property and the entire Hemlock Drivedevelopment is a financial drain on the town. RVL chose to build a large home in a newdevelopment that prior to his construction, was essentially woodland. He elected to build onclear-cut open space. He did not buy an existing home and “redevelop” it, thereby minimizingany new growth. That is clearly his right, but his criticisms and characterizations ofnew construction growth development as predatory, costly, and deleterious to the town arecertainly at variance with his actions.2001/2002: Re: North Road: Emerson House is owned by MassBank, predecessor company to Eastern Bank. Developer Michael Eliopoulos (the father of Philip Eliopoulos, who at the time was a member of the Board of Selectmen) approaches MassBank asking if they would consider selling North Road parcel. MassBank declines.2007: RVL goes public in Chelmsford with the Slow Growth Initiative (SGI). SGI employee Fred Marcks appears before the Board of Selectmen outlining SGI objectives. A 5/8/2009 RVL e-mail to town resident and In-Town Report editor Roy Earley confirms that RVL is a SGI co-founder. 1
  2. 2. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11March, 2007: FD/DPW Facility Study Committee is established. Committee is funded with $17K from Town Manager Paul Cohen to conduct fire department location study; Pat Maloney is committee chair.July, 2007: SGI presents anti-growth petition to Board of Selectmen. Petition contains approximately 600 resident signatures and expresses opposition to further development. This becomes the basis for future SGI mailings.July, 2007: RVL e-mails Town Manager Paul Cohen, asking that he change the Development Coordinator position to that of a “Sustainability Engineer,” saying that the overwhelming majority of residents want the position‟s focus changed from “urban planner” to sustainability efforts.August, 2007: Cohen responds to RVL, “…I have considered your comments….What I am seeking is the best person who can address the concerns that you noted as well as other priorities…”August, 2007: RVL accuses Cohen of ignoring his concerns and threatens “continued political uproar over your decisions” going forward (RVL 8/7/2007 e-mail to Paul Cohen).August, 2007: FD/DPW Facility Study Committee completes location study for central fire station head quarters.Sept, 2007: FD/DPW Facility Study Committee presents recommendations to Board of Selectmen. Recommendation says that North Road site is too small and that renovation and/or modification to the existing structure is not feasible. Committee recommends that Fire Dept. “should ideally relocate the Fire Dept. HQ (station 1) to a location close to the current HQ.”October,2007: FD/DPW Facility Study Committee requests and receives $85K at Town Meeting for feasibility study for Fire Dept. and Dept. of Public Works facilities.2007: SGI drops fliers on cars at Scotty Hollow Condominiums; fliers are critical of Paul Cohen and Evan Belansky, the new Community Planner.Nov,2007: Board of Selectmen sponsors 40B public forum with State officials to discuss reform efforts.Spring, 2008: FD/DPW Facility Study Committee hires Weston & Sampson/HKT Architects to conduct study to review potential sites and develop options for the Fire Dept. and DPW. 2
  3. 3. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11August, 2008: RVL sends an e-mail to a resident accusing the Town Manager and Board of Assessors of “systematically and purposely” seriously undervaluing Chelmsford commercial properties to avoid legal challenges, a violation of State law. No evidence is presented to support this serious charge, and RVL makes no effort to present his charge to State authorities.Sept, 2008: Permanent Building Committee initiated; discusses possibility of development of DPW facility at 9 Alpha Road. Pat Maloney is named committee chair since Permanent Building Committee will continue the work of the FD/DPW Study Committee.October, 2008:Pat Maloney expresses concern at FD/DPW Facility Study Committee meeting about whether site at Chelmsford Street/Wilson Street was most economical and fiscally sound option; suggested closer look at existing Fire Dept. site and property behind it.2008-2010: Several mailings from SGI attacking and disparaging Cohen, the Selectmen and others, implying or stating that they are corrupt and continually work for the benefit of connected insiders and against the wishes and welfare of town residents. The thrust of these communications center around Chelmsford 40B development activity. Cohen and BOS members are continually accused of having and promoting a “pro-growth” agenda for the benefit of their friends and “cronies,” at the expense and to the detriment of residents. Allegations are numerous, but no evidence is ever supplied.April, 2009: Selectmen Philip Eliopoulos and Bill Dalton do not to run for re-election. George Dixon, Matt Hanson, Don Van Dyne, and Sean Scanlon are on the ballot for two open BOS seats. John Belskis, Chairman of the Coalition to Repeal 40B, publishes a letter to Chelmsford residents accusing Van Dyne of wrongdoing and unethical behavior regarding Van Dyne‟s involvement in 40B developments. Van Dyne loses election.Feb, 2009: The FD/DPW Facility Study Committee recommends siting the Fire Station HQ on Chelmsford St / Wilson Street. Chairman Pat Maloney remains in favor of renovating existing facility and expanding; Paul Cohen not involved in vote.Feb, 2009: Paul Cohen hears from Hank Houle that he heard Eastern Bank was considering subdividing and selling Emerson House and land behind it. Cohen and Pat Maloney call Tom Dunn of Eastern Bank to ask if he‟d considering selling just the land parcel to the town. Dunn says he‟ll get back to them.Feb., 2009: Pat Maloney notifies the Permanent Building Committee of the possibility of acquiring land behind the fire station from Eastern Bank.Late Feb,2009: Paul Cohen informs Pat Maloney that the Bank‟s appraisal value of Emerson House plus the land is $430K and there is an offer of $480K from Michael Eliopoulos of Epsilon Group. Both feel it may still be possible for the town to purchase some of the land. Maloney is not certain of value of land-only parcel; estimates $300K. 3
  4. 4. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11March, 2009: Paul Cohen receives approval from Board of Selectmen to inquire of the Bank about possibility of purchasing some of the land behind the fire station. Philipip Eliopoulos is not present at said portion of the meeting (see March 16, 2009 Board of Selectmen Meeting minutes. Pat Maloney informs Permanent Building Committee of town‟s continued interest in the land.March, 2009: Pat Maloney makes a presentation to the Board of Selectman to present options resulting from the FD/DPW feasibility study. The recommendation was to move ahead with a $12 million project at Chelmsford St / Wilson Street for the fire station and also a site at Alpha Road for the DPW. Maloney reiterates that he and Cohen and the Permanent Building Committee think it‟s a good idea to explore the purchase of the land behind the fire station for future use.Spring, 2009: RVL mails/e-mails a “Special Election Alert,” under the New England Coalition for Sustainable Population banner, urging voters to vote against bond issues for a new fire station and DPW facility. More attacks on Cohen and town officials for malfeasance, and working against residents‟ interests.April, 2009: The Epsilon Group LLC, owned by developer Michael Eliopoulos, finalizes Purchase & Sale agreement with Eastern Bank for Emerson House and the land. ; Paul Cohen informed by Eastern Bank of the P&S and first learns of the intent of Epsilon Group to construct a new office building.April, 2009: Pat Maloney meets with Michael Eliopoulos and Philip Eliopoulos to ask if there was any chance the town could purchase 40 feet from the fire station to Old Town Hall. After reviewing Epsilon Group site plan, all parties determine this would not be feasible.July, 2009: Slow Growth Initiative conducts a campaign to “recall‟ the Town Manager. RVL hires signature gatherers who misrepresent the recall effort as an “anti-40B” campaign. Campaign is aborted when SGI realizes that the Town Manager cannot be recalled under Chelmsford‟s Charter.2009: RVL forms the “Better Not Bigger” Alliance to disseminate his viewpoint concerning the existence of corruption within the Town administration and governance. Since that time to the present, RVL authors and distributes (via e-mail and USPS) approximately 45 opinion pieces continually characterizing town officials as self-serving, corrupt, and worthy of recall, and encouraging public distrust of others who serve the town.October,2009: Epsilon Group files plans to construct a 15,400 sq ft office building on the former Eastern Bank property, subject to a Preservation Restriction (PR) contained within the deed. The PR identifies the Board of Selectmen as the only enforcement authority to insure PR conditions are met in the event that the land is developed. Epsilon Group seeks site plan approval from Planning Board. 4
  5. 5. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11October,2009: Attorney Peter Lawlor, sends a letter to Board of Selectmen and Planning Board about his interpretation of the Preservation Restriction and belief the BOS has the authority, not the Planning Board, to determine if the construction at 9 North Road is in compliance.November,2009: Board of Selectmen requests legal review of Preservation Restriction. Town counsel advises that the PR does not ban all future development on the site. Town counsel advises that based on the terms of the Preservation Restriction and Epsilon Group‟s project design plans, the Planning Board can approve the project.December,2009: Historic District Commission (HDC) signs off on Epsilon Group project. Attorney Peter Lawlor representing Michael Sargent, a project site abutter, files an appeal of HDC‟s approval in Lowell Superior Court.December,2009-Present: Several Better not Bigger “information” mailings/e-mails are disseminated advising residents of the “illegality” of the Epsilon Group building project. These continue to characterize the Town Manager, BOS, Philip Eliopoulos, and other officials as “corrupt and self-serving.” Several mailings/e-mails are sent urging citizens to support Planning Board/BOS recall efforts.February,2010: RVL files separate complaints against Philip Eliopoulos and Paul Cohen with the State Ethics Commission. The Ethics Commission investigates, but issues no finding. RVL requests investigation by Massachusetts Attorney General‟s office. Attorney General also issues no finding.March, 2010: Philipip Eliopoulos receives a clearing letter from the State Ethics Commission.March, 2010: Planning Board approves site plan for Epsilon Group project.March, 2010: Attorney General orders SGI and NECSP to suspend solicitation operations until both organizations register with the State as required by law.April, 2010: Attorney Lawlor files lawsuit against the Planning Board; suit filed in the Land Court.June, 2010: Attorney Lawlor files for emergency injunction in Land Court to stop site work for the Epsilon Group project. Judge Gordon Piper denies request for injunction. Epsilon Group files for building permit. 5
  6. 6. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11June, 2010: Epsilon Group project survives citizen/abutter challenge in Land Court. Court determines that plaintiffs lack standing (only Selectmen can enforce PR, see Court opinion, seq.). Court opines, “… it is likely that when the case is considered further on the merits, the court will decide that the plaintiffs, who are neighboring private landowners lack standing to enforce any aspect of the 1978 Preservation Restriction. The restriction runs to the inhabitants of the town, and the instrument vests a right of enforcement in the Board of Selectmen.” The court further indicated that even if plaintiffs had any enforceable power over the Preservation Restriction, the restriction does not bar all development on the site, it merely “regulates and controls new construction establishing standards as to, among other things, the density which the new buildings would impose on the parcel and the appearance of the development.”July, 2010: Chelmsford Building Inspector issues permit for Epsilon Group building foundation.August, 2010: Town Counsel, Epsilon Group, and Attorney Lawlor file jointly to dismiss pending litigation in Land Court.August, 2010: BOS holds public hearing on Epsilon Group construction project. BOS votes 2-1 (1 vacancy, 1 abstention) to not act to challenge the Epsilon Group project with regard to possible violation of the Preservation Restriction.November,2010: Special election to replace Selectman Sean Scanlon (resigned). Jim Lane, a Planning Board Member and Chairman of the Master Plan Review Committee is targeted by Better not Bigger as the candidate of special interest and corruption. Lane is defeated.November,2010: Better not Bigger conducts recall effort to unseat Planning Board members George Zaharoolis and Sue Carter.November,2010: Planning Board recall effort fails, for lack of signatures.January,2011: Deposition of Eastern Bank employee Tom Dunn, relative to events surrounding the purchase of 9 North Road.April, 2011: Ann McGuigan, Chairman of the Planning Board, loses re-election bid. McGuigan was attacked in several Better not Bigger mailings, being characterized as a corrupt and uncaring elected official.April, 2011: Better not Bigger conducts recall effort to unseat four BOS members: George Dixon, Matt Hanson, Jon Kurland, and Pat Wojtas. Signature effort succeeds; recall election scheduled for August 2, 2011. 6
  7. 7. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11May, 2011: Town Manager requests review of 9 North Road events by Ethics/Attorney General. (Note: As of 6/20/11, neither has issued a finding)Assertions/Statements from RVL through SGI, Better Not Bigger, andNew England Coalition for Sustainable Population:On 9 North Road:“Eastern Bank personnel have indicated that Cohen in 2009 was offered the land for thetown at no cost—that‟s right, free. But Cohen declined without notifying the Board ofSelectmen or the Community Preservation Committee or any other board.” (RVL, Better notBigger mailing)From the January 2011 Dunn Deposition:“Q. (By Mr. McClure) I‟d like to show you an article called Chelmsford Town Manager FightsBack Against Political Mailing from the Chelmsford Independent dated July 27th, 2010. If I candirect your attention to paragraph 4, Ill read it. Quote, "At no time during my communication withTom Dunn of Eastern Bank did the Bank ever offer to transfer ownership of the 9 North Roadproperty to the town of Chelmsford at no cost." He said, quote, "I have never received any suchoffer from any Eastern Bank official, nor am I aware of any such offer to the town. If such anoffer were to have been presented to me, I would have presented it to the Board of Selectmen."Did I read that accurately?A. (By Mr. Dunn) You did.Q. (McClure) What‟s your opinion of that paragraph?A. (Dunn) It‟s accurate.”The 9 North Road Preservation Restriction: RVL asserts, “The Preservation Restriction was supposed to guarantee the lot remained as openspace…” and, “The Preservation Restriction prohibits any new buildings on the property…”  Here is what the Land Court said in June, 2010: "In any event, even had they any standing to enforce the restrictions provisions, the plaintiffs would not likely prevail on the merits in that enforcement effort. The restriction does not bar all development on the site. It regulates and controls new construction, establishing standards as to, among other things, the density which the new buildings would impose on the parcel, and the outward appearance of the new structures. There is no disagreement that the proposed improvements would abide by the express dimensional limits imposed in the recorded document. This tends to show that the plaintiffs are not correct when they argue that the Preservation Restriction prohibits the project because it will curtail the use of the site for open space and conservation use. The instrument (which if at all doubtful is to be construed against being unduly restrictive) requires maintenance of a defined amount of unimproved land, and the project meets that requirement. The 7
  8. 8. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11 court should not read into the instrument an additional, unwritten restriction to keep even more land unimproved."In an attempt to convince Chelmsford residents that Epsilon Group violated the PreservationRestriction by constructing its building, RVL produced a “Fact Sheet,” Center Park on our VillageGreen. The Fact Sheet quotes the May 18, 1978 edition of the Chelmsford Newsweekly, “Asproposed by Dr. [L. Rodger] Currie…a pond will be restored with the surrounding land made into apublic park for community enjoyment. Dr. Currie has agreed to a Preservation Restriction legallyprohibiting any other use of the property in the future.”  The Preservation Restriction does not legally prohibit any other use of the property. Land Court Judge Gordon Piper on the meaning of the Preservation Restriction, June, 2010: “The restriction does not bar all development on the site. It regulates and controls new construction, establishing standards as to, among other things, the density which the new buildings would impose on the parcel, and the outward appearance of the new structures.” RVL continues to quote selectively from Judge Piper‟s comments, and never informs his audience that the Judge essentially confirmed Epsilon Group‟s interpretation of the Preservation Restriction. The Preservation Restriction does not reference the term, “Village Green.”Other Statements by Roland Van Liew:“Town Manager Cohen refuses to protect the quality of life in Chelmsford, publicly stating that he iswilling to sacrifice long-term financial stability and quality of life in exchange for the patheticallysmall amount of short-term fees and license revenue raised from new construction.”  RVL does not cite any reference to the statement. A large portion of the town‟s annual “new growth” revenue comes from renovation activities, not new construction.“(Cohen) fully supports Chapter 40B developments.”  Again, no specific quote, cite, or evidence is offered to support this statement.“Studies show that „expanding the tax base‟ drives taxes up. Sure, revenue increases, but costsincrease faster that the revenue over time. Open space is more cost effective than developedproperty.”  RVL built a brand-new house on a plot of land that, a few years earlier, had been wooded space. If his statement is true, in addition to decreasing the town‟s undeveloped land, RVL‟s “new construction development” has cost the town more than it has contributed in revenue.“Rather than making sustainability a stated goal of the Development Director position, Mr. Cohenhired a candidate with a degree in urban planning to begin the urbanization of Chelmsford.” 8
  9. 9. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11  The latest census data (2010) shows that Chelmsford lost population during the past decade. The town is largely built out, and very little developable land exists for any sort of large “urbanization” plan.Response to RVL 6/3/2011 Better Not Bigger Mailing:During the first week of June, RVL issued a town-wide mailing under the Better Not Biggerbanner. He made several statements that are not supported by the facts. Many of RVL’sstatements are reproduced here, along with appropriate responses:RVL: “The officials opposing the recall, led by [Selectman] Jon Kurland and [TownManager] Paul Cohen, have been stating for weeks now that there is “no evidence” ofethics violations by former Selectman Philip Eliopoulos, and that “nobody did anythingwrong.”Response: RVL filed complaints against Paul Cohen and Philip Eliopoulos in February 2010.The Ethics Commission issued no finding. The Commission‟s reputation for thoroughness andfollow-through is well known. If there is a hint of impropriety in any public matter brought to itsattention, their inclination is to investigate and follow through, which they did. The fact that theyhave issued no finding says, “There is no evidence of wrongdoing.”RVL: “Despite the largely successful efforts of your Selectmen to quash sworntestimony….”Response: This refers to the lawsuit currently before the Land Court. Currently pending is aMotion to Dismiss, and while that is pending, the Court has determined that it makes no senseto proceed to gather testimony until that motion is acted upon. This is standard court procedure,not the “cover up” actions that RVL tries to suggest.RVL: “One deposition was obtained in January by local Attorney Dick McClure beforethe motions to quash were taken up by the court. As a result we have as supportingevidence from that deposition, e-mails that irrefutably prove that Selectman PhilipEliopoulos was directly involved in the land deal between his family and Eastern Bankwhile he was a sitting Selectman, and while the discussion of town purchase of the landby the Town‟s Fire Station Study Committee was directly before the Board of Selectmen(BOS) in the form of reports and briefings.”Response: There is no question that Philip Eliopoulos, an attorney, represented Epsilon GroupLLC, a private company, in negotiations concerning Epsilon‟s acquisition of privately-owned(owned by Eastern Bank) property, while he was on the Board of Selectman. There is no lawprohibiting such activity. The FD/DPW Facility Study Committee presented its preliminaryfindings to the BOS in September 2007. Their report says that the current North Road HQfacility land area is too small, and that future building modifications are not feasible. The Reportrecommends that the Fire Department, “should ideally, relocate Fire Dept. HQ (Station 1) to alocation close to the current headquarters.”(page 16) Shortly thereafter, the BOS voted toauthorize a study to determine where the best location would be. It is more than reasonable toconclude, therefore, that the decision not to proceed with utilization of the current site forrenovation/reconstruction had been pretty much made, and that possibility was largely “off thetable” based on the majority decision of the committee. 9
  10. 10. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11RVL: “The third page of the accompanying insert shows the Ethics Commission letterthat Paul Cohen, Jon Kurland, and Philip Eliopoulos keep referring to as “clearing” Philipof ethics violations. The letter does no such thing.”Response: The North Road site as a Fire Dept HQ location was essentially removed fromconsideration by majority decision of the FD/DPW Facility Study Committee in September 2007,well before Philip‟s representation of Epsilon Group in the land negotiation that occurred muchlater in 2008. Philip requested a ruling from the Ethics Commission relative to his ability torepresent Epsilon Group before various town boards concerning an acquisition of privatelyowned land that the town had effectively decided in September of 2007 was of no interest as apotential site for a Fire Dept HQ expansion/renovation.RVL: “The Commission has plenty of evidence presented by ordinary citizens, but theyapparently put more credence in the Town Manager‟s statement that there is no need toexamine the evidence because „there‟s nothing there.‟”Response: There is “nothing there.” The Ethics Commission is very thorough and willundertake an inquiry if there is even the hint of a suspicion of wrongdoing by a public official.This is their function. We‟ve already shown that there was no conflict as the majority decision ofthe FD/DPW Facility Study Committee had effectively removed the North Road site fromconsideration as a site for a new/renovated Fire Dept. HQ. RVL‟s complaint to the EthicsCommission was filed in February 2010. It is not true that the Ethics Commission “did notexamine the evidence,” as RVL alleges. As part of its investigation, the Commission maycontact parties named in the complaint. When their investigation is complete, and if theydetermine that there is an ethics violation, they generally follow up with written findings. It is theEthics Commission‟s policy generally to not issue written or verbal statements on those matterswhere they do not proceed with a complaint. RVL is counting on the public‟s lack of knowledgeof how Ethics investigations work, and this allows him to pretend that the Ethics Commissiondropped its investigation solely on the Town Manager‟s word. That is not how they operate.They decide based on the evidence before them if a matter is worth pursuing, and if it is, theygo forward.RVL: “There are…items of evidence that show unequivocally that the matter of thepurchase and utilization of “9 North Road” was “before the town” for years prior to thepurchase in 2009 by the Eliopoulos consortium (Epsilon LLC). That‟s no“misinformation,” it‟s hard evidence.”Response: True, but the 9 North Road site was no longer being considered as of September2007 by majority decision of the FD/DPW Facility Study Committee (see above). 10
  11. 11. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11RVL: “Yet Philip Eliopoulos has told the Ethics Commission as well as all of us in publicstatements that he did not represent [Epsilon Group] LLC regarding any matter that hadbeen “before the town” while has was a Selectman. In fact, he is in violation of stateethics laws that prevent former officials from representing clients—and certainly familymembers—before town boards for a least a year after leaving office (MGL C.268A,Sec.18).”Response: Massachusetts General Law prevents former Selectmen from appearing before theBoard of Selectmen within a year after leaving the Board for matters that were previously beforethe Board of Selectmen during their term. 9 North Road was not before the Board while PhilipEliopoulos served a Selectmen and neither did he appear before the Board of Selectmen on thismatter during the year following his service to the town. We‟ve also established that theFD/DPW Facility Study Committee Report recommended that the town pursue an alternativesite for the Fire Dept. HQ in September of 2007, well before Philip‟s representation of EpsilonGroup in the land purchase. The only person in violation of MGL Chapt. 268A, Sec. 18 may beDick McClure, who, when he was acting as RVL‟s attorney, was admonished by Judge HermanSmith, Jr. during a court hearing concerning the recent recall petition activity. Smith said thatMcClure‟s participation in the matter before the court was inappropriate because McClure is amember of the Town‟s Planning Board (a municipal employee/public official).RVL: “…the Eliopoulos edifice …has obliterated what is supposed to be “an open spaceconservation area” for the benefit of all Chelmsford residents.”Response: Here is what the Land Court said on this issue in June, 2010: “The restriction does notbar all development on the site. It regulates and controls new construction, establishing standardsas to, among other things, the density which the new buildings would impose on the parcel, and theoutward appearance of the new structures. There is no disagreement that the proposedimprovements (the “Eliopoulos edifice”) would abide by the express dimensional limits imposed inthe recorded document. This tends to show that the plaintiffs are not correct when they argue thatthe Preservation Restriction prohibits the project because it will curtail the use of the site for openspace and conservation use. The instrument (which if at all doubtful is to be construed againstbeing unduly restrictive) requires maintenance of a defined amount of unimproved land, and theproject meets that requirement. The court should not read into the instrument an additional,unwritten restriction to keep even more land unimproved." It‟s pretty clear that RVL wantseveryone to think that the Preservation Restriction prohibits the type and size building that EpsilonGroup constructed. It‟s pretty clear that the Land Court thinks otherwise. 11
  12. 12. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11RVL: “…the land behind center fire station <could have been> owned by the town foraround $50,000 to $100,000. But the BOS including Philip Eliopoulos, who was directlyinvolved with Eastern Bank negotiations for that same property on behalf of his father MikeEliopoulos, voted to instead pursue a new fire station at Wilson Street (the “ball fieldboondoggle”) on March 23, 2009.”Response: First, The BOS vote RVL mentions was a vote only to accept the report of the FD/DPWFacility Study Committee. A vote to accept a report does not mean that the report‟s conclusions areaccepted. No decisions were made regarding the options presented in the report. In fact, PhilipEliopoulos said at the March 23 meeting that it would be the future BOS that would determine thenext steps for the projects, because this meeting was his last before the April, 2009 election. Novote to pursue a new fire station at Wilson Street was taken on March 23.Second, Mr. Dunn states in his January 2011 deposition that Eastern Bank had an offer for $480Kfor the entire North Road parcel, which included the Emerson House, the pond, and the land behindthe fire station. $100K would only have bought a portion of that land, and Mr. Dunn makes it quiteclear in his deposition that the Bank was not interested in carving up the property. He had an offeron the table for $480K. He was not about to cancel that offer by reconfiguring the property so hecould sell a piece of it to the town for $50K to $100K. RVL‟s statements that the town could haveeffectively nullified Epsilon Group‟s offer for the entire parcel by agreeing to buy only a small portionof it for a much lower sum are wishful thinking at best, and certainly not supported by any facts, andare, in fact contradicted by Mr. Dunn‟s sworn testimony. Ultimately, Epsilon Group paid $480K forthe building and land, which was based on an appraisal commissioned by the Bank.RVL: “Jon Kurland states that money was tight for that $100,000 purchase.”Response: What $100K purchase? RVL keeps talking about a “$100K purchase,” which, as shownabove, is a figment of his imagination. The Bank never offered any land to the town for $100K, andhis characterization of that fictitious event as if it actually happened is grossly misleading. Hisstatement also contradicts RVL‟s previous claim that the Bank had offered the land to the town atno cost.RVL: “Philip has stated that he „contacted the state Ethics Commission before becominginvolved with the building project.‟ But the permitting process in late 2009, and the landpurchase negotiations in late 2008 and 2009, were clearly activities that were not clearedwith the Ethics Commission, a clear violation of MGL C268, Sec. 17 and MGL C268A, Sec. 19.In fact, it‟s obvious that Eliopoulos hid those violations from the Ethics Commission. But hecouldn‟t hide them from Paul Cohen. Unfortunately, Cohen chose not to report thoseviolations to the Ethics Commission…”Response: We‟ve already explained that the North Road site was no longer being considered bythe FD/DPW Facility Study Committee as an option for the fire station, although Paul Cohen andPat Maloney continued to research options for purchasing the land for future use and considerationby the BOS.. Philip was free to represent Epsilon Group in a deal involving that site afterSeptember 2007; no ethics laws were violated. Philip sought advice from the Ethics Commissionconcerning his ability to represent Epsilon Group before town Boards, during the permittingprocess, well after September 2007, and the Ethics Commission said that he could do so, andissued him the clearing letter that is currently on the town‟s web site. 12
  13. 13. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11RVL: “Paul Cohen has asked, “our struggle is, how do we prove our innocence?” It‟ssimple! Allow formal inquiry, that is testimony under oath, so people can‟t lie.”Response: Mr. Cohen asked both the Ethics Commission and the Attorney General‟s office toinvestigate the 9 North Road land acquisition deal.RVL: “Cohen has committed gross malfeasance in facilitating the 9 North Road scandal,and the Board of Selectmen refuse to uphold the law or allow a formal inquiry.”Response: Mr. Cohen has requested a formal inquiry by the Ethics Commission and the AttorneyGeneral‟s office. Mr. Cohen has facilitated nothing; the 9 North Road site as a location for anew/renovated Fire Dept. HQ was no longer being considered by the FD/DPW Facility StudyCommittee as an option for the fire station, although Paul Cohen and Pat Maloney continued toresearch options for purchasing the land for future use and consideration by the BOS.. The dealbetween Eastern Bank and Group LLC was a private land acquisition.RVL: “…there was no discussion or sense of urgency regarding the property behind thefire station < during the March 23, 2009 Selectman‟s meeting where the final Fire StationProposal was reviewed>.Response: There was no discussion or sense of urgency because the site was no longer beingconsidered by the FD/DPW Facility Study Committee as an option for the fire station, although PaulCohen and Pat Maloney continued to research options for purchasing the land for future use andconsideration by the BOS. . The mention of the site as a possible location was part of apresentation detailing the FD/DPW Facility Study Committee‟s due diligence efforts, which, prior toSeptember 2007, included considering the property behind the Fire Dept, HQ. That was presentedas one of the options that was looked at, but but was no longer being considered by the committeeas an option for the fire station, although Paul Cohen and Pat Maloney continued to researchoptions for purchasing the land for future use and consideration by the BOS.RVL: “Jon Kurland—a trained lawyer perfectly capable of examining <documents pertainingto Epsilon‟s purchase of land from Eastern Bank and related exhibits>, as well as thetestimony of Dunn—maintains that the deposition actually clears everyone and that “nobodydid anything wrong.”Response: A complete and impartial reading of all the documents pertaining to these eventsconfirms Mr. Cohen‟s version of the events. A copy of the Dunn Deposition and other documentsreferenced herein may be found on the Town‟s website. 13
  14. 14. Timeline FINAL 6-20-11EDITORS:If you have any questions regarding this information, or would like to arrange interviews withTown Manager Paul Cohen, members of the Board of Selectmen, or Town citizens to discuss,please contact:Joanne StanwayPR Chair / Choose Chelmsford978-273-1473jstanway@comcast.netorStefani Bush and Angelo Taranto, Choose Chelmsford**Diagrams, meeting Minutes and other documents are available for your review and use. 14