Published April 22. 2014 9:00AM Updated April 23. 2014 12:12AM
Montville — An ethics complaint has been filed against four Democratic town councilors who voted to amend an ordinance that decreases the required buffer between vendors and businesses that sell similar products.
Independence for Montville Chairman James Andriote Sr. filed the complaint last Tuesday, a day after the vote, saying that change in the ordinance amounts to political favoritism and alleges that the change really benefits only “one individual,” former Democratic Town Councilor Gary Murphy, who owns a hot dog cart.
“There was not a petition from town taxpayers asking for the change,” the complaint said. “It’s a fact, the members mentioned in my complaint, are not listening to the Economic Development Commission, the Zoning and Planning Commission and the Town Planner, all of which have recommended not changing the Ordinance.”
In the 4-2 vote, the council amended an ordinance regulating peddlers and vendors by allowing them to sell goods within 500 feet of a business selling similar items, significantly shrinking the original one-mile buffer zone.
During the public hearing held before the council meeting, many town officials opposed to the changes said they would have accepted a half-mile buffer zone or an ordinance with regulations to compensate for possible traffic hazards.
Voting in favor were Democrats Billy Caron, Tim May, Laura Tanner and Chuck Longton. Council Chairman Joseph Jaskiewicz did not attend. Republican Tom McNally and Independence for Montville member Kathy Pollard both voted no.
In the complaint, Andriote said he believes the ordinance will hurt businesses who pay taxes in the town.
Jaskiewicz on Tuesday scoffed at the notion that the council voted on the ordinance to help Murphy.
“They did everything right,” Jaskiewicz said. “They sent it to committee, to the Economic Development Commission. They voted the way they felt was right. They didn’t act inappropriately, and this has nothing to do with one guy.”
Jaskiewicz said he sent Andriote’s complaint to the town attorney, who will investigate whether there was an ethics violation.
Normally, it’s the duty of the Town Council to investigate an ethics violation, per the town’s charter.
Andriote is asking for an outside attorney to investigate his ethics complaint since he feels there would be a conflict of interest if the Town Council or town attorney, who works for the council, investigates his allegations.
“You can say that I’m costing the Taxpayers thousands of dollars. ... I believe one part of the Taxpayers (the Business Owners) will feel it’s money worth spending to help stop something that they have been against all along,” Andriote said.