Louis Perillo III, , will no longer be involved in any discussions regarding long-term planning of the West Street corridor.
The ad hoc member of the town’s West Street subcommittee agreed to step down from his role an advisor to the committee on Monday following heavy criticism from the public, who expressed concerns last week that he has a financial stake in one of the properties along West Street in the area targeted for a 20-year development plan.
“After receiving comments from a half dozen members of the community during , the issue was reviewed again today with (Town Attorney) Mark Sciota,” said Paul Chaplinsky, chairman of the subcommittee, early Monday evening.
“(Sciota) was in agreement that there was no conflict of interest, but in the interest of public perception, we felt it was best not to have Perillo be an ad hoc member due to the concern.”
Perillo said last week that he has never hid his interest in one of the properties and disclosed that interest before accepting the ad hoc position. As an ad hoc member, Perillo was able to provide input during discussions but was not a voting member of the committee.
Perillo could not be reached for additional comment on Monday evening.
The apparent controversy developed during Thursday’s public input session, when several residents along West Street angrily expressed concern over his interest in a residentially zoned area that abuts the Forestville Fishing Club. The property is owned by Bagno, LLC, a group Perillo formed with Frank Fragola.
Robert Gagnon, a resident of Sandy Pines Drive, brought the issue to light, questioned this ownership stake and asked that he step down from discussions, which led to an applause from members of the audience.
“I understand he doesn’t have a vote, but the committee is voting based on his advice. I don’t think he should be sitting up there at all,” Gagnon said.
When the subcommittee was first formed after Milone and MacBroom, a development consultant firm based in Cheshire, presented their analysis and recommendation to the Planning and Zoning Commission , Chaplinsky said they approached Perillo and asked him to be an ad hoc member to address any economic development questions that members might have.
Sciota has said during several public meetings before the Southington Town Council that Perillo disclosed his interest and the circumstances were reviewed prior to him taking the ad hoc position.
With Perillo having no vote following discussions and his property representing only a very small portion of the larger corridor study, there was no conflict of interest concerns per the town’s established ethics code, Sciota said.
“To this point, he has had little input. We received criticism for having an outside consultant provide a recommendation, but the decision was made because we wanted to hear from the consultants to prevent any appearance of it being a biased vision,” Chaplinsky said. “If we had done it the other way around, people would have asked why our vision was the main focus of the plan.”
“I feel bad for having ever put Lou (Perillo) in this position and we do not want any interruptions in this effort, so we asked him to step down. He was understanding and I need to make it clear that he never did anything wrong,” he said.
The subcommittee will now turn to Sciota and Garry Brumback with any questions related to economic development.