YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Former supervisor Susan Siegel (2010-11) has filed an ethics complaint against fellow former supervisor Michael Grace (2012-17).
The complaint, dated July 18, alleges that Grace, less than a year removed from office, represented Breslin Realty before the Planning Board two days earlier. According to Siegel, this is a violation of the “revolving door” section of the town’s ethics code, which reads:
“It shall be a presumptive conflict of interest for any former elected town official, within one year after leaving office, to represent another person or corporation before any town body.” §45-5 (I)
Grace, an attorney with offices across the street from town hall, confirmed to Yorktown News that he did represent Breslin Realty, which owns the property where Lowe’s is being built. The dispute centers around Breslin connecting neighboring homeowners to the sewer line that will service Lowe’s.
Neighbors say that Breslin, in legal documents relating to its site plan, agreed to make the connections. Grace, however, said the language is ambiguous. The two sides have been directed by the Planning Board to work out a settlement.
Siegel said that Grace, as town supervisor, voted in favor of the creation of the Hunterbrook Sewer Extension District, which “included the provision for Breslin Realty to provide sewers to the 12 properties along Old Crompond Road.”
“But now, acting on behalf of the interests of Breslin Realty,” Siegel wrote, “Mr. Grace is denying what was the clear intent of the Town Board when he voted to create the sewer district.”
Though he is representing Breslin Realty in the matter, Grace said there is “no conflict” of interest.
“I may be an attorney, but I was not the town’s attorney—there’s a huge distinction,” Grace said.
Grace said there are many exceptions to the ethics code Siegel cited in her complaint.
“As an elected official, I don’t sign a non-compete with the town,” Grace said. “It would have a chilling effect on the electoral process if that were the case.”
He said Breslin Realty has a right to choose its own representation.
“It’s complete and utter nonsense,” Grace said. “You have right to your own representation and the town can’t preclude you from having that representation.”
Though the Ethics Board, whose members are appointed by the Town Board, reviews complaints and renders decisions, it can only suggest punishment for offenders. The Town Board is not required to follow the suggestions.
Because the Breslin Realty dispute is time-sensitive, Siegel said, she requested the Ethics Board render a decision on her complaint as soon as possible.