Documents recently obtained from Eastern Bank (seller of the “9 North Road” parcel to the Eliopoulos family) now conclusively show that Phil Eliopoulos, while a sitting selectman, represented his father Michael Eliopoulos in December of 2008 and into the spring of 2009, negotiating the purchase of the property behind Center Fire Station.
They also show that the land was not under agreement, as Town Manager Paul Cohen has claimed, and the town had every opportunity to obtain the land from the bank had Cohen acted on his knowledge of the Eliopoulos’ intent to purchase the property in February 2009. Instead, Cohen told no one, simply marking the property as “no longer available” in a Permanent Buildings Committee report.
The documents show that, despite his assertions that he violated no ethics requirements, Eliopoulos is guilty of violating multiple ethics laws as well as multiple provisions of the Chelmsford Code of Ethics.
The documents also indicate that Town Counsel (Kopelman & Paige) is also guilty of multiple conflicts of interest and should have withdrawn from representing any government entities regarding the “Epsilon LLC” project on our historic Village Green. But Kopelman & Paige continue to represent the Planning Board, the Board of Selectmen, the Town Manager, and the Building Inspector despite ongoing poor advice and conflicts of interest.
The Board of Selectmen has publicly acknowledged receiving poor advice from Town Counsel. The Selectmen are fully aware that Town Manager Cohen shielded all town boards and committees from any knowledge of the Eliopoulos’ plans for our Village Green for a good six months in early 2009. The selectmen are now fully aware that the Eliopoulos’ project violates the Preservation Restriction’s requirement that the property remain “an openspace conservation area and pond,” and that no structures shall be erected “except barnlike structures and silo which shall generally present the exterior appearance of farm buildings and barns” and “small structures similar in nature and appearance to the farm out buildings that formerly existed.” The Preservation restriction also requires that any adaptation of use must be “for the aesthetic improvement of the neighborhood and the Town.”
The Preservation Restriction is a legal property interest that I, you, and every resident of the town holds on that property. But Massachusetts law does not allow us to sue to enforce it; only the Board of Selectmen can do that.
So, what have the Selectmen done about the ethics violations of our Town Manager and Town Counsel? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The Selectmen still steadfastly refuse to uphold the law and bring the interpretation of the Preservation Restriction before a judge on our behalf. And, rather than initiating a formal investigation into the unlawful conduct of our Town Manager and former selectman Phil Eliopoulos, they recently voted the Town Manager a 2% raise! It’s apparently not important that the Town Manager’s malfeasance and Town Counsel's complicity has cost us not only our historic Village Green, but also any opportunity to keep Center Fire Station open at a reasonable cost.
I have therefore filed a complaint with the state Board of Bar Overseers to initiate a formal investigation into the activities of Phil Eliopoulos and Town Counsel. The complaint speaks for itself. It can be viewed at http://www.betterchelmsford.com/Bar Counsel Letter.pdf. Supporting documents can be viewed at http://www.betterchelmsford.com/BBO-Docs.pdf
Yours with best wishes and hope for the future of our town,
Roland Van Liew