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Builder's seat on Planning Board in Wheatfield under investigation

Developer Gary DiMatteo's seat on the town Planning Board as well as some of his voting on specific projects will be investigated by the town attorney for possible conflicts of interest.

Attorney Robert O'Toole told the Town Board on Tuesday that he will review state laws related to DiMatteo's position on the board as well as his voting record on projects with which he was involved. O'Toole said he also would determine if the situation should be turned over to the town ethics committee.

Moyer Road resident Pierre Carrier presented O'Toole with a printed request that the issue be reviewed. The request stated that DiMatteo, who has been on the board for 14 years, may have had a conflict of interest when he voted on or discussed some development proposals that came to the Planning Board. DiMatteo was not present at the meeting.

One project is Briars of Shawnee, formerly known as Shawnee Meadows. The subdivision, located on an 85-acre site off Shawnee Road, is being developed by GMD Development, DiMatteo's company. DiMatteo purchased the property from developer Robert Weaver, who also is his partner in another subdivision project, Hillcrest.

Carrier's request stated that DiMatteo voted on the project five years before owning it but abstained from voting on it last January. The Planning Board meeting minutes did not indicate whether DiMatteo refrained from the discussion of the development.

Planning Board Chairman Richard Muscatello said he has always recommended that DiMatteo not only abstain but leave the board table and sit in the audience when the board discusses a project he owns.

Muscatello added that he contacted the state about the issue and was told planning boards are advised to have a contractor or developer as a member but that person should abstain from voting on matters regarding personal or financial involvement.

Supervisor Timothy E. Demler said DiMatteo's seat on the board has always been "a good question" and his reappointment was not a unanimous decision by the Town Board. He said when the appointment was made, there may have been no conflicts but "something may have come up" since then.

O'Toole promised he will complete his end of the investigation by the next meeting Dec. 10.

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