Corruption, Collusion and Lies Mar Inland Wetlands, Peer Reviewer in Costco Application

  • 55
  • 15 min to read
Shapiro and Inland Wetlands

A series of documents, emails and phone records obtained by BranfordSeven.com details a timeline that includes collusion of town officials and peer reviewers, doctored documents and misinformation to the law firm and engineering firm representing Costco.

The records show clearly that Diana Ross, who runs the Inland Wetlands Department, worked with Milone and McBroom, who was hired by the town to conduct a peer review of the Costco application, and Inland Wetlands Commission Daniel Shapiro to greatly edit the most recent peer review report; that she lied about when it was received, and delayed it’s production as she and Shapiro made sure their edits and changes were part of the filings, drastically changing the tone and direction of the analysis.

Milone and McBroom, meanwhile, willingly allowed and incorporated the changes, adding them to their reports and altering their findings, all while sending increasing costs and fees that Costco would be required to pay for.

The alterations that Milone and McBroom added to their reports at the request of Shapiro and Ross closely mirror the claims and statements made by the Branford Citizens for Responsible Development (BCRD), the group led by Penny Bellamy that is fighting the proposed Costco development.

Shapiro has started every Inland Wetland hearing speaking on the need to be transparent and ethical in their proceedings as the case may be appealed. To that end, he ruled, on his own, that the peer reviewer, Milone and McBroom, would not be allowed to discuss the Costco application with the applicant, and that all interactions must be done publicly or through Ross’ office.

Prior to the most recent Inland Wetlands Commission meeting, Milone and McBroom was working on the latest peer review document, which would include analysis of some modifications made by Costco as a result of collaboration with Land Tech, the expert hired by the Branford Land Trust.

Adding “average” Costco

Initial questions were raised regarding one particular item in the most recent report uploaded to the town website on March 9. In that filing, it states that “staff” requested Milone and McBroom look at a small? Costco proposal, and used the size of 143,000, the average size posted on their corporate website. If accurate as written, it would be an issue: “staff” had no right to actually commission the peer reviewer to do or research anything, as that was the stead of the full Commission.

Ross clearly knew this; when asked why she asked the peer reviewer to include it, she stated it was at the request of the Commission. When further questioned, she replied “read the transcripts.”

We found no such thing in the transcripts or meeting minutes.

On his own, chairman Shapiro prohibited the parties (peer review Milone and McBroom and the Applicant, Costco) from meeting or interacting at all, and that all communication be through Ross. As is typical for peer review, Costco would pay for the Peer review, with the peer review would analyze what Costco filed with the town.

At the February Inland Wetland meeting, it was clear that Costco was making headway with two of the other “experts” involved: LandTech, hired by the Branford Land Trust, and Milone and McBroom. In fact, in their most recent filing, Milone and McBroom state that they “have eliminated the prior comments and responses from this letter for clarity since the majority of those comments have now been adequately addressed. A few have not been adequately addressed, but in many instances, the design has evolved in such a manner that our concerns are much more narrowly focused at this point.”

Considering this, Costco believed the process with the peer review was near its conclusion.

Records show, however, that on February 26, Ross began raising new items, requesting analysis from Milone and McBroom that had never been raised at the Commission hearings outside of the BCRD, who was fighting the project. One of those items was making the building smaller, a proposal that opponents knew would essentially kill the project (the average size Costco on its corporate site includes all of their facilities, including former Price Clubs, which were about 120,000 square feet. In the last decade or so, Costco’s have been close to the proposed size in Branford, 158,000 square feet.)

Ross’s request is specific: “The Corporate Profile on line (attached) identifies that the average building size of a COSTCO is 143,800 square feet.  If this building were reduced to the average size, with appropriate reduction in parking area, how far away could the disturbance from the wetland/ponds/watercourse on the eastern side of the site be moved to?  It might be a significant improvement for a minor decrease in building size.”

On March 1, Darin Overton of Milone and McBroom responds with the obvious: a smaller building means less parking demands, and thus more room between a potential structure and wetlands.

The next day, March 2, Ross emails back, encouraging Overton to include the analysis as part of the peer review, despite it never having been raised by the Commission. She makes a judgement call she has little right to make, stating “Yes, this is the kind of thing I believe the commission expected as part of consideration of prudent and feasible alternatives, those that would propose less impact.”

Timeline of Peer Review

The initial notes on the peer review do not contain the look at a smaller facility Ross wanted added. At the request of Ross, Milone and McBroom actually send her their notes and outline for the peer review.

March 3 1:28 pm. Milone and McBroom sends notes for their peer review to Ross. He states “Don’t share too much though.”

Here is that document.

March 3 3:19 pm. Ross responds to peer review notes “Looks good so far. I used track changes and added a couple of comments/ questions.”

We could not find a copy of the document with the tracked changes in our request. It is possible it was faxed or sent in some other manner. In any event, Bill Root, of Milone and McBroom, actually wonders what else can be looked at as Ross pushes for more.

March 3 4:04 pm.  “So far????? How much farther can I go?? Tough to substantiate indirect impacts. Still, if they don’t substantiate why it’s OK to decrease state/town-recommended buffers inside 100’ why do we have to substantiate why 40’ is better than 20 feet.  Chat tomorrow…Bill.”

Amazingly, Ross answers that question by citing case law on how to be sure a denial of the application will hold up in court.

March 3 5:01 pm.  Ross writes, in part, “Below is an excerpt from former Asst. AG Janet Brooks comments on this case.  If an expert does not make the connection of an action to an impact then the commission cannot rely on that opinion when making a decision.  In this case knowing that toxic chemicals would enter the wetland was not sufficient for denial.  The expert needed to explain how the toxic chemicals impacted the physical characteristics of the wetland in a negative way.  It is ridiculous because you know it is obvious, but most judges don’t seem to have a good background in science so you need to make it understandable for a fifth grader.”

Ross includes case River Bend Associates, Inc. v. Conservation & Inland Wetlands Commission, 269 Conn. 57 (2004), then concludes her notes to Root stating that “The expert must explain how the discharge of chemicals causes harm to the wetlands in order for this reason to hold up in court.”

March 3 2:44 pm Milone and McBroom send a new invoice to Ross, to be paid for by Costco for continuing the peer review. The total is an additional $4,500, in additiona to the initial costs of $18,500.

March 7 4:06 pm Michele Carlson, of BL Companies, for Costco, emails a request for the peer review (she states she was told it would be ready Monday morning.)

March 7 4:19 pm "Michele, I spoke with Darin Overton about 15 minutes ago.  It is being proofed and typed up, so it will be tomorrow morning. Diana"

Diana Ross then receives the peer review from Milone and McBroom, with her additions and edits included. With the peer review, Darin Overton actually offers to incorporate more of Ross comments into the document.

Here is that document.

March 7 4:54 pm Diana, a draft is attached for review.  We will have to attach Bill’s photo log to this for the final.  Let me know if you have any comments and I will incorporate them tomorrow and final the letter. Thanks. Darin L. Overton, P.E., Associate.

The next morning, March 8, Ross emails the document to Daniel Shapiro.

Soon after, Darin Overton emails Ross, asking if he should wait for her comments to add to the peer review.

March 8 10:51 AM "Diana, I read through the letter again last night and marked up some minor rewording and grammatical changes.  Do you have any comments or should I final the letter? Darin"

Now, with the peer review in Ross’ hands already, Carlson (Costco) again requests the peer review in an email dated 11:28. The request is copied to town attorney Bill Aniskovich.

Two minutes later, Ross emails Milone and McBroom again, this time attaching a copy of the peer review with significant changes, handwritten notes and sections crossed out.

March 8 11:30 AM "Darin & Bill, We have read quickly through.  Chairman Shapiro and I went over it and I included comments. You won’t be able to make sense of some of them, sort of scribbled. Statements to the IWC as to what their responsibility is during review crossed out.  We want just the facts and expert (engineering, wetland) opinions. Please look over it and then give me a call so we can discuss. Thank you, Diana Ross."

Here is that document.

Ross then lies to Carlson, Aniskovich and others copied on the email looking for the peer review.

March 8 1:10 PM "Michelle, They are still working on it, so later today. Diana."

Carlson again asks for the peer review at 4:27 PM. Ten minutes later, Ross responds.

March 8 4:37 "Michele, I just spoke with Darin.  He is finished with his portion so it will be typed up tomorrow morning. Bill Root was out all day and just got in the office, so he will be working tonight and hopefully finish before he leaves tonight. Unfortunately, it won’t be ready until tomorrow morning (I hope). Diana Ross"

That night, at 9:01 pm, Milone and McBroom email Ross to tell her they have incorporated all of the changes from her and Shapiro.

March 8 9:01 pm  "Diana, I coordinated with Bill and we finished all the recommended changes.  I also took all the opinion text out of my part of the document in an effort to just stick to the facts and leave the burden on the applicant to prove that their design works.  Once complete and satisfactory information is provided then I guess there simply won’t be any further comments.  I hope that we have picked up everything.  I will be out of the office tomorrow, so I’m relying on our administrative staff to complete the letter and send it over to you.  I’m hoping Bill will be in to assist. Darin L. Overton, P.E., Associate"

The next morning, Michele Carlson has still not been sent the peer review with Ross and Shapiro have had for almost 2 days.

3/9 10:45  "Hi Diana, Just checking to see if the Milone and MacBroom review letter is ready.   On Monday, we had understood the letter was being typed and proofed for delivery yesterday.  Your note last night indicates it was being typed and that additional content was being prepared for delivery today.  Please let us know when we can expect to receive it. We look forward to receiving it as soon as it is available.  Thank you, Michele."

At 11:36, Chairman Shapiro emails Ross, specifically requesting if the “revised” peer review is available.

March 9, 11:36 am. Shapiro to Ross: “Hows it going today?  Anything new?  Revised doc from Millone & McB?”

March 9, 3:42 pm. Final draft sent from Milone and McBroom to Ross.

Here is that document.

Soon after, Diana Ross sends the peer review to her assistant to be uploaded to the town website. It is dated March 9. Neither the March 7 peer review nor the notes sent to Ross a week earlier never get posted or shared with the applicant. Ross list of changes, the case law given to guide the review, nor any emails between the peer reviewer and Ross dealing with the changes by Ross and Shapiro are posted publicly.

At 4:23, Ross sends an email to one person letting her know the peer review is now available. That person is Penny Bellamy, the leader of the BCRD.

What are the changes?

Changes to the peer review as prompted by Ross and Shapiro fall into two categories: simple typo’s, and major changes to the review. To support this, we will post entire texts, both what was deleted, and what it was replaced with. We will not post every example here due to space and the complexity of the changes, but will do so in separate articles.

Example 1. – The changes from Shapiro and Ross add additional language to increase potential impacts downstream.  

Original text: Inspection showed recent high water marks approximating the through capacity of the crossing. Increases in peak flow are likely to negatively impact the stability and safety of this crossing. The effect of volumetric increases are unknown since the design capacity of the crossing is unknown.

Altered Text: MMI observed recent high water marks approximating the through capacity of the bridge crossing. Any increases in peak flow rates are likely to negatively impact the stability and safety of this crossing as well as cause erosion that would contribute to sedimentation of the pond. The effects of volumetric increases are unknown since the design capacity of the crossing is unknown.

Example 2. – Shapiro and Ross specifically remove a suggestion to seek out the town attorneys opinion on a matter. The issue was potential alternatives: Costco had presented alternatives at the PDD level hearings, and MM was asking if those alternatives satisfy the Inland Wetlands look at possible alternatives. This is key, as the BCRD is arguing the building should be smaller.

Original text: MMI raised this topic under its review of direct wetland impacts from the proposed internal roadway and the selected box culvert crossing. At that time, the applicant responded that the internal roadway was a requirement of the PDD approval and also presented a variety of box store and parking arrangements very similar in configuration to the existing submittal. The Commission may wish to refer this matter to its Counsel as to whether these responses are adequate to comply with the statutory requirement.

Altered Text: Milone & MacBroom, Inc. (MMI) raised this topic under its review of direct wetland impacts from the proposed internal roadway and the selected box culvert crossing. At that time, the applicant responded that the internal roadway was a requirement of the planned development district (PDD) approval and also presented a variety of box store and parking arrangements very similar in configuration to the existing submittal. The commission must judge whether these responses are adequate to comply with the statutory requirement.

Example 3.  – The changing of a single word changes the impact of the improvements Costco is making to wetlands. Consider changing the word “improved” to “conserved.”

Original text: North of the box culvert and west of the stream, several large trees will be impacted by construction of the retaining wall. This area constitutes one of the closest approaches to the wetland boundary. Wetland habitat will be improved by saving the two red maples here. These trees will better augment wetland functions and values here, especially wildlife habitat, if they are better protected by providing another 15 to 20 feet of riparian buffer. However, the catalpa tree at wet flag #89 is less valuable to the wetland. It can be removed.

Altered Text: North of the box culvert and west of the stream, several large trees will be impacted by construction of the retaining wall. This area constitutes one of the closest approaches to the wetland boundary. Wetland habitat will be conserved by saving the two red maples here. These trees will better augment wetland functions and values, especially wildlife habitat, if they are better protected by providing another 15 to 20 feet of riparian buffer. However, the catalpa tree at wetland flag 89 is less valuable to the wetland. It can be removed.

Example 4. – Multiple times, the altered document replaces “may” with “will likely” when referring to potential impacts.

Original text: The Engineering Reports indicate a reduction in contributory watershed to these two wetlands, which may have long-term, negative effects. For example, although most of the wetland plants are facultative (adapted to seasonal changes in hydrology), the loss of so much of the contributory watershed will shift the vegetative suite toward species that are more upland in character.

Altered text: The Engineering Reports indicate a reduction in contributory watershed to these two wetlands, which will likely have long-term, negative effects – changing the trajectory of the two wetlands. For example, although many of the wetland plants are facultative (adapted to seasonal changes in hydrology), the loss of so much of the contributory watershed will shift the vegetative suite away from wetland species toward species that are more upland in character.

Example 5. – The entire opening portion of the report is removed, which states that overall water quality issues have been addressed and suggesting that only post development testing will confirm the methods.

Original text: Overall, it is our professional opinion that water quality has been suitably addressed in the application through the use of multiple treatment practices in series. While calculations have been provided regarding removal percentages, those calculations should be considered an approximate representation based on a chosen method of computing them. While the validity of method chosen could be argued and there may be other methods available that are considered more accurate, the fact is that the results of these calculations vary widely and only post development testing would provide real confirmation.

Altered Text: The entire above section has been removed.

There are significant areas altered and changed, most notably the conclusion. Any areas where Milone and McBroom states “in their view” or any indication it is an opinion is removed to make the statements look like fact. Multiple times the initial letter suggested weighing the impacts of the development against the financial gains it may bring, Shapiro and Ross eliminated those.

Overall the changes initiated by Ross and Shapiro exaggerate potential impacts and minimize any improvements. But nowhere is it as bad as the conclusion.

Example 6

Original text: In summary, we believe that there are wetland impacts proposed and potential alternatives that the commission needs to consider and balance against the economic development benefits of the project.

Altered text: In summary, there are wetland impacts proposed and potential alternatives that warrant consideration.

Keep in mind that creating a fog of potential alternatives is the exact plan of attack for the BCRD in fighting this. While the initial draft proposed a balanced approach, the revised draft pushes alternatives, which include moving the gas station or making the store smaller, both with would are not likely to be accepted by Costco. If the BCRD, and clearly Shapiro and Ross, can make the Commission approve only a smaller plan, it will like kill the project, which appears to be the goal.

Example 7

Original text: Efforts have been made to minimize impacts and where appropriate provide for enhancement of buffers and other mitigation efforts to maintain protection of the wetlands. As for stormwater management, we believe that the water quality aspects of the design have been adequately addressed, but some additional detail should be presented to confirm the stormwater basin designs.

Altered text: Efforts have been made to minimize impacts, provide for enhancement of buffers where appropriate, and present other mitigation efforts to maintain protection of the wetlands. As for stormwater management, several water quality design elements have been incorporated into the proposed development, but some additional detail must be presented to confirm the stormwater basin designs, and appropriate calculations should be submitted to support the design.

Notice how the initial wording states water quality has been “adequately addressed,” the altered version states simply that some water quality design elements have been incorporated into the design.

Example 8

Original text: If this is adequately addressed and the goal of zero increase in peak rates of runoff is still achieved with some level of infiltration included in the design where appropriate, we believe that the design has adequately provided protection to downstream resources. There has been a lot of discussion about mitigating developed condition volume increases, and a reasonable amount of soil testing has been done to support the limitations of the native soils to infiltrate stormwater. At this point, we believe that the applicant has adequately demonstrated that their ability to reduce stormwater volumes is limited to what is currently proposed. In addition, the downstream channels show no signs of abnormal erosion, and they appear adequately stable to pass an increase in stormwater volume.

Altered text: If these remaining issues are adequately addressed and if the goal of zero increase in peak rates of runoff is still achieved with some level of infiltration included in the design where appropriate, then the issue of downstream impacts can be properly evaluated. There has been a lot of discussion about mitigating developed condition volume increases, which are principally achieved through infiltration. A reasonable amount of soil testing has been done to determine the characteristics of the native soils. At this point, the applicant should summarize this information, confirm any postdevelopment volume increases, and clearly explain why further volume reduction cannot be achieved. For any increases in volume, an explanation should be provided regarding the ability of downstream resources to withstand the changes.

The altered text here completely changes the conclusion of the report. Initially, the report concluded the efforts addressed issues and were reasonable. In the altered version, there is demand for more information, explaining issues that have been detailed multiple times, and basically provide more work than any applicant has ever been asked to do.

What Next?

Certainly some of the above is confusing, but put simply, Diana Ross and Daniel Shapiro received the peer review, lied about receiving it to others who had a right to know, held an ongoing dialogue with the peer reviewer Milone and McBroom to push an agenda through their document. Why Milone and McBroom would put their professional reputation in jeopardy for Ross and Shapiro is unknown.

What is also key is that all of the changes and alterations push the talking points of the BCRD. If the BCRD can push the concept of a smaller Costco than Costco would build, and have the Commission buy into it, they can kill the project. If they can muddy the water and demand a never ending list of more tests, analysis, and studies, they can kill the project, as is their goal.

There remain additional questions as well. We know both Shapiro and Ross, in additional to Milone and McBroom, saw the original and know it was modified. We do not know whose handwriting belongs to whom on the document, or if another party saw the document and made notes on it. There are also clearly conversations that took place either in person or on the phone which we do not have a record of that play a role; however, we do have a series of documents and emails that paint a clear picture of what took place in the time period in question. 

A final vote is required by law from the Inland Wetlands Commission in May on the Costco. The public hearing portion will be closed in April. Who is actually on the Commission at that time to vote, who the towns support staff will be and who is in line for a major lawsuit is yet to be seen.

(55) comments

Anonymous

Stew Lenard!...Stew Lenard! Stew Lenard! yah!

Pat Santoro

These crooks represent us,the taxpayer.I believe Diana Ross does draw a paycheck.To Ross and Shapiro,how are you going to explain these actions?I am certain you will be explaining your behavior to a judge.You are liars and have brought shame to this town.I misspoke won't work in this case.Great job ,Steve.

Guest

Example 4. – Multiple times, the altered document replaces “may” with “will likely” when referring to potential impacts. Shapiro said to me in end of May 2017, “you are more like tomake troublrs not Her!” Heltke’s to use “likely “?

Guest

Example 4. – Multiple times, the altered document replaces “may” with “will likely” when referring to potential impacts. Shapiro said to me in end of May 2017, “you are more likely to make troubles Not her”. Shapiro seems like to use “likely “.

Anonymous


Great Job Steve...you are the new Mike Wallace. Now, let's see some people go to jail for their actions. Cosgrove has to act to get these evil liar out of all commissions dealing with the town...they lost all creditability....I.S.


Anonymous

Nice work, Steve. The citizens should file a class action lawsuit against all these corrupt, immoral, unethical people. They should be investigated, thrown out of office, and arrested. How do we, the citizens of Branford, make that happen?

Pat Santoro

In answer to your question,you have to find an attorney who will take the case.You really don't want to sue the town,but you can use the individuals at fault,personally.You would have to come up with a sizeable retainer and be prepared to present a case file and do alot of leg work. I recommend Norm Pattis if he would take the case.If you are serious,I will help you.You are going to have to come up with something better than Anonymous,I am not good at working with phantoms.

Anonymous

It's time to oust these criminals from their commission posts. They are a bad lot from the top down. What a bunch of despicably shacks of sh*t!

Anonymous

Seems to me Ross & Shapiro should be relieved of their duties tomorrow morning, if not before. Bellamy should be banned from town hall, Branford and Boston. This is disgraceful.

Anonymous

The Town Attorney needs to refer this matter to the U.S. Attorney for investigation and prosecution, this has all the earmarks of a RICO case. In the meantime Ms. Ross should be dismissed and Mr. Shapioro should be remove from the Board. Jamie needs to act.

Anonymous

Ask Diana how Stew Lenard's was stopped in Orange.

JGordon

Stew Leonard was "stopped" in Orange by a neighborhood opposition group, who rumor has it, was funded by an international supermarket conglomerate. This seems plausible because they used a high powered attorney (expensive) and took matters to the CT Supreme Court. The project was approved in Inland Wetlands and Zoning. However, a technical error in the Inland Wetlands meeting process resulted in the approval being vacated. Mr. Leonard chose to not go back and correct the technical error. Basically, an alternate design was reviewed and approved without full public comment at the hearing. A very fixable error. He decided for his own reasons (perhaps a less the stellar producing store in Newington), not to move forward.

Anonymous

Incredible work Steve. I truly am disgusted by what has been going on over the Costco debacle. I would say that those involved should be embarrassed but I sense that they have no shame.

Anonymous

So here we are again, the liberals and the environmentalist lying, cheating and stealing to obtain their goal at all costs. The question which hasn't been asked is the town liable for the actions of Shapiro and Ross? From Costco's perspective they will now extract a pound of flesh from the town coffers.

Anonymous

At the very least, Costco should go after the crooked "peer review" firm for which THEY have been paying the fees, and go after every cent of their assets. Since the whole point of them was to get an unbiased review, and this was decidedly NOT that, the whole report needs to be tossed and redone by a reputable firm of Costco's choosing. And since we're talking about tossing, the First Selectman needs to do that to Ross and Shapiro immediately for undermining the process and putting the town in jeopardy for yet another law suit. And if what they did was actually illegal and not just reprehensible, then they need to be prosecuted.

This also might explain why the BLT felt comfortable with softening their stance (not that Horne was part of that with his latest filing, which in retrospect should have given us all a heads-up). They knew that the BCRD and Ross/Shapiro were going to do the real dirty work, thus protecting their donation flow.

Anonymous

I wonder where MS CHAMBERS will be on this issue, Other than hiding
under a ROCK. Time for Branford Eagle to fold their tent.
Great Job ,Steve.!

Steve Mazzacane Staff
Steve Mazzacane

The Eagle has served as the mouthpiece for the DaRos Democrats and Penny Bellamy for years. Their Costco coverage has consisted of writing whatever Bellamy wanted them to. The last article claimed the peer reviewer recommended a small building, if you can find that anywhere, please let me know. Don't worry, its not there, Chambers was flat out lying. Previous to that, They wrote Costco submitted a new plan, after we called them out on their lies, they actually changed the title of the article. Propaganda writer Marcia Chambers is well known for the dishonest person she is, and the history of articles containing those lies to back that up.

Anonymous

I think this was done without the knowledge of Cosgrove, who is in favor of Costco. He needs to include Barbara Neal when he takes out the garbage. Shame on you, Penny Belamy! Haven't you cost the town enough yet? Excellent job Steve!

Pat Santoro

I remember at a Selectman's meeting,Shapiro went after Selectman Higgins,very disrespectful and hateful looking for his opinion on adjustments to the Inland Wetlands commission.Selectman Higgins answered by stating "Change is good".The most intuitive statement yet.

Anonymous

Shapiro's reprehensible treatment of the Costco team was worthy of losing his position as it was. After this, there should be no discussion, he has to go NOW and take Ross and all the Bellamy-Horne crooks with him.

Anonymous

Wow for Ross to say "here's what we need to do to avoid being sued." Shameful. That is such a deceitful and selfish thing. Do the Selectmen have the right to request her resignation over this behavior?

Anonymous

I wonder if the Marcus Law Firm might take on a case against Ross and Shapiro on a contingency basis.... (inside political joke).

Sailsalot

Just a guess. Both of these people are liberal Democrats. The Hillary effect, they just can't help themselves, they have to lie.

Anonymous

Don't blame Democrats....Blame Machiavelli.

Anonymous

So where do we go from here? How do all the townsfolks in Branford seek justice against Ross, Shapiro,Bellamy, and the peer reviewers? Their behavior is not only disgusting, but I'm sure that laws were broken. And while we're at it, Bill Horne needs to go too. Wonderful reporting Steve. Thank you

Anonymous

I think I hear Wayne Cooke's truck coming down the road...

Anonymous

he needs to park it in stony creek

Anonymous

Thanks fro blowing the lid off this Steve!

What now? Will there be a statement from our first selectman or town attorney? We are tired of this nonsense and while supporters of this project have suspected something fishy has been going on to block this proposal, there certainly seems to be enough evidence now to pursue legal action against these people. Has Mr. Cosgrove or Mr. Aniskovich spoken out about this, or do they plan on doing so?

Anonymous

if they don't speak up - then their silence speaks volumes.... Cosgrove or Aniskovich - they have to do something or they will be out next time...that can't act like republican senators in washington that do nothing....step up, stand up or get shipped out!...Be leaders...I.S.

Anonymous

They'd better do it - and do it soon. It's already too long without a statement - unless we just don't know it yet. Otherwise, their credibility is down the drain, as well.

Anonymous

Slow down there IS. They cant say a word until they get all the details and whats on this site isn't enough, but an obvious great start. There are HR rules in play when it comes to Ross. No offense to the Ladies reading this comment. Shes a 50 yr old woman (protected), municipal employee in the St of CT. There is a protocol to follow. Everyone needs to allow the process to play out. Its going to take a while. The physical evidence on the surface is overwhelming. There will be a complete forensic analysis done. I suspect Penny, Bill and any other individual involved are in their respective basement corners sucking their thumbs about now.

Anonymous

Sadly, I would not be surprised if the allegations set forth in the article is true. However, at this time they are just allegations and a full investigation should be conducted before good people are slandered. And unfortunately these dealings go on more often than one would think,. It's not about liberals or conservatives, nor Democrats or Republicans, but make no mistake, it is about politics. The "peer review" firm has a lot of explaining to do and should be sidelined from presenting any services to the Town until a full investigation is conducted. Any influence that Miss Ross and Mr. Shapiro, may or may not, had on the peer review firm would have little impact if Milone and McBroom were not a willing participant in altering their report. No one is guilty until proven guilty, lets wait and see before we judge.

Anonymous

No above...you are not going to get away with that anymore....THIS IS ABOUT DEMOCRATS AND LIBERALS AND HOW YOU THEY HIDE THEIR AGENDA. You are a evil person trying to fluff this off as everyone does it. NO, not everyone...the DEMOCRATS OF THIS TOWN LIE /CHEAT / HIDE THE TRUTH TO PUSH THEIR LIBERAL BS AGENDA FOR THEY KNOW NO ONE WILL VOTE FOR THEM IF THEY TELL THE TRUTH. YOU ARE WORSE THAT A LIAR...YOU ARE AN ENABLER...SHAME ON YOU ABOVE AND KNOW THIS...YOU WILL NOT GET AWAY ANYMORE WITH TRYING TO DRAG republicans into this mess.....no go back to grading papers you shell of a person. I.S.

Steve Mazzacane Staff
Steve Mazzacane

An update. We have been in contact with many of the parties and are expecting some statements soon. First selectman Cosgrove is out of the office today; we will contact him tomorrow. We are continuing to monitor this story, after it was published, residents and other firms came forward with information we are now adding to the investigation. As was pointed out, there are legal processes to follow for employees and contracts in place with the peer reviewers, and the town will likely take some time to do an investigation. We will update our readers as soon as we know more or hear from any of the parties involved. Thank you for reading and your support.

Anonymous

To I.S. ... you are missing your calling. Have you ever thought about working for Donald Trump's in the speech writing department?

Anonymous

Trump does not need any help for he is a self made man and wins on his own - unlike obama who needs someone to write his speaches and someone to tell him what to say for Obama is an affirmative action president.. .basically obama ia a moron who got voted in for he can read a telepromt well, gives frees stuff to morons and is black so people voted for him...just like how he got into harvard...because he is black....that is why his grades are sealed.......hahahahahahahhahahahahah...I.S

Anonymous

While Ms Ross probably cannot (yet?) be fired over this matter, I wonder if she can be transferred into another position, or placed on administrative leave, or maybe (cough, cough) she just "decides" it is a good time to use some of those accrued sick days.... Mr. Shapiro though that is another matter.

I expect Mr. Cosgrove to do a thorough job investigating the underling facts and then to act behind the scenes. He seems to care more about getting to the proper outcome than about getting credit or publicity. I hope that's the case here.

Anonymous

I will not be surprised if most if not all of this collusion and report gerrymandering turns out to be true. Dan Shapiro with his trademark stern demeanor and ever present scowl has been at his position so long it almost seems that the things they were doing were routine,even blatant , and thought they would not even need to use more private ways to conduct these clandestine activities. Bellamy is another pretentious twit. COSTCO's application had been sandbagged and stymied from the inception, to protect what ? Two or four oak trees in the remote corners of the property? Come on, they did all they could to thwart any earnest attempt by the applicant.
M and M is in deep trouble too. As a professional who reads these 'reviews' , I can tell you they are tainted and not wholly objective. I wonder how deep this goes and how many other routine applications they torpedoed and how deep the towns liability goes. Will other applications and reports need to be reviewed? Appealed? The Inland Wetlands Committee had become a fiefdom all thier own, ruling the roost when originally they were really intended to be in an advisory capacity. Branfords already terrible and difficult reputation for Land Use approvals of any kind has taken an even bigger hit,if that is even possible, and I never thought it could be possible. We are the laughing stock of the shoreline.Hundreds and thousands of dollars are wasted each year trying to get even the most simple of L U applications approved. Many of then denied and vanished. It's time to clean house,top to bottom,and run the departments with fair,objective and open minded individuals who don't sneer and snort and throw roadblocks at every application tendered at town hall. Are you listening Mr. Cosgrove? You ran your election platform on this very premise and from where I stand it's gotten WORSE and WORSE. As the dust settles on the ridiculously embarrassing Daros tenure,it looks like the lowly constituents of Branford are in for another one. Clear the decks, let people build,businesses grow and development happen or we will be left behind. Looks like we may already have been. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Thank you Steve,keep up the good work. While you're at it,find out how Dans property in one of the most ecologically sensitive tidelands I can think of has a boatyard,rail tracks and a variety of other I frastructue 'repairs' that would take a private individual a century to get approved,you might just turn over another rock.

Anonymous

Pure brilliance on whoever decided to investigate this and sheer stupidity on Ross and Shapiro. Guess Ross and Shapiro will feel the sting of being used by what's left of that sick DaRos group. Time to disinfect this town of these germs. C.B.

Pat Santoro

Milone and MacBroom are working on Branford Coastal Resilience Plan,will this continue?At the last ILWC meeting one of their reps said he loved working with Branford,I bet.

Anonymous

Tar and feather them

Anonymous

"At 4:23, Ross sends an email to one person letting her know the peer review is now available. That person is Penny Bellamy, the leader of the BCRD."

The smoking Atom bomb: PENNY BEDLAMY. That's her new name.

"Ross includes case River Bend Associates, Inc. v. Conservation & Inland Wetlands Commission, 269 Conn. 57 (2004), then concludes her notes to Root stating that “The expert must explain how the discharge of chemicals causes harm to the wetlands in order for this reason to hold up in court.”

This is for when COSTCO sues the Town of Branford for tampering with a contract. This when PENNY BEDLAMY gets this town into ANOTHER losing court battle, and the town suffers another payout for HER monstrous, selfish, inconceivably deranged behavior!

Where a mob with torches and pitchforks to drive a suspected witch out of the village when we need one?

Anonymous

Attention Bill Horne. Please investigate possible, lead in soil contamination, at 57 Linden Ave. Water runoff from this property flows directly into the Sybil Creek estuary and ecologically sensitive tidelands.

Anonymous

Funny how that Anon commenter who has been sniping at Steve for the past few weeks is nowhere to be heard on this issue. In this case, silence is worth more than a thousand words.

Anonymous

TO:Anonymous posted at 6:44 pm on Tue, Mar 22, 2016. a/k/a I.S. This shell of a person went back to grading papers and you got an "A" in bigotry and a "F" in decency.Ordinarily I'd have to attend a Trump rally to encounter someone of your stature.

Anonymous

Anon. 9:24. You mention Dan's boatyard, rail tracks and other infrastructure. As any long time resident of Indian Neck/ Pawson Park knows, that property was a boat yard owned by Charlie Pond going back to at least the second world war or maybe beyond. The recent reassessment of 2014 makes no mention of a boatyard or marine railway at 53-57 Linden Ave. A Google satellite view dated Aug. 2015, clearly shows a marine railway with boats on property at 53-57 Linden Ave. Why is this not being shown on the assessors field cards ? A building permit was pulled for that property several years ago. The person whose name was on the building permit was a member of the IWC. Knowing the reputation that boatyards had toward the environment, did the building dept. require soil sampling, did the owner being a member of the IWC volunteer soil samples ? i.e. Costco and Wayne Cooke. Seems like a double standard. Several questions. Why is the true description of property at 53-57 Linden not shown on the assessors field card? Has the collusion reached into the assessors office ? Why are so many field tests being required of Costco and not of a member of the IWC whose property,is a known boatyard of 70 plus years, with possible contamination issues. Has collusion reached into the building dept. Is Dan going to do the right thing and resign? More for selectperson Cosgrove to look into.

Anonymous

Hi, Steve, On Tuesday you wrote "We have been in contact with many of the parties and are expecting some statements soon. First selectman Cosgrove is out of the office today; we will contact him tomorrow. We are continuing to monitor this story, after it was published, residents and other firms came forward with information we are now adding to the investigation. As was pointed out, there are legal processes to follow for employees and contracts in place with the peer reviewers, and the town will likely take some time to do an investigation. We will update our readers as soon as we know more or hear from any of the parties involved."

I realize full well that a story as explosive as this one will take time to play out. Do you have a particular date in mind for a followup, that will both allow you the time and legwork you need to develop more information and also let us know when to expect the next article?

Thanks so much for breaking this story. It will be fascinating some day in the future to read a retrospective on how it came together, apparently an insider who was disgusted at this chicanery leaked some documents to you. Our own "Deep Throat", eh?

Anonymous

Pretty easy to follow , last meeting MM said they were asked to provide alternative plans. Steve asked "by who".
Then the wonderful Freedom of Information laws kick in, where anyone can ask for documentation from our government.
Glad we have a journalist that took the time to review hundreds of documents.

Anonymous

I agree, Mike Wallace is the biggest windbag on TV and Steve Mazzacane is right behind him.

Anonymous

So if you people want to discredit Milone and MacBroom then it's back to the P&Z where you were happy to accept their Traffic Report. Either their opinion works for you or it doesn't. You can't have it both ways.

Steve Mazzacane Staff
Steve Mazzacane

What we saw was the drastic difference was between Mac McGuigan and Dan Shapiro. Mac allowed an open and transparent process, the goal was the best possible project, and these issues were avoided. Shapiro closed off the process, allowed far more secrecy, and we have this. There is no comparison between the processes, they are not close. Shapiro could use a long lesson from mac or Chuck Andres on how to properly run a fair and open Commission.

Anonymous

Anon 2:12 Well, I guess it would depend if there were town committee members giving directives and instructions to M & M as to what they wanted to have in the traffic report, and editing and correcting the drafts of that report. Perhaps a FOIA requisition could answer that.

Anonymous

Anon 2;12 (you are wrong) and anon 4;29---
No need for an foi request on the planning work done by MM---in that case there was REAL transparancy as the peer reviewer and staff and applicants always met together in the light of day instead of this charade that IWC is playing where everuything has to "go through diana"----of course now we know exactly why ole danny boy didnt want everyone to meet together.....so I'll take the "unedited" version of the MM report and be happy with that too....but danny didnt like that conclusion did he?

Anonymous

Steve any update ?

Guest

So Cooke sues the town then wants their legal drafts on the very topic of his lawsuit. This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Why didn't Cooke go to the Freedom of Information Commission? I smell a rat.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.