Brightwaters trustee criticizes village resident for comments on crime

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A Brightwaters Village trustee took the unusual move of reading aloud a critical letter about a resident who heads a neighborhood watch group at a recent board meeting.

At the April 7 meeting, trustee John Lawlor read a letter he wrote, criticizing resident Carmine Chiappetta for making "exaggerated and unsupported claims of increased crime" to "attract attention to himself" and make the board appear negligent on the issue.

"He is simply not being honest with his self-promotion," Lawlor said. "Mr. Chiappetta does not disclose that he is in litigation with the village and therefore by definition adverse to the village."

Chiappetta declined to comment after the meeting. According to court records, the village brought a lawsuit against him last year based on zoning code violations. That suit is pending.

Lawlor asked the board to attach his letter to the meeting's minutes. Trustee Jack Riordan objected, calling Lawlor's comments "atrocious."

"It's a shame that these things have to come up," said Mayor Joseph McNulty, but he added, "I think Mr. Lawlor has the right to say this."

McNulty, Lawlor and Deputy Mayor Denise Gibson voted in favor of attaching Lawlor's comments to the minutes, Riordan and trustee Joe McDermott voted against it.

After the meeting, Lawlor said he was not pushing for Chiappetta to step down from the neighborhood watch group but was "tired of being criticized" by him at previous board meetings.

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"I'm entitled to express my opinion as a trustee and as a resident of the village," he said. "I just want everybody to make their minds up whether to credit or discredit him."

In other business, the board held a public hearing on the proposed $2.8 million village budget, though trustees acknowledged the budget was likely to change.

"It's a document in flux. We're working on it," McNulty said.

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During the hearing, McNulty was challenged on the village's method of assessing garbage fees on households. Riordan said some households bore a disproportionate amount of the fee. McNulty said he was not aware of problems with the fee assessment.

"If I erred, I would like to believe I erred on the part of the village," he said.

The trustees also unanimously passed a motion to exceed the state-mandated tax cap on raising taxes if necessary. The board will hold another budget meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. at village hall.

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