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Huntington ethics board dismisses complaint against ZBA chairman

Christopher Modelewski addresses Town hearing at Babylon town

Christopher Modelewski addresses Town hearing at Babylon town hall, Nov. 16 2016. Photo Credit: John Roca

The Town of Huntington Ethics Board has dismissed a complaint calling for the removal of Zoning Board of Appeals chairman Christopher Modelewski over his relationship with a local zoning attorney and a Huntington-based engineering firm.

The ethics board also declined to refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice as the complaint requested.

“This is the result I expected,” Modelewski said. “The depth of the inquiry and the quality of the opinion make the decision unassailable.”

Town officials received a letter in December from Cold Spring Harbor resident William Coden asking that Modelewski be removed as chairman and that the relationship between him, Huntington attorney John Breslin and RMS Engineering be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The letter suggested that there was a conflict of interest because Modelewski and Breslin have office space in the same building, that Breslin appears before the town zoning board as an attorney and real estate appraiser, and that Modelewski, Breslin and RMS work together, often representing the same client, before other municipal boards.

The eight-page decision, dated March 9 and signed by ethics board counsel Steven G. Leventhal, found that the allegations, “if proved, would not constitute a violation of Article 18 of the New York General Municipal Law, the Town of Huntington Code of Ethics, or common law principles of government ethics derived from judicial decisions.”

The decision also said that none of the alleged facts, “if proved,” would rise to a suspicion that a crime was committed, therefore there would be no referral to the justice department.

Breslin said he was not surprised by the decision.

“I knew nothing was done wrong,” Breslin said. “I expected the decision to be along those lines.”

RMS Engineering declined to comment through a representative.

Coden said he is disappointed but not surprised and is thinking about appealing the decision.

Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said he appreciates “the ethics board’s thorough review and consideration of the matter and the process that led to their conclusion.”

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