Carroll participated as a Planning Board member in matters affecting his father’s property
The State Ethics Commission has issued a Final Order approving a Disposition Agreement in which Templeton Planning Board member Charles Carroll admits to violating the conflict of interest law by participating in Planning Board decisions related to proposals to rezone an area of town where his father owns property. The Commission accepted Carroll’s payment of a $1,500 civil penalty and dismissed the adjudicatory proceeding against him.
At a July 2017 meeting, the Planning Board discussed proposing two warrant articles to Town Meeting to rezone certain sections of the town, including an area along Patriots Road where Carroll’s father owns and rents out a house. Carroll spoke in support of the proposal. The rezoning articles failed to pass Town Meeting that fall. In November 2018, the Planning Board met to discuss re-submitting the two rezoning warrant articles to the spring 2019 Town Meeting. Carroll again spoke in support of the rezoning proposals.
During the November 2018 meeting, the Planning Board Chair read aloud from a resident’s letter raising concerns over Board members and their relatives owning property in the areas under consideration for rezoning. A second resident who was present at the meeting voiced similar concerns. After multiple residents of Patriots Road, also present at the meeting, expressed opposition to the proposed rezoning, the Planning Board discussed the matter and voted to remove Patriots Road from its rezoning recommendation to Town Meeting.
The conflict of interest law prohibits municipal employees from participating in their official capacity as municipal employees in matters in which they or their immediate family have a financial interest. Carroll violated this legal prohibition by, as a member of the Planning Board, discussing and voting on proposals to rezone an area of the town that includes property his father owns. The proposed zoning changes would have allowed greater opportunities to develop the property with fewer restrictions. Carroll’s father’s financial interest in the rezoning proposal was not shared by a substantial segment of the town’s population.
The State Ethics Commission is charged with enforcing the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A. When at least three of the Commission’s five members vote to find reasonable cause to believe a public employee has violated the law, the Commission can also authorize an adjudicatory proceeding against the employee. The Commission’s Enforcement Division initiated an adjudicatory proceeding against Carroll in September 2020. Once an adjudicatory proceeding has been initiated, the public employee then has an option of entering into a public disposition agreement rather than exercising his or her right to a hearing.
The Commission encourages public employees to contact the Commission’s Legal Division at 617-371-9500 for free advice if they have any questions regarding how the conflict of interest law may apply to them.