Planning Board Removes Traffic Expert After Alleged Conflict of Interest
Officials to seek out a replacement in the coming weeks
Attorney Robert Inglima, opposing the application on behalf of Munico Associates, said at a planning board meeting last month that the board's traffic engineering consultant Gary Dean had been involved to some degree in an ongoing New Milford Zoning Board application concerning parties with interests in the current application.
"The fact is that Dolan and Dean were engaged by the developer of [the New Milford site] apparently to represent [Inserra] as a proponent traffic expert in support of a project that includes a residential component and a supermarket," Inglima said Monday night. "Those are the facts."
Inglima asked Wyckoff Planning Board Attorney Joseph Perconti to find that there was a conflict of interest, "then go to the determination of how you're going to solve the problem of Mr. Dean having been involved in these hearings — having left his thumb print on it — and how the board is going to go forward."
Perconti advised planning board members to remove Dean.
"While our prominent attorneys have agreed to disagree, they have agreed on one thing in all 100-plus pages of documentation," Perconti said, referring to attorney briefs filed regarding Dean.
"I don't find... that there is any clear indices that Gary Dean is in fact a representative in any capacity of Inserra," Perconti said, but that the involvement of Dean and Dolan in the New Milford project had raised valid concerns.
"That would be considered a potential conflict and... these conflicts appear to be unwaivable," Perconti said. "Everybody — including both the applicant [and opposition] — would concur that the prudent thing would be to terminate Mr. Dean's services and retain the services of a new traffic engineer.
Mayor Chris DePhillips agreed that Dean — who was not present at the meeting — should be terminated as an expert, but pondered the board's next step in the nearly 2-year-long application.
"The question becomes whether [the board is] required to retain a new expert or should we have the discussion of whether the board can proceed without a traffic expert at all," DePhillips said.
Perconti recommended that it was in the board's best interest to be consistent and retain another traffic expert, suggesting that retaining one would not be onerous.
The board voted unanimously to remove the services of Dolan and Dean, and Perconti said he would prepare, for the board's next meeting on May 9, a resolution to hire Dean's replacement.
Planning Board Chairman Richard Bonsignore said that the plan was to move forward on appointing a replacement traffic expert in time for a special meeting that has been tentatively scheduled for May 29.
The next Wyckoff Planning Board meeting is scheduled for May 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Check back with Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch for a report from the public comment session from Monday night's meeting.