The Coalition Against Housing at EPCAL has filed an ethics complaint regarding Councilwoman Jodi Giglio’s private meeting with leaders of Triple Five Group on March 12 in New York City.
“We’re putting everybody on notice that today, we filed a formal complaint with the ethics committee regarding Councilwoman Giglio’s meeting in New York for four hours behind closed doors,” said Rex Farr, the group’s coordinator, at Tuesday’s Riverhead Town Board meeting.
“We are astounded with this decision and we ask that she recused herself from any further debate in the Triple Five/Luminati Riverhead deal,” he said.
Triple Five owns 75 percent of Calverton Aviation & Technology, the company seeking to buy 1,640 acres of town land at the Enterprise Park at Calverton for $40 million, and Luminati Aerospace owns 25 percent.
“I too feel Jodi Giglio should recuse herself from the upcoming vote on EPCAL,” said Laura Venugopalan of Riverhead. “It’s of concern to me that she met privately with” members of the Gherzmezian family, which controls Triple Five.
Ms. Venugopalan said there’s no official record of what was discussed.
“Who knows if a private deal was struck,” she said. “There’s no way to find out.”
Phil Barbato of Jamesport said Triple Five wasn’t showing ethical behavior either, having a private meeting with Ms. Gigio and having private meetings with Ms. Jens-Smith and also meetings with two council members at a time during a snowstorm in early January in order to circumvent the open meetings law.
“Lord knows what else is going on behind closed doors,” he said.
Joann Waski of Jamesport then used the same argument against Ms. Jens-Smith.
“What’s the difference?” she asked. “Are you planning on recusing?
Ms. Jens-Smith said the board had decided prior to Ms. Giglio’s trip to the city that it would not provide CAT in advance with the questions it planned to ask at the second “qualified and eligible sponsor” hearing with CAT.
Ms. Jens-Smith said that, in retrospect, she would not meet privately with the applicants again.
Councilwoman Catherine Kent said she stated publicly after the January meeting that she felt it was mistake.
Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said he did not think Ms. Giglio’s actions mandate recusal, and he did not see any violations of law.
Resident Angela DeVito said Ms. Giglio’s actions were a breach of public trust.
Ms. Giglio, who has defended her actions in the past, did not comment publicly Tuesday on the call for her to recuse.
The Town Board on Tuesday also voted 4-1 — with Ms. Giglio opposed — to set a new timeline for its Q&E hearing with CAT.
The comment period originally was to end on April 6, but the board extended it to April 13 for Town Board comments, and April 27 for CAT to respond to the town comments.
The town had submitted additional questions on April 13.
Prior to April 27, CAT can request an additional extension, and the board can decide it wants to grant that extension, Ms. Jens-Smith said.
Ms. Giglio said she wanted to discuss it in a work session and felt the board needs to set a final date for the public to comment.
Whenever that deadline ends, there still will be a comment period for the public, Ms. Jens-Smith said.