Selectman Riley discloses appearance of conflict of interest on Wong family permit, but says she has clearance to vote on plans for mixed-use project featuring 130 apartment units
Selectman Corinne R. Riley said she has received a verbal opinion from a state Ethics Commission attorney that it would not be a conflict of interest for her to vote on an S-2 permit request by the Wong family on land at the Kowloon Restaurant site. Riley, who worked as a former campaign manager for state Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus), was concerned about a potential conflict.
“Atty. Mallam said voting on this hearing regarding the Kowloon property – she gave her opinion that it was not a conflict,” Riley told colleagues at last week’s (Nov. 16) Board of Selectmen meeting.
“She advised me to submit a Disclosure of Appearance of Conflict of Interest, which I filed with the town clerk this afternoon,” she said.
M&W Trust, William and Madeline C. Wong and WM Realty, owners of land at 920-950 Broadway, have requested a Special Permit (S-2) to allow two buildings to exceed four stories and 55 feet in height. Both buildings planned for the area would be six stories and 67 feet and 8 inches in height. One would include 90 apartment units in addition to a new Kowloon Restaurant. The other building would include 40 apartment units and retail space.
In her Disclosure of Appearance of Conflict of Interest, Riley said that neither she nor her family will benefit from any financial gain and that “I will be fair and impartial during discussion and vote.”
“I signed this disclosure with this statement: ‘Taking into account the facts that I have disclosed above, I feel I can perform my official duties objectively and fairly.’” Riley said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Riley noted in the document she filed with the town clerk that she resigned as Rep. Wong’s campaign manager in 2019 “as I felt it was a conflict of interest being a Selectman if I should earn a seat.”
“I am filing this disclosure to disclose the facts about this relationship or affiliation and to dispel the appearance of a conflict of interest,” she wrote.
It requires a four-fifths vote for the board to issue an S-2 permit.
Selectmen approved a request by Attorney Richard M. Magnan to continue the hearing that was set for last week so that he could provide additional information about the mixed-use development planned for Route 1 North.
Selectman Debra Panetta questioned Magnan as to whether the timeline for the project had been shortened from what the town had originally been told. Magnan said the project had initially been expected to take three to four years. But, recently, the Wong family has been looking at the project happening within two years, he said.
No date has been set for resuming the hearing.