“A “peer review” is intended to be a report by a “peer” of the applicant, in this case, the experts hired by Costco. The resultant report should be the opinion of that peer reviewer, not the town or the Commission. What took place was collusion between Diana Ross, the Inland Wetlands department head, and the peer reviewer, Milone and McBroom. Actual source documents, including emails and draft copies of the review, show that the reviewers added items Ross specifically requested be added and altered their conclusions based on feedback from Ross. Ross’ emails state that Chairman Shapiro was part of the review process, working to edit the peer review before it was presented to the full commission, and allowing his edits and changes to go uncredited in the report. Essentially, the report filed and signed by Milone and MacBroom was a result of collusion between Ross, Shapiro and the firm, at least based on source documents. It was the height of dishonesty.
An initial peer review, dated March 7, before Shapiro and Ross added their alterations, was never read into the record. Even more damning is that those specific changes added by Ross and Shapiro, which in some cases are added to the text word for word, became the exact arguments the BCRD would use to fight Costco. The arguments were baseless, but it allowed Keith Ainsworth, the BCRD attorney, to state he agreed with Milone and McBroom, the peer reviewers, despite the opinions not actually being written by them.
What we learn from this is exactly how the previous DaRos administration, led by Penny Bellamy, his former town attorney, controlled town boards. It was simple: there was no need to control commissioners, if Bellamy can control the town department heads that control the flow of information to those Commissions, they can control the Commissions. Bellamy and DaRos controlled former town planner Shirley Rasmussen and Diana Ross, thus they controlled the Planning and Zoning and Inland Wetland Commissions. This way, the town could fend off potential applicants before they bothered, and seeing how Ross was willing to influence a supposed peer review and present it to the Commission as someone else’s work, it was clear they would stop at nothing to get the outcome the administration desired. That Bellamy is leading the anti-Costco charge now, and that Ross and Shapiro would alter a report to support her, is not surprising to anyone.”
•The Branford Seven
May 16, 2016