NEW BRITAIN – The chairman of the Connecticut Siting Council has resigned amid allegations that he engaged in illegal communications with a lawyer representing a group that is fighting the development of a commercial wind farm in Prospect.
Daniel Caruso of Fairfield resigned Thursday as chairman of the agency, which has the responsibility for deciding on the location of utility projects. Caruso’s resignation came two days after a Waterbury lawyer, Jeffrey Tinley, sent a three-page letter to Siting Council Executive Director Linda Roberts regarding a private meeting that Tinley said Caruso initiated with him March 18 about his clients, Save Prospect, a group opposing the wind farm.
In the letter, Tinley claims Caruso made comments about the co-chairwoman of the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee, state Rep. Vickie Nardello, D-Prospect, and made disparaging comments about witnesses from Massachusetts that had testified before the Siting Council on behalf of Save Prospect.
The hearing process for the wind farm is supposed to conclude this week.
“He (Caruso) stated that the only reason he had allowed “those people from Massachusetts” to speak at hearing … is because he saw the “pained expression” on my face when he initially said they would not be given an opportunity to speak,” Tinley wrote to Roberts. “Judge Caruso said, ‘They’re all nice people. But it’s a lot of bull—-.”
Tinley later claimed in the letter that the hearing process would continue and that a decision would be rendered before the end of this legislative session.
Nardello has proposed that lawmakers consider a one-year moratorium on wind farms in the state.
Tinley wrote that Caruso told him that if he was upset about the Siting Council ruling on the Prospect project, “that’s too bad.” Tinley was unavailable for comment Friday.
Roberts said on Friday that she would not have any comment on Tinley’s allegations or Caruso’s decision to resign. In a letter to Siting Council members Thursday before his resignation, Caruso acknowledged he had met with Tinley in the Fairfield Probate Court where Caruso is a judge.
“This brief conversation on procedures seems now to be misunderstood or might otherwise be misused,” Caruso wrote.
The Siting Council operates on a set of rules that require all substantive matters in cases that the agency is hearing to be discussed in open public hearings.
Caruso became chairman of the Siting Council in 2006 after Pamela Katz resigned because she and her husband were moving to Arizona.
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