Documents show new Chelmsford Selectman Dixon profited from 40B
By Rita Savard, email@example.com/13/2009
CHELMSFORD -- How much power is in a pen?Ask former selectmen candidate Donald Van Dyne and he says, "enough to make or break a candidate's campaign."Van Dyne is pushing forward with a lawsuit against an Arlington-based anti-40B group, which he alleges hurt his family and cost himvotes by mailing hundreds of letters throughout Chelmsford and "smearing" his name.Van Dyne, once a leading contender in Tues-day's Board of Selectmen race, finished third among six candidates, missing election by about 300 votes.But Van Dyne said he's not sure why the coalition decidedto endorse another candidate who profited from a 40B proj-ect at 1375 Main St.in Reading -- George Dixon.According to a memorandum of understanding dated Oct.24, 2001, Dixon received a $30,000 finder's fee on thesame Reading project in which Van Dyne was slammed bythe coalition.The project was also cited as the subject of anaudit for hidden profits by the state Inspector General's Of-fice."
This outside group did everything they could to influ- ence this election,
" Van Dyne said."
They sent out a letter that distorted the truth and peo- ple took it seriously. This should never be allowed to be repeated in Chelmsford again
."The missive's sender, The Coalition to Repeal 40B, namedVan Dyne as a participant in a land-flip scheme -- eventhough state documents show otherwise -- and alleged thatVan Dyne paid residents more than $1,000 to avoid opposi-tion whenbuilding a Chapter 40B affordable-housing project on GlenAvenue.John Belskis, chairman of the coalition, said he stands bythe charges and has refused to print a retraction."
There wasn't anything in the letter that wasn't based on facts
," Belskis has told The Sun."
I don't see this as a solid case, but more as harassment of John Belskis.
"Land flipping is a term used when property is purchased and quickly resold for a large profit.In 2007, the state Inspector General's office released findings from an audit of Sumner Cheney Condominiums, a 40B project inReading.Sumner Cheney was among 10 40B projects examined by the state, in which developers were suspected of hiding excessprofits.While Van Dyne's name is listed several times in the report, the Inspector General's office told The Sun that Van Dyne was not citedas a participant in a land-flip scheme, but was listed as the developer who purchased the parcel from its original owner, RoccoScippa."
His (Van Dyne's) involvement was an arms-length transaction,
" said Jack McCarthy, a spokesman for the IG's Office."
That's what we want to see.
"An "arms-length" transaction is when a buyer and seller of a product act independently and have no relationship to each other.Theconcept of an arm's-length transaction is to ensure that both parties in the deal are acting in their own self-interest and are not sub- ject to any pressure or duress from the other party.Van Dyne did pay the town of Reading $17,000 after the Citizens' Housing andPlanning Association informed the town it was still owed profits from the Sumner Cheney project.Reading Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner said "
getting the developer to do what they were supposed to do was really problematic.
"Belskis, who was unable to be reached Friday, has said the problems with the Reading project helped fuel the coalition's mailing.Dixon, who was endorsed in the mailing, topped the six-man race for two open selectmen seats with 1,948 votes.The other candi-