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Longtime zoning chairman passed over; current member quits

Joseph F. Tulimieri

Joseph F. Tulimieri, at left, a fixture in Arlington's development picture since the 1960s, has lost his job as chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The selectmen's decision not to reappoint Tulimieri, in a 3-2 vote, had a speedy impact. Appeals board member Eugene Lucarelli told YourArlington the next day: "I will be filing my resignation letter as soon as possible effective immediately. The letter will explain my thinking."

Marie Krepelka, board administrator, confirmed Wednesday, June 5, that Lucarelli had filed a letter of resignation. He calls the process "fatally flawed."

Selectman Chairman Daniel Dunn said Tulimieri's troubles in Cambridge led him to move to appoint Roger A. Dupont, an attorney, and Paul Maloy Jr., an engineer, to the five-member board.

"Whether in Cambridge or in Arlington, it's the same individual making those choices in both towns," Dunn said. "I’m not comfortable reappointing someone who would make those decisions. The town would be better off if we don’t reappoint him."

Tulimieri was executive director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority from 1982 until his forced resignation Sept. 27. The agency’s five-member board, all of whom became active in April 2012 after a 32-month "quiet period" with no board activity, identified irregularities in how Tulimieri assigned himself salary, bonuses, part-time wages and retirement compensation, Cambridge Day reported.

After the forced resignation, the agency appointed a special counsel to look into pay-related irregularities and has asked for Tulimieri to pay back at least $80,000.

Last October, Cambridge Day reported that Tulimieri gave himself almost $17,000 in raises as well as thousands more sick and part-time pay.

That month, the appointments of Tulimieri and Maloy expired, and selectmen faced the question of whether to reappoint or replace him. The issue hung on for months as Kevin Greeley, a supporter of Tulimieri, was selectmen chairman. After becoming chair in April, Dunn took action on the issue.

After interviewing five candidates for the Zoning board last week, including Tulimieri, Dunn recommended Dupont and Maloy for appointment, but not Tulimieri.

"It comes down for me to a memo from his [Tulimieri's] former employer in Cambridge, who believes he made several errors in judgment that were ethical in nature," Dunn said.

Greeley, Byrne disagree with Dunn

Greeley and Steve Byrne did not agree and voted against appointing Dupont.

Greeley, a board member since 1989, said questions about Tulimieri's financial stewardship dealt only with Cambridge and that he brought no ethical lapses to Arlington.

Byrne said he echoed Greeley. "It's just not right," he said, adding that Tulimieri had been a volunteer here "for so many years."
Selectman Joseph Curro agreed events that happen outside Arlington are relevant to this question. "He gave more than 50 years to this community," he said.

"We're charged with making these appointments to have fiduciary responsibility," Curro said. “When I make that decision, I consider it fair to look at other positions of responsibility."

Diane Mahon said she knew the decision was "painful" but said she "felt comfortable moving forward."

Tulimieri's work for the town includes writing the town's zoning bylaws in 1974, when he was a member of the Redevelopment Board. He became a permanent member of the zoning board in 1991.

Of five letters selectmen received about the issue, four were in support.

That did not cut it for three from the public who spoke.

John Belskis, known for his opposition to the 40B housing law, said that at zoning meetings he attended, Tulimieri appeared to favor developers.

"My feeling is we need someone kinder, gentler, maybe someone who has the best interest in the town," he said. "I think you can do better."

Elsie Fiore, a 50-year Town Meeting member and long a thorn to development interests, expressed her opposition to reappointment.

Finance Committee member Mary Margaret Franclemont said she had been "appalled" at the way Tulimieri ran meetings.

Before the vote, Dupont promised to listen to people. A 28-year real estate attorney, he said he has served as a conflict mediator.

The vote for Maloy was 5-0.

Dupont's and Maloy's terms expire in October 2015.

This story was published Tuesday, June 4, 2013, and updated the next day.

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