The Examiner

Email Triggers War of Words Between No. Castle Candidates

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A town-wide email blast last week from an Armonk-based citizens group touched off a spat between two of the three Republican candidates for North Castle Town Board that included accusations of conflicts of interest.

The email, sent out to residents on July 24 by Concerned Citizens of Armonk hours before that evening’s town board meeting, questioned Councilwoman Diane DiDonato-Roth’s refusal to recuse herself from votes regarding CVS, the Armonk Shopping Center and its owner Werber Management.

The shopping center is where the controversial CVS is scheduled to move in. The applicant sought and received a one-year extension for its special permit from the town board last week. The permit vote was approved last summer 3-2.

Meanwhile, DiDonato-Roth accused first-time candidate Barbara DiGiacinto of collaborating on the email with Town Center Pharmacy owner Charlene Jacobi, president of Concerned Citizens of Armonk, to strike back against her. The motivation, she said, came after a recent letter to the editor in The Examiner from Councilman John Cronin, the third GOP candidate for town board, questioning how DiGiacinto could serve on the town board while she and her family own multiple properties throughout town.

DiGiacinto has denied she owns any property but that it is owned by the children of John DiGiacinto Sr. However, she would recuse herself when appropriate, she said.

Jacobi said the email was written and distributed after concerns were raised that the permit extension vote appeared on the board’s consensus agenda, typically mundane items that are grouped together and approved with one vote, rather than through an individual vote.

She said DiDonato-Roth, a real estate agent, continued to have dealings with Werber Management through 2009, when she was elected to the town board.

Earlier this year the councilwoman recused herself on a permit vote for Chabad of Armonk moving into a Main Street property because someone in her office was handling the rental.

“Just for ethical purposes and for consistency, if she recused herself from one she should have recused herself from the other,” Jacobi said.

She and DiGiacinto both “categorically deny” working on the email together. DiGiacinto said that DiDonato Roth is “twisting the facts and misleading the public” to her advantage.

“Charlene Jacobi has always been motivated by her passion to keep chain stores and big box stores from coming to town; Concerned Citizen’s slogan “Main Street Not Chain Street” speaks for itself,” DiGiacinto said. “Secondly, Charlene Jacobi has always been an outspoken critic of certain members of the town board who totally ignore the process any application should follow when coming before the town board.”

DiDonato-Roth said any perceived conflict on her part is nowhere as egregious as Jacobi’s and DiGiacinto’s who stand to profit by tying up the CVS application in litigation. Concerned Citizens filed an Article 78 against the town a month after the special permit was granted last summer, costing North Castle $37,000 in legal fees so far, she said.

“The tone of the email is Barbara,” DiDonato-Roth said when asked why she suspects her opponent was involved. “The reason for it was the letter from John (Cronin) who questioned her conflicts of interest.”

She also dismissed DiGiacinto’s assertions that she doesn’t own any property, citing her appearance before the board on a market license for a property in Banksville.

DiDonato-Roth said her one business dealing with Werber was for a rental of a small commercial space and ended before she began serving on the board. She said she grudgingly decided to recuse herself on the Chabad vote out of expediency.

“I thought it was easier, the (town attorney) thought it was easier if I did, DiDonato-Roth said.






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