DELMAR — The Bethlehem Town Board directed its highway superintendent to cease and desist from receiving anymore free dirt from contractors doing business in town following a unanimous vote on Wednesday, Dec. 8.
Town Board members agreed with the town’s Ethics Board which handed down a recommendation after investigating a complaint against Highway Superintendent Marc Dorsey in October. The complaint accused Dorsey of receiving free truckloads of fill from Schenectady-based developer Hodorowski Homes, LLC. The excess fill was delivered to his home residence in Selkirk on two separate occasions, December 2020 and February 2021.
“This is new ground for us — it’s never happened before,” said Town Board member Dan Coffey, following a summary of the case’s timeline read by Town Supervisor David VanLuven. Wednesday night’s decision concludes a string of events that includes several executive session meetings. In those meetings, Town Board members received legal advice and interviewed the first-term highway czar. “With regards that Mr. Dorsey should cease and desist, it was represented to us that he had already agreed to do that.”
Dorsey has admitted to accepting the fill and said he has held a permit to do so for the past five years. In September, he told the Ethics Board that he accepted the dirt because it had no value. He later shared with The Spotlight that if the fill had value the developer would have sold it instead of providing it for free.
Ethics Board members deliberated over two sections of the town’s ethics code, one pertaining to the act of a Town official using his position to secure financial or material benefit, and another regarding a Town officer accepting or receiving gifts. Once the board shared its recommendation to the Town Board — a first since the citizen advisory board was formed in 2012 — it concluded that Dorsey violated code that prevents his position from receiving “a gift of any value.”
In its October 12 letter to the Town Board, Ethics Board members noted how they reviewed signed confirmation that Dorsey received ethics training prior to assuming his role as highway superintendent, yet he told the board he had not received such training.
“It is our recommendation that Mr. Dorsey should be directed to cease and desist from accepting in the future any full or excess dirt from Hodorowski Builders or any construction company or person doing business in or with the Town,” stated Ethics Board Chairperson Michael Hutter.
Hodorowski Builders is the developer of Legends Of Bethlehem, a residential development consisting of single-family and townhouse units off Glenmont Road in Glenmont.
The timing of the complaint led Dorsey to believe it was intended to draw votes away from him in November. His first two-year term expires at the end of the year. While the complaint was filed in late August, he was running for reelection against former highway superintendent John Anastasi. Details of the complaint surfaced just weeks prior to Election Day. Nonetheless, Dorsey beat Anastasi on an election night that observed each Bethlehem Democrat winning their respective seat.
The review of Dorsey’s case prompted Coffey to ask the Ethics Board to revisit the town’s Code of Ethics document for possible revisions and to report back to the Town Board. The five-person advisory committee has since advertised for three openings on the board. The three-year terms of Timothy Hannigan, Teresa Newcomb and Lisa Allendorph expire at the end of the year.
Allendorph was among the first members on the board when it formed in 2012.