Albert Tempesta, 60, alleges he was fired because of his age and because he alerted selectmen about a possible illegal Benton town planning board meeting about a controversial cell tower proposal, according to Centralmaine.com. Tempesta was dismissed as part-time code enforcement officer and is suing the town, accusing it of discriminating against him because of his age and because he alerted selectmen about a possible illegal meeting of planning board members over a controversial cell tower proposal. In his lawsuit, Tempesta said he attended a July 14, 2015, meeting of the Benton Planning Board about a proposed 80-foot U.S. Cellular tower on Benton Avenue, a controversial project that the board ultimately rejected in January this year.
Tempesta said he locked up the office after the meeting and went outside where he found three of the six Planning Board members and a state senator from Benton, “having a discussion of the earlier meeting and how to turn down this application.”
Tempesta said he reminded one of them “that he should know better than to have a meeting with three Planning Board members and to discuss what they were discussing,” according to a letter the code officer wrote to selectmen on July 21, which is included in the lawsuit. Another in the group “responded that there was always a squealer in the bunch.” Tempesta added in his note to selectmen, which he described as a “cover your butt letter.”
Like many states, Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, a public proceeding requires prior public notice and is defined as “a meeting of a body or agency consisting of three or more persons.”
Centralmaine.com reported the proposed cell tower sparked outrage among some residents, with some nearby property owners telling the Planning Board they were concerned about health and safety problems.