By Douglas Moser
---- — METHUEN — A prominent real estate agent was nominated to fill a vacancy on the Board of Assessors, which reviews property valuation appeals.
Janet McLennan, who owns a Century21 office on Broadway, was nominated by Mayor Stephen Zanni to fill a vacancy on the three-member board when former member Arthur Hutton died in May.
Several councilors at first wondered about a conflict of interest, since she may be making decisions on properties she is or has been involved with and since property values can influence a real estate agent’s commission.
However, Kopelman & Paige, the law firm that represents the city, told her a conflict would be avoided by a full disclosure by McLennan of her job and any properties she had worked on.
Pappalardo said she was satisfied.
”She’s a big real estate person in the Valley. As long as everything is disclosed, I would support her appointment,” she said.
Councilor Thomas Ciulla said he was hesitant, until an opinion on a conflict of interest was made.
But both he and Pappalardo said they thought she would be a strong appointment.
“She’s a wonderful woman and an active person in our community,” Ciulla said. “She’d be great. She’s knowledgeable of the industry. We always look for talented people.”
Zanni said he did not believe there was a conflict.
“She brings a lot to the community,” he said. “She’s going to be an asset to that board.”
McLennan, who has owned the business for nearly 30 years, said she would avoid conflicts of interest by recusing herself from decisions that involve properties she has worked with, though she said the probability of that is low.
”Having information about housing and values and market trends would make sense,” she said. “I think I would be able to bring good information and knowledge to the board.”
Other communities have real estate agents on their boards of assessors, including North Andover, where agent David Minicucci is a member. Minicucci did not return a message seeking comment.
McLennan is scheduled to receive a vote before the City Council tonight.
The Board of Assessors had been unchanged for 16 years. Thomas Hoye Jr., an appraiser, was the newest member, first appointed in 1997, according to the assessor’s office. Arthur Fyfe and Hutton served on it since 1991. Each member is appointed to three-year terms.
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