HARTFORD— Roger O’Brien, the city’s planning director, has been terminated, effective Wednesday, city officials said.
O’Brien has 21 days to accept or decline the terms of the city’s retirement package, said Maribel La Luz, a spokeswoman for Mayor Pedro Segarra. Segarra would not say why O’Brien was terminated and declined further comment.
O’Brien could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
He had been suspended, with pay, since Aug. 22. He was placed on administrative leave while his department underwent a comprehensive review, according to a source.
Segarra asked Thomas Deller, the city’s new director of development, to review the department and the city’s permitting practices and report back to him in late October. O’Brien’s suspension was part of that review, the source said.
Deller could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
O'Brien was named in a lawsuit filed in May that charges that he interfered with efforts to develop land at 1400 Main St. The property's owner, Sharon Shapiro, sued O'Brien and the city, charging that O'Brien blocked efforts to develop the site, where Shapiro had planned to build a McDonald’s restaurant.
Shapiro also stated in the lawsuit that O'Brien exhibited bias against her, her husband and Northland Investment Corp. Chairman Larry Gottesdiener by saying during a meeting, “You Jews from Boston” were not going to tell him what to do. Northland had been lending its support to the project, the suit says.
Shapiro's company is seeking more than $15,000 in damages.
O'Brien said in June that he could not comment on the lawsuit because city policy prohibits him from discussing pending litigation.
City officials said O'Brien's suspension and firing were not related to the lawsuit.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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