Utopia (closed process)
Blue Back Square (open process):
how about closer to
HOW ARE ZONING DECISIONS
CT Plan of C&D,
Affordable housing law,
Schools (construction &
development in Weston...
Sewers; are there alternatives?
Special Permit regulations?
Non-conformity: use of land or buildings...how
about latest situations in Weston?.
Republicans recoil at emergency zoning bill for Milford
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
February 29, 2012
The Senate voted 22 to 12 on Wednesday for final passage of emergency
legislation that negates a court decision involving a Milford project
and restores local zoning control over solid-waste facilities.
Overcoming a general aversion to curtailing home-rule, every Republican
senator voted no except Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, and Sen. Michael
McLachlan, R-Danbury, whose city is fighting a proposal for a second
"It affects a case in Danbury," McLachlan said, succinctly explaining
his break with the GOP caucus. "Having said that, I'm not at all
comfortable with the process."
The bill sped to a vote in the House last week and the Senate on
Wednesday without review by any legislative committee or being subject
to a public hearing, a rush designed to stop final permitting of the
expansion of Milford recycling facility.
"Any time you go retroactive, that's shameful," said Sen. Anthony
Guglielmo, R-Stafford. "Not good. Not a good day for this place."
Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, said the legislation is meant to
correct a mistake made in the final days of the 2006 session, when a
poorly drafted amendment inadvertently ended the local zoning control.
But Sen. Leonard Fasano, R-North Haven, said Slossberg was wrong, that
the amendment in question affected solid-waste disposal, a legal
reference to landfills, not solid-waste facilities, which refer to
transfer stations and recycling.
By giving municipalities more control over such facilities, siting them
may become impossible, Fasano said.
Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, the co-chairman of the Environment
Committee, said the legislation before the Senate does not give
municipalities total control. Local zoning authorities, for example,
cannot bar waste facilities under the bill, but it can impose
conditions over their location and use.
"It's a balanced bill," Meyer said.
In the House, Republicans took turns rising to oppose the bill,
decrying the process. But when the roll call was taken, their fealty to
home-rule overcome their distaste for the process.
The bill passed 120 to 8.
In the Senate, distaste for the process overcame concerns about
home-rule, although some senators want to be clear what their
"I am for local control," said Sen. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich. If that
wasn't clear, he added ,"I am in favor of local control."
sends FOI fix to Malloy's desk
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
February 29, 2012
An emergency fix to Connecticut's Freedom of Information law -- crafted
without a public hearing or committee review -- was headed to Gov.
Dannel P. Malloy's desk following Wednesday's unanimous Senate vote.
The measure, designed to clear legal obstacles blocking the release of
voter lists and other omnibus public registries, has been criticized by
right-to-know advocates who argue that it offers little security to the
protected public employees it is designed to safeguard.
"This bill attempts to strike a balance" between the public's right to
know and government's efforts to safeguard police officers, prison
guards and other employees in sensitive roles, said Sen. Gayle
Slossberg, D-Milford, co-chairwoman of the Government Administration
and Elections Committee.
The measure, which the House adopted 120-11 last week, was crafted in
response to last June's state Supreme Court ruling, which held that a
statute barring disclosure of home addresses of protected employees
applied to the motor vehicle registration lists that communities use to
prepare property tax bills.
Based on that ruling, legislators said it became clear that the statute
also would apply to other common governmental databases, including
voter registration lists.
Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill said she hasn't released an
updated statewide voter registration list since that ruling, arguing
there was no way to do so and be certain that the law -- as interpreted
by the courts -- wouldn't be violated.
In theory the lists could be released, provided the addresses of all
protected employees first were removed. But Merrill noted it would
require cross-referencing data from hundreds of state and municipal
records, noting that neither she, nor municipal clerks, have the
resources to find all of these names.
The measure adopted Thursday identifies three major classes of records
that must be released, in full, to the public starting June 1:
Municipal land records;
Voter registration lists, logs of absentee ballot
applications and related election information;
And municipal grand lists, the databases that detail
assessed values of land, buildings, motor vehicles subject to property
The measure does allow protected employees to submit a request in
writing to municipal record-keepers, asking that their addresses be
kept private when secondary databases are released to the public.
But critics argued this offers very little protection.
Both the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association and the Connecticut
Council on Freedom of Information criticized the legislature for
rushing now -- without a public hearing -- to solve a problem that has
existed since last summer.
Colleen Murphy, executive director of the state Freedom of Information
Commission, said she also fears that the House bill offers "somewhat
illusory protections" to select public employees, since the largest
record databases aren't subjected to redaction.
Though Republican Sens. Leonard A. Fasano of North Haven and Joseph
Markley of Southington voted for the bill, they also argued that the
measure was hurried and should be revisited before the regular session
ends in early May.
The legislature should be working more closely with municipal clerks
across Connecticut to find the best possible solution to the challenges
posed by the court ruling, Fasano said. "We should hear from the
clerks," he said. "We call this the people's house, but the doors are
"The emergency certification process is a dangerous tool in our hands,"
Leaders of the legislature's Democratic majority have said it was
important to act now once it became clear there was a consensus on how
House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, a candidate for
Congress, acknowledged that the unavailability of voting lists in an
election year is a problem.
Malloy offered a different solution that had won support both from the
newspaper association and from CCFOI.
The governor's bill would have returned the FOI law to its pre-1999
status when it came to protected public employees, keeping only those
workers' personnel records confidential.
The governor's spokesman, Andrew Doba, said last week that while the
emergency bill "goes in a different direction than the governor's
legislation, the bill is acceptable."
would young, highly mobile people move to CT?
Zoning inhibits housing growth, panelists say
New London DAY
By Lee Howard
published Sep 10, 2011
Connecticut towns need to get used
to the idea that affordable homes to attract young professionals and
emergency-services personnel will require higher-density development
and less restrictive zoning regulations than currently exist, officials
said Friday during a-housing forum at the Mohegan Sun Convention Center.
"The major impediment to affordable
housing is local zoning regulations that prevent the kind of density
that would make it affordable," said Bill Attridge, board member of the
Old Saybrook-based HOPE Partnership that collaborates on housing
projects along the shoreline and in Middlesex County.
Attridge was one of 10 speakers at
the forum sponsored by the Partnership for Strong Communities and other
housing-related organizations and attended by about 75 town and state
officials, builders and real-estate brokers. This was the seventh
affordable-housing forum held throughout the state, out of a total of
13 scheduled meetings.
"Connecticut just hasn't built much
housing in the past," said David Fink, policy director for the
Partnership for Strong Communities, a statewide advocacy group for
sensible housing solutions. "And what we have built is not really what
"The days of building McMansions are
gone," added John Bolduc, executive director of the Eastern Connecticut
Association of Realtors. "Builders today need to realize that right now
the market is at the workforce-housing (affordable) level."
With the state having lost a higher
percentage of its population in the 25- to 34-year-old age range than
any other state over the past two decades, Fink said it's time to build
smaller, more efficient homes while busting some of the myths
surrounding affordable housing. The myths involve crime increases,
school-population overload and devaluation of property values, among
others, he said. All
of these perceived problems are misconceptions, according to the
housing advocates at the forum.
"Affordable housing is nothing you
should be afraid of," said Geoffrey Sager, president of the Metro
Realty Group that builds homes across the state.
Sager showed off slides of
attractive affordable-housing projects his company has designed, all of
them for the rental market.
"In a lot of communities, rental
housing is a dirty word," Sager acknowledged.
But by developing good relationships
with town officials, he said, builders of affordable housing can make a
go of it. It is intimidating, though, that it often takes $250,000 just
to get started on the planning phase of the project, Sager said.
"We need density and a predictable
approval path," he said.
And for those willing to build and
needing pre-development funding, Mike Santoro of the state Department
of Economic and Community Development said, Connecticut has money to
lend - $100 million over the next two years through the Home Investment
Partnership Program. But
money alone is not the answer, according to the forum speakers.
Perceptions and regulations must be changed before any real progress on
affordable housing can be made, they said.
Connecticut faces the possibility of
a widespread devaluation of its housing stock if it doesn't develop
more affordable places for young people to live, said David Kooris,
vice president of the Regional Plan Association. He said that without
young professionals buying up the homes of baby boomers, a domino
effect could eventually lower the values of homes everywhere as
higher-priced houses no longer will find as many interested buyers.
Berlin couple challenging Old Lyme's
right to determine seasonal/year-round housing
partly on infringement of constitutional rights, lists 40 plaintiffs
By Jenna Cho, New London Day Staff Writer
Article published Dec 4, 2010
Old Lyme - They may be in town for only part of the year, but seasonal
residents who pay full taxes despite not being allowed to occupy their
summer homes in the off-season are tired of being treated like
second-class citizens, said Stephen Anderson of Rogers Lake.
The Andersons, who live in Berlin the rest of the year and are the
owners of at least 20 other properties in town, are heading to federal
court to challenge the town's attempt to determine which homes are
seasonal and which are year-round. It is the second court
challenge Old Lyme has faced on the issue; the first was filed in 1999
and settled two years ago before the federal court judge had a chance
to determine whether a set of 1995 zoning laws violated residents'
constitutional right to due process.
"We bought an old cottage that was built in the 1920s, and my family
and I have lived there and enjoyed it all these years," said Anderson,
a retired lawyer. "We've been able to just use it in the summer, but I
don't want to be precluded from using the property - (from) somebody
using it, my kids using it year-round if they want."
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Wednesday plan to request
class-action status, which could mean monetary damages paid for all
homeowners subjected to the town's attempt for the past 15 years to
classify homes as seasonal and year-round, said Paul Spinella of the
Hartford law firm Spinella and Associates. That's about 1,540
homeowners in the R-10 residential zone, where homes have historically
been used as summer cottages, in a town of about 7,400 residents. The
town maintains it has the right to categorize homes as either seasonal
or year-round in the R-10 zone because of public health and safety
concerns in neighborhoods where houses are closely packed on
quarter-acre lots that line narrow streets.
The seasonal registry that went into effect Dec. 31 required those who
wanted year-round status to prove they had been living in their Old
Lyme homes year-round since Dec. 31, 1999. The lawsuit claims that the
process, which is a variation of the 1995 attempt to classify homes as
seasonal and year-round that was also challenged in court, is
arbitrary, unconstitutional and does not allow for due process under
the Fifth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
The draft complaint also alleges that the so-called seasonal registry
process denies residents equal protection of the law because it
prohibits certain residents from occupying their homes between December
"No government can come in and say, 'You can't use that land,' "
Spinella said. "You own it."
Furthermore, the complaint reads, the town also infringed on residents'
rights under the U.S. and state constitutions when, in an out-of-court
settlement of the South Lyme Property Owners Association's 1999
lawsuit, it granted the 400 or so association members automatic
year-round status. Plaintiffs in that lawsuit got a "golden
ticket" to year-round status that was arranged in a secretive manner
and has eluded the rest of the homeowners in the R-10 zone who also
want year-round status, Spinella said.
"You really have an outrageous set of circumstances in the town imposed
by this (zoning) regulation … and it's capricious," Spinella said.
Timothy Griswold, Old Lyme's first selectman, did not return a phone
call seeking comment Friday. Eric Knapp, the town's zoning attorney,
previously said the seasonal registry was simply intended to settle a
longstanding question on which homes are seasonal and which are
year-round in order to enforce zoning regulations. The lawsuit
lists more than 40 plaintiffs, many from the Point O' Woods beach community. The
number of plaintiffs is growing by the day, Spinella said.
Old Lyme Zoning Enforcement Officer Ann Brown, members of the Zoning
Commission and Griswold are listed as defendants.
Historic District Rejects Synagogue
By RINKER BUCK And ELIZABETH HAMILTON | Courant Staff Writers
December 21, 2007
LITCHFIELD - — An orthodox Jewish group and the borough of Litchfield
moved one step closer to a court battle over religious freedom on
Thursday night after the historic district commission denied the
organization's application to turn a Victorian home into a synagogue.
For the past six months, Rabbi Joseph Eisenbach of the Chabad-Lubavitch
congregation has been meeting with the commission about his plans to
restore a house on West Street and build an addition of about 20,000
square feet on the edge of the town's historic district.
But in Thursday night's action — a seven-page decision read out loud by
acting commission Chairman Joseph Montebello — the commission said it
was denying the existing application and would welcome a new
application by Chabad-Lubavitch only if it scaled back its plans to a
total of 6,000 square feet.
The commission made it clear that it had worked hard to avoid any
semblance of prejudice against Chabad-Lubavitch's plan to build the
town's first synagogue, and the decision cited two recent federal
decisions on religious freedom in zoning decisions.
"Several people worked very hard all day drafting this decision so that
we would look completely fair," Montebello said during a recess in the
But in remarks after the hearing, Eisenbach and his attorney, Dwight
Merriam of Hartford, indicated they were not prepared to reduce the
scale of their building and might rest court complaints on the
principle of religious freedom. They also pointed out the proposed
synagogue would be in a neighborhood with three other congregations —
Episcopalian, Methodist and Roman Catholic — that have structures
substantially larger than the building envisioned by Chabad-Lubavitch.
"We deliberately picked this site two years ago because we wanted to be
at the center of religious worship in Litchfield and contribute to the
life of the town," Eisenbach said.
"All the Chabad wants is to be treated like other religions, to be on
church row and have a structure of equal size to those churches,"
Merriam said. "But the commission has denied us that right tonight, and
there are many remedies under the law with which to proceed."
While the denial of Chabad-Lubavitch's controversial plans to renovate
and expand a 135-year-old West Street home could result in legal action
against the historic district commission, it was the outcome those who
opposed the project were seeking.
About 70 residents, according to one published report, had joined
together in recent weeks to fight Chabad-Lubavitch. They hired Danbury
attorney Neil Marcus and brought in a historical architect earlier this
week to testify against the plans on the grounds that the building
wouldn't meld with the rest of the historic district.
The commission appears to have agreed with the opponents. It rejected
arguments from Chabad-Lubavitch's lawyers Thursday night that the
proposal had special protection under the First Amendment because they
are a religious organization.
Instead, the commission followed advice from its own legal counsel, who
said commissioners had an obligation under the law to treat the
application as they would any other — regardless of its intended use.
The commission objected to the size and scope of the proposed addition
— which would result in a building that contains a synagogue, indoor
pool and 5,000-square foot home for the rabbi and his family, among
other things — as well as plans to install a clock tower from the roof
of the original structure.
It denied the application in a motion that gives Chabad-Lubavitch an
opportunity to resubmit plans for a much smaller building without a
clock tower. Instead, the commission would allow Chabad-Lubavitch to
install a finial with a Star of David atop the building.
The decision was expected by Eisenbach, who issued a statement after
the vote Thursday.
"Over the last six months we were given a laundry list of changes every
time we met with the commission and we made over 40 changes," Eisenbach
said. "But now they have denied us and we have many options. Within a
week, we will make a decision about what to do."
Chabad-Lubavitch now has three options: scale down its plans and
resubmit them to the commission; appeal the decision in Superior Court
within 15 days of the published decision under current state land use
laws; or appeal the decision under the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act, otherwise known as RLUIPA.
The act, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 2000, was
intended to provide stronger protection for religious freedom in
land-use and prison cases.
In the land-use context, the federal law prohibits government agencies
from imposing regulations in a way that would impose a substantial
burden on the religious exercise of a person or group, unless it can
prove that there is a compelling government interest or is the least
restrictive means of furthering that interest.
The project has provoked intense interest — and disagreement — since
its inception. At a September pre-hearing, some members of the
commission, including the chairwoman, questioned whether the Star of
David "complied with the district" and questioned the appropriateness
of other aspects of the plan, including the use of Jerusalem stone, the
stained glass windows and the clock tower.
Accusations of anti-Semitism were leveled against the chairwoman, who
is Jewish, and she eventually recused herself from deliberations. But
the controversy didn't end there.
Residents who attended the final public hearing on the plans urged the
commission not to be "bullied" by Chabad-Lubavitch or the threat of
litigation. Others left the hearing shortly after Eisenbach stood up to
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Anti-Defamation League also
both weighed in on the controversy, writing separate letters reminding
the commission that it must take into consideration Chabad-Lubavitch's
rights under the First Amendment and RLUIPA.
"If this case is litigated, it is hard to imagine that the Congregation
will have difficulty meeting its burden to show that the commission's
application of zoning laws substantially burdens the congregation's
exercise of religion," said a Dec. 13 letter from the Anti-Defamation
League to the commission.
ROBERT KOCH, Hour Staff Writer
Developer touts new vision for West Ave.
November 30, 2006
— Wide tree-lined sidewalks, outdoor cafes, a theater, medical office,
shops and restaurants, condominiums and townhouses, and parking on
every block are part of local developer Stanley M. Seligson's latest
vision for West Avenue.
Wednesday night, a day after being named preferred developer for the
West Avenue Corridor Redevelopment Plan, Seligson and his urban design
consultant presented their new conceptual plan to the West Norwalk
Neighborhood Association during an outreach meeting at Norwalk
from the plan, following roughly four-dozen public meetings over as
many years, are super blocks, super stores and super-sized parking
really about two things: The great front door of West Avenue and this
collection of smaller streets ... with 20-foot-wide sidewalks, mature
trees from day one, and nice little places for people to gather," said
Richard E. Heapes, partner with Street-Works LLC, the White
Plains-based design firm hired by Stanley M. Seligson Properties to put
forward ways to implement the West Avenue Corridor plan.
two decades, Seligson has sought to revitalize the area around his
offices at 605 West Ave. As recently as 2004, an earlier conceptual
plan, which included large parking garages and several large
floor-plate retail spaces, met stiff opposition from members of various
Wednesday night, West Norwalk residents received his revamped plan.
seen the evolution in your plan, I have to commend you. This is clearly
a step in the right direction," David S. Davidson said.
Avenue made into a boulevard, and a new north-south street running
parallel to West Avenue and Academy Street, between both, mark the only
major changes to existing street layout.
boutiques and restaurants would line the street level of the new
street. Condominiums would rise up to five stories above. Academy and
other periphery streets would become home to two- or three-story
single-family townhouses. An anchor department store, some lifestyle
retailers, such as a Barnes & Noble Booksellers, would occupy West
Avenue, albeit not at street level.
the presentation, Seligson and Heapes invited comments and suggestions.
does this relate to the waterfront? We're putting absolutely no money
in the waterfront," said George Dombakly. "Maybe there should be a
railroad spur and there could be a ferry off the Norwalk Harbor."
the Common Council accepts Seligson's conceptual plan, Seligson must
work within the framework of the West Avenue Corridor Redevelopment
Plan. Drafted by the Redevelopment Agency and approved by the council
last June, it allows for up to 350 new residential units, 75,000 square
feet of office space and 393,174 square feet of new retail space in the
core area. Limited development would be permitted on the west side of
West Avenue. The Harbor Avenue neighborhood would be preserved.
city said that should be a a neighborhood preservation area," Seligson
Costello, another resident, asked about those already living or working
in the area.
will be displaced? What is the economic demographics?" Costello asked.
council, in naming Seligson the preferred developer Tuesday night,
acknowledged that he owns roughly 70 percent of the land within the
core redevelopment area.
speaking Wednesday night, said he has purchased and is renting about 20
residential units in the plan area, and is seeking to purchase six to
eight more units. Overall, 350 units will be created with 10 percent of
those units set aside as workforce housing.
my goal to offer replacement housing as best I can, and I think we will
be successful," Seligson said. And "our plan is to relocate those
businesses that want to be relocated. In a perfect world, I would hope
there would be no eminent domain."
and Violet Pernicka, who have lived in Norwalk for a half century, left
the presentation pleased that West Avenue will be reshaped but fearful
that they might not live to see it.
think it would be lovely and beautiful, but we'll not be here to see
it," Violet Pernicka said.
Pernicka described the West Avenue neighborhood as dying and in need of
a change. His only concern, he said, is that Seligson is "proposing ...
an awful lot to put in one area."
the council approval Tuesday night, Selgison has until March 16, 2007
to present the city an acceptable development team and conceptual plan.
That failing, the city will seek other developers. By that time, the
development team also will provide information about traffic, parking
and financing, Heapes said.
night's presentation, done at the invitation of the West Norwalk
Neighborhood Association, marked the third such outreach meeting to
neighborhood groups, according to Maribeth Becker, coordinator of the
Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations.
while not at the presentation, has seen Seligson's new plan at two
previous presentations. Although the coalition has taken a stance on
the plan, she described it as an improvement.
could really see an improvement and a listening to the public," Becker
said. The new plan "addresses a lot of the concerns."
T. Adams, vice president of development for Seligson, indicated that
more public input is welcome.
trying to educate (the public) and get back feedback," Adams said. "We
want to come up with the best plan that reflects the extent of our
Blue Back Square
Battle Formally Ends
By DANIEL P.
JONES, Courant Staff Writer
April 24, 2007
WEST HARTFORD -- The last remaining count of a lawsuit by Blue Back
Square opponents backed by Westfarms mall has been dismissed, formally
ending a bitter and ultimately losing battle to block the $158.8
The final part of the legal battle, an allegation that town actions to
borrow $48.8 million for the town's portions of the project were
"arbitrary and capricious," was dismissed as moot. The developers are
well into construction and plan to open part of the project next month
and the entire development in November.
Superior Court Judge Dennis G. Eveleigh dismissed the remaining count
last week and town officials were notified late last week, West
Hartford deputy corporation counsel Pat Alair said Monday. Seven of
eight counts were dismissed in September 2005.
Mayor Scott Slifka said that the opponents didn't win a single round in
the fight but the delays caused by the lawsuit meant that full annual
parking, property tax, and special services district revenues from the
Blue Back Square development have been pushed back by about a year.
When completed, the project is expected to add about $2.8 million to
the town's annual net revenue.
Town officials estimate West Hartford has spent about $500,000 to
defend against the lawsuit.
"With the budget coming upon us we've had a number of residents ask
about the Blue Back effect in the hope that it would offset some
expected budget increases," Slifka said Monday. "And we've had to
explain that the full revenue has not yet been realized because of the
delays to the project."
Slifka said many of the residents who have been critical of the town's
proposed spending plan for next fiscal year also were opponents of Blue
Back Square. The town council tonight is expected to reduce the town
manager's proposed budget and vote on the spending plan. But council
members have not said how much they plan to cut from the proposed
The plaintiffs - town residents Barbara Scully, Jasyn Sadler and Ellen
Burchill Brassil - could have filed a request to withdraw their
lawsuit, Alair said.
Instead, the plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss their own suit, he
said. But the court concluded that Connecticut's rules governing
lawsuits do not allow plaintiffs to file motions to have their own
So the developer, BBS Development, filed a motion to dismiss the suit
and the town joined that move through oral arguments in court.
Scully has moved to Florida. Reached by telephone in Florida, she said
she did not want to comment on the dismissal of the last count of the
Scully had alleged in the lawsuit opposing Blue Back Square, filed in
early 2005, that, among other things, the development would harm the
economic value of her home. According to town records, she bought her
condominium at 3 Burr St. in West Hartford for $115,000 in 2002, and
sold it for $181,000 earlier this year.
The residents contended the project and traffic would harm their
neighborhood setting and quality of life, and decrease their property
values, while putting the town under financial stress and driving up
their property taxes.
The residents signed "indemnity agreements" with Westfarms' corporate
parent, Michigan-based Taubman Co. The agreements, which later came to
light in court proceedings, handed total control of the lawsuit to
The lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, Thomas E. Katon, could not be
reached for comment.
Blue Back and Forth:
West Hartford's retail future decided in dramatic vote! Again!
by Adam Bulger -Hartford ADVOCATE
June 30, 2005
West Hartford's second Blue Back
Square referendum was not even close. (See Weston referenda story
June 22 West Hartford voters decided
by a two-to-one margin that the town could amend its agreement with the
Blue Back Square developers, BBS LLC, and begin construction on the
space downtown. The final vote was 11,861 in favor of the project and
was the second townwide referendum
over Blue Back Square. The first, held on October 12, 2004 had a
groundbreaking for the project
is set for August. High-profile commercial tenants like Crate and
and Bow Tie Partners movie theaters have committed to the project.
natural foods supermarket Whole Foods is set to open across the
It was like election day on the West Hartford streets, and the
forces outclassed the anti-development forces, at least in terms of the
way they ran their campaign.
around 1:30 on June 22,
I started to notice the small blue stickers people were wearing. The
read "Support West Hartford."
the stickers had something
to do with Blue Back Square. But were the sticker wearers opposed to
multi-use development, or in favor of it? It could really go either
Then I saw Jackie Wammock and Mindy McCloskey holding "Vote Yes Blue
Square" signs and wearing the stickers. Mystery solved. I asked
they had voted that day. They told me they hadn't and couldn't. Neither
were West Hartford residents; both were from Atlanta and had
connections to Blue Back. McCloskey and Wammock are the CFO and vice
respectively, of Ronus, a commercial real estate development company
is one of the partners in the Blue Back Square project. They weren't
or volunteers; they were doing their jobs.
is what we usually do," McCloskey
said. "I mean working for Ronus, not carry[ing] around signs."
led me to the pro-Blue Back Square nerve center and introduced me to
people behind the campaign to bring Blue Back Square to West Hartford.
headquarters -- located in a
long, narrow room next to a bagel shop on Farmington Avenue in West
Center -- had the hectic, urgent air of the last minutes of a political
campaign. Spread across the room were eight folding tables covered with
computer pages printed with the names and phone numbers of West
staff members hovered over
the sheets with highlighter markers. The information on the pages was
indicating what seemed to be each area's Blue Back Square voting
and whether residents had voted that day. Staffers manned telephones
called West Hartford residents who hadn't yet gone to the polls.
all about getting out the vote,"
Blue Back Square designer Richard Heapes said. "We believe that if we
a substantial turnout, we win. Apathy is the only way we lose."
Heapes said that all the people present were volunteers, aside from he
and his immediate staff.
I told him that Wammock and
McCloskey had both admitted to being professionally affiliated, he said
they needed "all hands on deck."
the front part of the office,
a small table offered stickers and literature -- such as photo-copied
from the Courant and the Advocate.
The Blue Back Square developers
sent people to the 20 different voting locations to have a real-time
of the vote. Ainsly Karl, a young woman in an aqua blue Juicy
sweatsuit sat among the poll workers at Hall High School on North Main
Street. She told me she was hired by the developers to record the names
of the voters as they said them out loud to the poll workers.
other workers from the pro-development team would stop by and pick up
names from Karl.
don't know what they do with the
information," Karl said.
later, David Jones of the
Blue Back Square advocacy group YES for West Hartford downplayed the
of the developers' professional get-out-the-vote effort. He said the
matter in the overwhelming support for the project was a shift in
among West Hartford voters.
first referendum vote was 60/40,
and the second was 70/30," Jones said. "Many people who originally
'no' voted 'yes' this time because they were upset with the people who
couldn't accept the vote of the first referendum." Despite the
last week, Jones says he is girded for a continued fight from opponents.
the opposition seems
unwilling to accept the vote of the West Hartford people," he
Blue Back Square's opponents didn't have the same high-level operation
or street presence as the development camp.
didn't have a lot of money,"
said Joseph Visconti, one the leaders of Save the Center, the major
of the plan. "We spent about six grand, which is nothing, especially
to what the developers spent." As a result, some feel they
able to get their message across.
lot of people were confused,"
Visconti said. "They didn't know what the vote was about."
Save the Center money went into
buying an ad in the Courant's Connecticut section the week before the
and the creation and distribution of a five-page pamphlet. The
is a fake newspaper called "Spotlight," which features various
about Blue Back and some accusations flung at town officials.
flyer includes allegations about
the past conduct of West Hartford Town Manager Barry Feldman. Feldman
town manager of Portsmouth, Ohio until 1981. The pamphlet reprints a
of complaints about Feldman that originally appeared in Ohio newspaper
the Portsmouth Daily Times , which include failure to comply with the
charter and withholding valuable information. The pamphlet suggests
the town manager has similarly failed in his duties in West Hartford as
he did in Ohio.
section of the pamphlet was,
let's say, controversial.
allegations about Barry are
absolutely despicable," Heapes said.
to Visconti, a group of
about 40 volunteers distributed about 15,000 of the flyers, which cost
$4,300 to print. Visconti said the campaign crippled his personal
(according to court documents, Citibank is suing Visconti for
He claims the debt was incurred in the course of the anti-Blue Back
Save the Center has accepted
funding from Taubman Center, the owners of Westfarms Mall and a sworn
of Blue Back, Visconti said that Taubman had no involvement with Save
Center's campaign during the June referendum, and he bristled at the
that his group was a proxy for Westfarms Mall.
group became active in 2003,"
Visconti said. "It wasn't until 2004 that we found out about the mall."
Centers, based in Michigan,
owns Westfarms Mall, as well as a host of shopping centers across the
They have routinely used court action in attempts to stall or sabotage
emerging competition. The practice has been called "a death by 1,000
Recently, Taubman centers brought in attorney Neil T. Proto --
by the Courant as a consummate "mallbuster" -- to shut down Blue Black
Square. Reportedly, Taubman has no plans to drop several lawsuits that
are pending to stop Blue Back.
I spoke with Visconti after
the referendum vote he was still on fire about corruption and conflicts
of interest in the West Hartford government. He regretted that he
compete with the developers' efforts.
the beginning, we were painted
as John Denvers who didn't want development. But that's not who we
he said. Now, the Save the Center group will disband, he said, in the
of the referendum. He said that while individuals may still act against
Blue Back Square, the group was finished.
said our piece. We showed that
it was a done deal," Visconti said.
Down And Out In Johnsonville:
A thriving mill village that was
transformed into a quaint historic attraction, the 64-acre site in East
Haddam is now poised for a new life after nearly a decade of disuse.
By Eileen McNamara
Published on 12/10/2006
East Haddam -- There's something forlorn about the picturesque village
of Johnsonville. With its sweeping lawns and collection of old houses
and buildings of Victorian and colonial style, the showcase hamlet in
the middle of this rural town looks like something right out of a
Hollywood movie set — except that, for nearly 10 years, it has been as
empty as a set gone dark.
The quaint clapboard-sided meeting house where Billy Joel filmed his
“River of Dreams” video is still there, but its door is locked, a “No
Trespassing” sign nailed to it.
No weddings have taken place at the nearby white chapel with the blue
double doors since the privately owned village was abandoned in the
early 1990s by then-owner and multimillionaire Raymond Schmitt.
Schmitt, who made a fortune with a Stamford-based aerospace parts
company he founded, bought the property where Johnsonville now stands
about 40 years ago. The village occupies about 64 acres on either side
of Johnsonville Road, which runs between routes 149 and 151 in the
Moodus section of town.
While the village already had a few original mill houses, Schmitt
created his own little hamlet by adding buildings of mixed architecture
a Victorian carriage house, a colonial-style meeting house and
schoolhouse, a general store, chapel, stables and a toy store. He
purchased them from around the country and had them brought here.
He opened a restaurant in the village and allowed weddings at the
chapel. He bought two side-wheel paddle boats, and local newspapers
chronicled the arrival of one of the them when it was floated up the
Connecticut River to East Haddam and then trucked over land to the
village. He used the boats on the 13-acre Johnsonville Mill Pond, which
This time of year, 20 or 30 years ago, the little village off
Johnsonville Road would be a veritable showpiece of Christmas splendor,
decked out for the holidays. Tourists and families would drive by
night just to gawk at all the lights strung along the white picket
fences and buildings. On weekends people would come to see the
decorations, roam through the buildings and inspect the
multimillion-dollar antique collections inside.
“People with their families would come from all over to see it,” said
Karl Stoffko, the town's historian. “It was really beautiful.”
Today, the village buildings — the post office, restaurant, library —
all stand empty and unadorned. While a caretaker mows the lawns and
keeps an eye on the place, some of the buildings are beginning to fall
into disrepair. The boats on the pond behind the mill office building
are long gone. They were sold and dismantled, their pieces
unceremoniously carted away. Canada geese are all that ply the water
But, if a Danbury-based hotel operator has his way, all that could
change. Though the village would not be restored under his plan, people
— hundreds of them — would likely return to Johnsonville.
Richard Jabara, president and CEO of Meyer Jabara Hotels, bought
Johnsonville three years ago and has proposed a $100 million resort
residential development at Johnsonville. It would have 133 upscale,
single-family houses and townhouses, all built in Victorian style and
with an age restriction for owners. Plans, which also include a health
club, recreation center, meeting hall and post office, call for keeping
and restoring most of the original dozen or so buildings.
Many town leaders have said they like the project by Jabara's
development company, MJABC LLC, because of its potential to breathe new
life into the vacant burg. It would, they say, preserve a town landmark
and bring millions of dollars in tax revenues without straining the
school system. While the proposal hit a major snag more than a
ago after winning wetlands approval, it has received new support in
The delay revolves around a way to provide sewers to the development.
The closest sewer plant is more than 3 miles south along the
Connecticut River, and town officials say there's not enough land to
build on-site septic systems for the size and number of houses
proposed. The developer has sought to meet with the town's Water
Pollution Control Authority to discuss possible options. The WPCA,
however, has refused, saying a formal proposal must be filed first.
Also, Jabara can't file an application with the town's Planning and
Zoning Commission until there is a viable septic plan.
About two weeks ago, there seemed to be a break in the logjam when the
town's Economic Development Commission, under new leadership, decided
to become an advocate for the plan. Following a meeting last week of
Jabara's development team, the EDC and selectmen, the “Johnsonville
Community” proposal has come to the fore again.
When cotton was king in America in the 19th century, the villages of
East Haddam, like many in the industrialized North, took in the South's
crop and produced various products from it. Johnsonville made cotton
twine at two mills, the Neptune and Triton, which used the Moodus River
to produce power. Johnsonville was born from those factories as
workers moved into small homes built near the cotton mills. The people
built a post office and meeting hall.
The decline of the cotton trade and America's textile manufacturing in
the early part of the 1900s also saw the decline of many of the
villages that dot Connecticut, including Johnsonville. Schmitt,
avid antiques collector, bought the mostly abandoned village in 1965 as
a personal retreat. Over the next two decades he rebuilt it.
Then, about 10 years ago, Schmitt — known not only for his
eccentricities but his reluctance for following local zoning rules —
got in a heated dispute with local officials when he started to build a
new pond on his adjacent Echo Farm property. He refused to seek a
permit for the work, and, after the town refused to let him continue,
he abruptly closed the village to any public gatherings, including
weddings at the chapel and receptions at the Red Restaurant.
In January of 1998 Schmitt died of cancer. That September his heirs
decided to auction off Johnsonville and all its contents, as well as
Schmitt's other real estate holdings here, including the 240-acre Echo
Tens of thousands of people came to Johnsonville for the five-day
mega-auction. Martha Stewart made bids via telephone, and within the
first half-hour, $5 million in real estate was sold. The state bought
Echo Farm as open space. By the end of the five days, nearly all of
Schmitt's eclectic antiques collection, which had some 20,000 pieces,
But Johnsonville itself was withdrawn from the auction because bids,
which topped at $1.6 million, were considered too low. The village went
up for sale, and in 2002 MJABC LLC bought the property for $2 million.
Until the sewer issue is resolved, MJABC, which filed the plan for
“Johnsonville Community” in April 2005, appears stalled.
New activity afoot, however, shows promise, said William Sweeney, a
land use consultant MJABC has hired. In mid-November, the
Development Commission, realizing the project was in jeopardy, got
together with the developer, his consultants and selectmen to discuss
how the town can help negotiate an end to the impasse.
Sweeney said the meeting was productive; one option discussed, he said,
was the possibility of Jabara buying more land near the site to
accommodate on-site sewers.
“It's the first time in a long time that we've seen some pro-active
action by the town,” Sweeney said. “It was an encouraging sign.”
Brad Parker, the first selectman, said town leaders support the
project. With an annual budget of about $24 million, he said, the
could use the more than $2 million in tax revenues that Johnsonville
Community could bring. Like many communities in eastern Connecticut,
East Haddam struggles with balancing the desire to retain its rural
character while seeking low-impact developments to broaden its tax
The tax revenue that Jabara's Johnsonville would generate, Parker
noted, could nearly cover the anticipated annual loan payments the town
would have to make for a $34 million middle school now on the drawing
“That doesn't even take into account the personal property taxes the
development would pay, or the money the people who will live there will
spend locally,” Parker said. “There's going to be a positive domino
effect for the whole community.”
sour on sewers
Published October 22 2005
While Board of Selectmen hopefuls do battle at
a League of Women Voters of Greenwich debate Wednesday night at Cos Cob
School, the real fireworks could be at Town Hall, as North Mianus
homeowners protest their tab for a sewer project in their neighborhood.
Some of the 300 property owners who received special pumps from the
town as part of a project to connect their homes to the municipal sewer
system will demand tax relief from the Condemnation Commission, the
town agency responsible for apportioning sewer project costs.
Recipients of the grinder pumps, which homeowners must pay to have
installed and come with warnings about blockages, odors and potential
overflows in case of a power loss, say the town has created a hardship
for those who need them to connect to the sewer system.
But Condemnation Commission Chairman Robert Tuthill doesn't see it that
"We made a decision that there's not going to be something given to
people who have pumps," Tuthill said. "We gave a lot of thought to this
and the thinking was, generally, it was going to save people money if
they had a pump." A substitute for sewer connections that use
gravity, the pumps were mostly chosen for properties below street
level, where major sewer mains run. About 425 homes in the neighborhood
will not require pumps.
Town officials say they chose the grinder pumps to help control the
costs of the $19 million sewer project, which was complicated by thick
rock outcroppings. Divided equally, the average cost per home would be
about $26,000 for the project, but such factors as the amount of street
frontage of a property have generally been used in the past in
reckoning the final tab.
While the town has agreed to pay for and maintain the pumps, property
owners complained that they were never told by town officials that the
eyesore pumps protrude above ground and require special care.
Measuring about 8 feet in height and 30 inches in diameter, the pumps
hold about 70 gallons of waste. But, as several homeowners noted, the
pumps run on electricity and come with warnings of potential backups
during power outages. Each pump also comes with a high-water alarm,
which is designed to alert homeowners of a power loss.
"To me, I think we're getting screwed here," said Albert Nowinski, who
spent about $6,000 to have one of the pumps installed in his River Road
backyard over the summer. In addition to concerns over its
appearance and upkeep, Nowinski complained that the new pump has
increased his electric bill and produced foul odors.
"Every once in a while when the wind's right, you get the smell,"
Nowinski said. "Three years ago, when they had (a) meeting (about the
project), they said nothing about above ground or the smell. To me,
it's not first-class." Nowinski is one of several homeowners to
sign a neighborhood petition seeking a tax rebate for the pumps. Mianus
Valley Association President Sam Romeo plans to present the petition to
the Condemnation Commission during its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday in the
Chimblo meeting room at Town Hall despite Tuthill's recent comments.
"If they want to take the arrogant stance on that one, fine," said
Romeo, who received a gravity connection for his property. "There's
always the court system, and the town has a good track record of losing
lawsuits." Town officials say the pumps, which also are in use in
Milbrook, do not have a history of problems and require a similar level
of care as a septic system.
"These things are supposed to be easy to operate," First Selectman Jim
Lash said. Tuthill, meanwhile, noted that the commission did not
differentiate between homeowners who received grind pumps and those
with gravity connections in apportioning the Milbrook project's costs.
"Now pumps are not beautiful and we realize that. (But) in a few years,
generally speaking, we believe people can screen these," he said.
Tuthill also said that the town gave each homeowner who needed a
grinder pump a $1,000 stipend to help with installation and set aside
additional money for more complicated installations.
"It's possible that we can reconsider North Mianus, but I don't think
we will," Tuthill said.
Blue Back Lawsuit
Dropped; West Hartford Citizens' Group Withdraws Appeal
Over Changes To Old Buildings
By KATIE MELONE, Courant Staff Writer
October 10, 2006
WEST HARTFORD -- A group has ended a legal battle to
stop developers of Blue Back Square from tearing down part of the Board
of Education building and renovating two other town buildings.
The group - West Hartford Initiative to Save Historic Property - has
withdrawn the appeal it had in federal court that sought to revive its
lawsuit, which a judge dismissed in August.
It became clear that any such effort would not be complete "in time
to save the building," said Ellen Burchill Brassil, one of the group's
The group's lawsuit sought to prevent changes to the 1930s board of
education building, town hall and library. The appeal would have been
heard by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
"WHISP has no intention of appealing again," said Steven R. Johnson, an
attorney for Schnader Harrison Segal and Lewis LLP in Washington. "We
filed a notice of appeal, and now we've voluntarily withdrawn it. It's
The suit, which was filed against the town and Blue Back Square LLC,
was dismissed in August by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny. The
plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal two days after the suit was
dismissed. An injunction the group filed in June to stop the work was
The board of education building, with its white-domed cupola, and the
other buildings contributed to the area's historic character, the
plaintiffs had claimed.
"I'm stunned and believe it is such a shame that the town was so
shortsighted to allow the destruction of an historic building for some
stores and a movie theater that could've been elsewhere," Brassil said.
The buildings were eligible for listing on the National Register of
Historic Places. But that designation can only be achieved if the
developers, who now own the board of education building, agree. They do
Mayor Scott Slifka also pointed out that the courts dismissed WHISP's
case, siding with the town.
"This is an adaptive reuse," Slifka said of the changes planned for the
building as part of the Blue Back Square development. "We're preserving
the building for future generations. At the same time we're growing our
tax base, we're insuring the viability of our town center,
consolidating our government, and that's a very difficult mix."
Developers plan to preserve a portion of the front of the board of
education building, and the rear of the building will be demolished to
make way for larger structure that will house a Crate & Barrel, a
movie theater, restaurants and a Barnes & Noble. Much of the
building has already been knocked down.
In a related matter, a judge dismissed a federal lawsuit that Sadler,
Scully and Brassil filed in 2005 against the Federal Highway Safety
The suit, dismissed Sept. 26 by U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz,
asked the agency to conduct a review of the developers' plans to widen
the Park Road exit ramp off I-84 near West Hartford Center. The suit
contended that the agency failed to protect the public by not getting
involved in the application.
Hall Plans Scaled Back
Remodeling Replaces Expansion As Projected Costs Go $10 Million Over
By TOM PULEO, Courant Staff Writer
WEST HARTFORD -- Town hall will be remodeled - rather than expanded -
to absorb school board offices under the latest Blue Back Square plans.
The town and BBS Development made the design change after determining
that a town hall expansion would cost $10 million more than originally
The town needs to empty the board of education building fronting South
Main Street for conversion for retail use at Blue Back Square, the $159
million shopping, housing and entertainment complex that will nearly
double the size of the town center.
"We're keeping the same footprint with the goal of moving the board of
education offices to town hall," Town Manager Barry Feldman said
Friday. To make room inside town hall for the school board
several existing functions will be moved to other spots.
The probate court will move to the police station building.
maintenance operations will go to the public works facility on Brixton
Street. The senior center will move to a new building attached to
Bishops Corner Library - where construction started in September.
BBS Development has agreed to pay $12.6 million to modernize the Noah
Webster Library and expand - now remodel - town hall. BBS
and the town are fine-tuning Blue Back plans now that tenants have
signed leases and construction is underway on the site just east of the
Earlier this week, BBS and the town said they plan to add 50 luxury
condominiums to the project - bringing the total to 120 - after
watching early sales surpass expectations. About half of the first 60
units put on the market in October have sold at prices ranging from
$350,000 to $900,000 - proving that a strong condominium market exists
where there had been a question mark.
All proposed changes will have to be approved by the town council. BBS
will present its updated plan to the town on Dec. 30, with a public
hearing expected in February.
The area along South Main Street that had been slated for the town hall
expansion now will be used for green space, trees and some additional
parking spaces that Feldman said will be better organized and safer to
NOTE: we took out references to
individuals in this ZBA matter.
lawsuit heads to trial
Written by Patricia Gay
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Calling it a classic case of “punish your enemies and favor your
friends,” a member of Weston’s Planning and Zoning Commission claims
the Zoning Board of Appeals wrongfully denied his wife a variance in a
case that started trial proceedings this week. The case stems
from a decision rendered in 2006, in which the ZBA denied a variance
to...build a porch on...a property at 249 Lyons
The property is in a two-acre residential zone, but the lot area is
0.69 acres and enjoys pre-existing, non-conforming status because the
home on the lot was constructed prior to the adoption of zoning
The porch she wanted to construct would have encroached onto the
lot’s front setback line by eight feet. It would have encroached the
side setback line by five feet. Because of those
encroachments, ZBA was asked for a variance. After a public
hearing on Aug.
22, 2006, that request was denied...the applicant is married toa
Planning and Zoning Commissioner. He claims the ZBA’s
decision to deny the variance had nothing to do with the application,
but had everything to do with the fact that he was a member of P&Z.
According to the complaint, events leading up to the suit
started in July 2006, when P&Z met in executive session to consider
filing a lawsuit against the ZBA in connection with the ZBA’s decision
to grant a variance to a homeowner to construct a roof with a height of
37 feet, 7 inches.
The height is greater than the maximum residential roof height of 35
feet as permitted in the zoning regulations. After the executive
session, P&Z voted unanimously to direct the zoning enforcement
officer to file suit against the ZBA and to direct the P&Z chairman
to seek funding from the Weston Board of Selectmen to file and
prosecute such suit. A month later, in August 2006, the present
application was filed with the ZBA requesting a variance to permit the
construction of a porch and air conditioning compressor pad within the
lot’s front and side setbacks.
The complaint alleges that during the course of the ZBA’s public
hearing...an unidentified member of the ZBA
stated, “I think the Planning and Zoning [Commission] would come to us,
and, by the way, they got pretty unhappy with us when we gave two feet
for a roof altitude… I don’t know how ‘public knowledge’ it was, but
they went before the Board of Selectmen to ask for the funding to sue
us and we, you know, had sheriffs coming up to the Chairman of ZBA's
wife and serving papers, so the P&Z does not
want us to re-write their regs by variance.”
At the conclusion of the public hearing, the ZBA denied the
application. P&Z member inviolved said he believes the application
because ZBA did not approve of P&Z’s actions in the roof case.
Abuse of discretion
As proof that the ZBA acted illegally and unreasonably and abused its
discretion in denying this variance application, the complaint
states that since January 2004, the ZBA has granted setback variances
on all applications involving permanent structures, except for this
one. The complaint lists 15 examples where the ZBA approved
variances for other property owners. Some of the approvals involved
encroachments of as much as 47 feet into the setbacks.
This encroachment was for eight feet in the front setback and
five feet on the side. “As such, the record clearly shows a pattern of
unreasonable discrimination and retaliation against the applicant,” the
“The only viable explanation I can come up with for the ZBA’s denial is
that I was a P&Z member and they were mad at P&Z at the time.
This appears to be the classic case of punish your enemies and favor
your friends, and it needs to be challenged,” P&Z member involved
He said the lawsuit was filed as a matter of principle. “The point we
are trying to make is you can’t do this stuff. The impact is too severe
on people’s homes and money,” he said.
How would this kind of application make
out in Weston?
Stonington zoning bid rejected
By Joe Wojtas
Published on 10/7/2009
Mystic - The Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday rejected
the controversial application by dentist Sally Vail and her husband,
Donald, to revise the town's zoning regulations so she can operate her
dental practice in their renovated home without having to live there.
Two commissioners, Paul Holland and Chris Regan, voted to approve the
change while Rob Marseglia, Lynda Trebisacci and Ben Tamsky voted
After the vote, Sally Vail told the commission she was very upset by
the decision and said she would be back with a new application,
hopefully with her neighbors' blessings. Some of them had fought the
Even though he voted against the change, Marseglia apologized to the
Vails for doing so. He said he struggled with the decision and said the
Vails' neighbors should leave them alone.
”I want you to be happy working and living in this community,” he said.
“But we have to do what is right for the town as a whole.”
The Vails have now made several unsuccessful attempts to revise the
regulations. Although the house at 64 Washington St. is located in a
residential zone that does not allow commercial activity, Sally Vail
can run her practice there under a zoning provision that allows home
occupations such as professional offices as long as one family member
lives on the property. The Vails would rather live in a home they own
in Stonington borough.
The Vails had sought an amendment that would have allowed professional
offices by special permit in the residential RH-10 district. Because of
strict conditions attached to the change, the Vails had said it would
apply to just three other properties in town. Before the application
was denied, Holland added two restrictions based on comments at the
public hearing including limiting the commercial use to 25 percent of
the floor area and restricting it to the first floor.
Tamsky said he did not think the application was for the good of the
community and pointed out the majority of opponents were the Vails'
neighbors, while supporters were patients or people who live in other
parts of town. He said that if the commission approved an application
so narrowly tailored for the Vails it would set a precedent in which
other residents would think the commission would do the same for them
in the future.
”That's not the way for us to do business,” Marseglia added.
But Holland pointed out the commission has approved applications in the
recent past that have been tailored to a few property owners or even
one owner. He also said that a previous proposal by the Vails that
would have affected more properties was also rejected.
Marseglia said the application was also a question of protecting small
lots in a dense residential neighborhood, but Holland countered that
the town's plan of development recommends a mix of retail, commercial
and residential use in core village areas such as this one.
Marseglia recommended that the Vails sit down with their neighbors and
come up with a broad-based proposal that would affect the town
positively. He said that if the Vails have more neighbors
on their side, the commission would look more favorably
on their next application.
Man With 300 Snakes Asked By Town To Stop
8:18 AM EDT, May 24, 2012
Griswold officials have asked a local resident to stop breeding snakes
in his home.
The Norwich Bulletin reports (http://bit.ly/KS7o6E) that Randy LaPorte
has about 300 snakes in the basement of the house on Main Street.
Building inspector Peter Zvingilas says LaPorte has not complied with a
cease-and-desist order issued for running a snake-breeding business
without a permit.
LaPorte could not be reached for comment Thursday. A phone number
listed for the home was not in service.
The town began investigating in March after receiving an anonymous
complaint. An inspection found the snakes, and said they were kept
"clean and organized." But health officials also said the area needed
additional cleaning and ventilation.
First Selectman Philip Anthony says the issue has been turned over to
the town's zoning attorney.
Gov Malloy on Travis, the mauling Stamford chimp
March 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm by Ken Dixon
Malloy was mayor of Stamford three years ago when Sandra Herold’s pet
chimpanzee Travis mauled and nearly killed Charla Nash at Herold’s
Rockrimmon Road property. He said today he remembers speaking
with the late Herold during “Mayor’s Night In” events, but not about
the animal, which was killed by police after the February, 2009 attack.
He also remembered an occasion when Travis got out of a vehicle in the
city. Nash last week told the Hartford Courant that Malloy was aware
the chimp was dangerous. Answering questions on the allegation that he
knew the chimp was dangerous, Malloy said:
“I don’t know who’s implying that. I saw a story in the Courant that
has been repeated not in context… I knew what lots of people knew in
Stamford, that this family had a chimpanzee and like everybody else in
Stamford, assumed they were fully compliant with the law with respect
thereto. I certainly did not know that the chimp offered any special
danger other than its existence and again, like alot of people thought
they were compliant with the law. And I think just to clarify, so it
doesn’t then come back, there was one incident where the chimp got out
of a car and took a while to get back into the car. And I was aware of
that as everyone who’s read the Stamford Advocate would have been
aware…I used to do something called Mayor’s Night In, Mayor’s Night Out
and over the course of 12 or 14 years she came a few times, never to
talk about the chimpanzee. She was a service provider to the city of
Stamford, a towing business that was the family business. And from time
to time the city would express its frustration with how that service
was being offered and from time to time she would come to Mayor’s Night
to defend her operation.”
chimpanzee attacks woman in Connecticut
By Andy Newman, NYTIMES
Published: Tuesday, February 17, 2009
A 200-pound pet chimpanzee in Stamford, Connecticut, viciously mauled a
woman he had known for years, leaving her critically injured with much
of her face torn away, the authorities said.
The 90-kilogram animal was shot and killed on Monday by the police
after he assaulted an officer in his car.
The woman, Charla Nash, 55, a friend of the chimpanzee's owner, was
being treated at Stamford Hospital and might not survive, the
The attack also brought a brutal end to the life of the chimpanzee,
Travis, 14, a popular figure in town who had appeared in television
commercials and often posed for photographs at the shop operated by his
owners. He had escaped before, and in 2003 playfully held up traffic at
a busy intersection for several hours, but he had no history of
violence, the authorities said. Travis's social skills included
drinking wine from a stemmed glass, dressing and bathing himself and
using a computer.
Travis's owner, Sandra Herold, 70, had raised him almost as one of her
own children but found herself lunging at him with a butcher knife on
Monday to protect Nash, said Captain Richard Conklin of the Stamford
police, who gave the following account.
Herold told detectives that Travis was in a rambunctious mood on Monday
afternoon. He took her keys from the kitchen table, unlocked a door and
let himself out into the yard.
"He's going to different cars and tapping on them, trying the doors, a
clear indication he wanted to go for a ride," Conklin said.
Travis would not be lured back into the house, even after Herold gave
him tea laced with Xanax, a drug used for treating anxiety in humans.
Herold called Nash, who drove over, but when she stepped out of her car
at around 3:40 p.m., Travis went at her full force. While it was not
clear what prompted the assault, Nash had markedly changed her
hairstyle since the last time Travis had seen her, possibly leading him
to mistake her for an intruder.
Herold tried to pull Travis off her friend, but, Conklin noted, "Sandra
is 70 years old, and a 200-pound chimpanzee is much, much stronger than
a 200-pound human being."
Herold telephoned for help, grabbed a knife and stabbed Travis several
times, to little effect. When emergency service vehicles pulled up,
Travis fled, leaving Nash face down in the driveway.
One team of officers searched the woods for Travis, while another
formed a protective cordon around the paramedics ministering to Nash.
After a while, Conklin said, Travis returned and "went after the
officers." He knocked a mirror off the passenger's side of a police
cruiser with one swing of his arm, then ran around to the driver's
side, opened the door and attacked the officer in the driver's seat.
"He's trapped in his car," Conklin said of the officer. "He has nowhere
to go. So he pulls his sidearm and shoots the chimp several times in
Travis disappeared into the woods. Eventually officers picked up a
blood trail, which they followed back to the house. There they found
Travis in his living quarters. He was dead.