Municipal staff

The town’s lawyer said Moorefield’s neighbors “attacked municipal staff, slandered town volunteers and tarnished our processes”

An online petition against age-restricted housing in Huntington Turnpike has slandered the city’s volunteers and distorted the facts, according to city attorney Jim Nugent.

“In a general sense, community activism is a positive thing,” Nugent wrote. “When people feel heard, they are encouraged and empowered. “

But the petition makes a host of false claims, Nugent said.

“These residents claim ‘unethical development’, but they present no evidence,” he wrote. “There aren’t any either, because the accusations are false.”

In the petition, posted by Huntington Turnpike resident Catherine Fair, a group of a dozen local residents are asking the city to reject a proposal for 11 age-restricted single-family homes at 2157 Huntington Tpke. The site is the former home of Moorefield Herb Farm.

The petition generated around 500 signatures. Fair was not immediately available for comment on Friday.

Nugent’s statement came in response to petition comments that the public hearing was prematurely suspended. Fair also claimed that the project would damage wetlands and cause catastrophic flooding, and that the process was essentially manipulated for the benefit of Matt Reale, project partner and member of the city’s zoning appeal committee.

The process began in October 2018, when the Moorefield Farms Development LLC group offered to build 16 age-restricted homes on the property. The city ​​zoning bylaw, last updated in 2008, allow age-restricted housing in one-acre areas of the city, provided the site exceeds five buildable acres and is located on a road national. The regulation limits this type of housing to two houses subject to an age restriction per acre.

The Moorefield site includes 5.97 buildable acres. The original plan called for 16 homes on the site, which would have been 2.75 homes per acre and required review by the Inland Wetlands Commission. But the Planning and Zoning Commission rejected the zone modification language, and the developers then removed the Inland Wetlands app.

Moorefield Farms has since re-applied, this time for 11 homes on the property, with no incursion into wetlands and therefore no need to go past inland wetlands, according to the city’s land use planner, Rob Librandi.

This new app has been reviewed by a licensed engineer, Nugent wrote.

“There is no disturbance of the highlands review area, unlike a previous request, which has been withdrawn and is irrelevant,” he wrote.

The current request was originally scheduled to be voted on by P&Z on September 11, although that meeting had to be postponed due to difficulty securing quorum and the availability of city lawyers. Commissioners Fred Garrity and Larry LaConte, as well as lawyers James Cordone and Daniel Schopick, recused themselves from the request, meaning that if either of the remaining Commissioners or Nugent cannot meet, the meeting cannot be held. place.

Fair, in his petition, claimed that the project was being carried out without public participation.

“Delaying the vote (until after the November elections) hurts candidates on both sides,” she wrote. “It helps the Planning and Zoning Commission escape responsibility. This helps the developer / applicant to move the project forward without audience participation.

Fair said 16 local residents spoke out against the project in March 2019 and then again in August 2019. After hearing their complaints, Acting President Tony Silber closed the public hearing. Neighbors also sent letters to the editor of the “Trumbull Times” and “Connecticut Post” indicating their reasons for opposing the project.

The letters claim that “preferential treatment and unfair advantage” was given to the development group “by city staff and commissioners” and to “follow the money and the insiders”.

“The public was misled, dodged and shunned, which led to the organized public hearing,” the letter said. “It is clear that they only serve and approve of Reale’s group while ignoring the claims and concerns of residents… They are clearly using their ties to City Hall to avoid proper oversight.”

The letter concludes that Reale “attempts to use his position in the P&Z department for his personal financial advantage at the expense of the rights of residents.”

Reale is an elected representative of the Zoning Appeal Board who would not have oversight of the project.

The petition says the letter was never published in either newspaper, although both newspapers published it.

Nugent pointed out that every member of the public who wanted to speak at the public hearing had done so.

“For any request, when the commissioners feel that no further clarification is required from the requester and the public has been heard, they close a hearing,” he wrote. “In this case, each participant who wanted to speak did so. At last.

Nugent concluded by saying he understood that people who live in the area might not want 11 more homes on Huntington Turnpike, but said being unhappy with nearby land use doesn’t mean the process had sort of been mishandled.

“I sympathize with people who seek to protect their neighborhood,” he wrote. “But an emotional investment should never extend to false accusations, attacking city staff, slandering city volunteers and tarnishing our processes.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.