Zoning flaws could go back years

The fatal flaw that was discovered in six zoning decisions of the past year that led July 10 to the Planning and Zoning Commission rescinding them could actually be present in regulations going back years.

The flaw is that decisions pertaining to new regulations were published in a legal advertisement on the same day they took effect. There should have been a couple of weeks between the two.

The flaw was brought to light in a lawsuit last month involving age-restricted housing regulations  that had been approved last fall. There was a sizeable public outcry against an overlay zone that allowed for age-restricted housing — more dense than R2A zoning — on Ridgefield Road.

The flaw may go back years, but  any cases older than a year will not be rescinded because of a state law in which they have exceeded their statute of limitations, said Town Attorney Ira Bloom.

Bloom made the comments July 11 following a June 10 meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission at which five separate regulations were rescinded and sent back to square one. A sixth had to wait for another time to be rescinded because a window period for appeals was being observed.

Bloom made the comments after being told The Wilton Bulletin staff looked into past regulations, from previous years, and found what appeared to be the same fatal flaw.

“Yes, we have looked into the past, but there is a statute of limitations of one year,” Bloom said. “If there is a noted defect, then the individual has up to one year to file an appeal. If there are problems older than a year, there is a statute of limitations.”

The question of who is to blame for the flaw in legal ad timing is vague. It is being characterized as an oversight in the offices of the Planning and Zoning Department, said Bob Nerney, the town’s planning director.

“Yeah, I think it was an oversight,” Nerney said. “If you look at the state statutes, they’re hundreds of pages.”

He was glad the flaw was brought to the agency’s attention.

“We try very hard to do things properly, and moving forward, it will be done so,” Nerney said.