Injunction request against AROD gets court date

In a further wrinkle in the controversy surrounding the town’s recently approved age-restricted housing overlay district (AROD), a status conference has been scheduled in superior court in Stamford regarding a request for a temporary injunction to halt implementing such district. The conference is set for July 10, the same day the Planning and Zoning Commission has a hearing scheduled to consider a request to change the zoning for 183 Ridgefield Road from R2A to age-restricted housing.

The injunction was requested by Ridgefield Road resident Patricia L. Frisch, who filed a civil lawsuit June 6 against the town of Wilton, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Planning and Zoning Department, town planner Robert Nerney and Town Clerk Lori Kaback.

In her complaint, Frisch contends the legal notice published on Nov. 3, 2016, and Nov. 10, 2016, in The Bulletin, advertising a Nov. 14  public hearing on the age-restricted zoning amendments under consideration by the Planning and Zoning Commission, did “not identify the potential areas to be affected should the proposed amendments pass to any degree whatsoever.” Those potential areas were Ridgefield Road, Danbury Road, and Westport Road, as identified in a memorandum from Nerney to commission members. The memorandum and copies of the legal notice were included as exhibits.

The legal notice published before the public hearing was insufficient, the complaint says, because it required members of the public to conduct research as to whether or not they would be affected by the proposed zoning amendments and thus denied the plaintiff the opportunity to prepare for and participate in the public hearing.

The complaint also states a legal notice published in The Bulletin on Nov. 17, 2016, indicates the amendment was approved and would go into effect on Nov. 17. This was insufficient, according to the complaint, because it was not published before the effective date and it did not identify Westport, Danbury, and Ridgefield roads as areas that would potentially be affected by the commission’s action. Thus, it denied the plaintiff the opportunity to appeal the decision.

Relief requested

As plaintiff, Frisch is requesting a judgment declaring:

  • The notices of public hearing published on Nov. 3 and Nov. 10 were insufficient to apprise residents of Westport, Danbury, and Ridgefield roads they could be affected by the age-restricted zoning amendments under consideration.

  • The notice of the commission’s decision to approve the amendments was insufficient to apprise those residents a decision had been made that could affect them with regard to the creation of an age-restricted overlay district.

  • The notice of the commission’s decision was insufficient to apprise those residents of their right to a timely appeal of that decision.

  • The notice of the commission’s decision was not published “in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in the municipality before such effective date.”

  • The commission’s approval of the age-restricted zoning regulations are invalid, null and void ab initio [from the beginning].

Should the court fail to find the commission’s action null and void, the complaint requests a 15-day appeals period be re-opened to allow residents an opportunity to appeal the commission’s decision.

The complaint also requests a temporary and permanent injunction “enjoining and restraining” the commission from proceeding with the July 10 public hearing where the commission is to entertain an application from the owner of 183 Ridgefield Road to rezone the property to an age-restricted overlay district.

It also seeks to prevent the commission from accepting, hearing or approving any other similar zone change applications, and to dismiss pending applications for such a zone change.

The commission is in the midst of entertaining an application by Ridgefield Road resident Vicki Mavis to remove Ridgefield Road from the age-restricted overlay district, but that would not affect the zone change application filed for 183 Ridgefield Road since it was accepted under the current regulations. The hearing on this matter is expected to be concluded at the commission’s next meeting, June 12, 7:15 p.m., in the Wilton Library Brubeck Room.

At a continuation of the hearing on May 22, Town Counsel Ira Bloom indicated the public notices as published met the minimum legal requirements.