Letter: Lawsuit was about due process

To the Editors:

I would like to respond to the article published recently about "my" lawsuit, Frisch Lawsuit Put Off to September (Aug. 18, 2017) and report that I have reached a settlement agreement with the Town that includes my withdrawal of the lawsuit.

I have never tried to “embarrass the Planning and Zoning Commission” or to use the lawsuit as a vehicle to “voice my displeasure at what [I] perceive to be a bad zoning decision,” and I wish the Wilton Bulletin had asked for my comment before publishing an article that characterized my motivations.

"My" lawsuit is and has always been about my right, along with the right of every other resident of this Town, to due process in the way the Commission goes about its business — in this case, the business of changing the zoning regulations that govern property development in the Town.

I have never sought publicity for myself or for the lawsuit, and I respect the Commission’s prompt action to rescind the age-restricted overlay district regulation (“AROD Regulation”) on the advice of Town Counsel shortly after the lawsuit was filed.  The reason I continued the lawsuit beyond the rescission date was to obtain a court order that the rescinded AROD Regulation is truly null and void, as though it never existed.  That is something that the Town Counsel advised the public and the Commission (at its June 12, 2017 meeting) could only be done by a court.

To be fair, both Town Counsel and the Chairman of the Commission later said (at the Commission’s July 10, 2017 hearing) that, following the rescission of the zoning amendments that created the AROD Regulation, any new application for the adoption of similar AROD regulations would “essentially have to start over;” but I was still concerned. I did not want to be arguing in the future about what the Commission meant by “rescission” or “essentially start over” or about whether the rescinded AROD Regulation can be simply “restored” by a “new” application that relies only on past consideration of what has been rescinded.  

We now have a Stipulation and Withdrawal that has been signed by the parties and submitted to the court for signature. It states that any “application(s) made on or after July 10, 2017 to or by the PZC for an AROD regulation shall be treated as a de novo application, including the giving of statutory notices to the public and scheduling of public hearings thereon.” This provides the clarity I have been looking for.

I think everyone will be best served if the public has unshaken confidence that any decision that is ultimately made on this controversial subject is made after a new application is submitted, with appropriate supporting documentation, and objectively considered and decided in the interests of the entire Town, including all property owners whose property interests would be affected, not just those of any one property owner (mine or anyone else’s).

Patricia Frisch

Ridgefield Road, Aug. 22