To the Editors:
Are we facing a redux of the shameful ZBA Middlebrook lights hearing?
By way of background:
When Sally Poundstone, currently vice chair of the P&Z, presided over a variance application for Middlebrook lighting before the ZBA, the law narrowly restricted variance approval to properties whose land characteristics made it impossible, or nearly so, to comply with the zoning regulations. Ms. Poundstone had no trouble blatantly ignoring the law and joining three other ZBA members in granting an illegal variance by claiming that the 109-acre lot was too large and that without the use of 70-foot poles the owner would be deprived of the reasonable use of the 109 acres. The Connecticut Superior Court in a one-sentence humiliating back-of the-hand rebuke reversed that decision: “Here, the ZBA makes no connection between the large size of the lot and any unusual impact upon it by the thirty foot height limitation.” She also conducted an unfair hearing by directing cross-examination questions to be directed through her — but when it came time for the applicant to answer, Ms. Poundstone gave the opponents the option of answering or not! Then she stated to other commissioners: “We’d better stop talking or we’re gonna lose.” Judges don’t “lose” unless they have a stake in the outcome.
Now the P&Z is faced with the applicant trying to get the P&Z to act illegally in granting a special permit. The major difference is that here the P&Z may not grant the special permit unless every applicable regulation in the residential zone is complied with. The evidence before the P&Z shows that there are at least four violations of its own regulations, any one of which disqualifies issuance of a special permit. They are:
1. The applicant has no real estate interest in the school property and therefore no standing.
2. The proposed skyward-pointing lights violate explicit P&Z lighting regulations. (I can’t help but note the absence of an approving endorsement from the Dark Skies association for this lighting debacle — unlike at the ZBA hearing when an endorsement won glowing praise from Ms. Poundstone.)
3. The 20-foot-candle lighting intensity on the ground violates the lighting regulations (the applicant’s expert’s testimony referencing an average relating to the “property” is flatly false — no such reference to “property” exists anywhere in the regulations).
4. The applicant’s blatant demonstration of spillage onto the Pattys’ property violates P&Z’s lighting regulations.
And last but not least, the conduct of the hearing by Chairman Hulse, by giving the applicant unlimited time to present evidence which was not previously presented and limiting the adversely affected neighbor’s attorney to two minutes and 15 seconds was unfair and violated due process. By doing so Chairman Hulse introduced a glimpse into legal systems which are foreign to the United States of America.
Anthony F. LoFrisco
33 Cider Mill Place, Sept. 22
To the Editors: