NORWALK, Conn. — It’s really just a matter of not being able to get a quorum, Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Andy Conroy said Thursday evening, after Quintard Avenue residents suffered another disappointment.
The ZBA abruptly cancelled part two of its emotional public hearing regarding a potential Quintard Avenue federal prisoner halfway house Thursday afternoon, less than three hours before it was to begin.
Part one of the hearing, on May 4, was four hours long. Ten Norwalkers spoke against the request from Firetree LTD to be allowed to open its halfway house, either by a reversal of Zoning’s refusal to issue a Certificate of Occupancy or by the issuance of a special exception. Other opponents went home, with some promising to speak at the next part of the hearing.
Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin said the ZBA did not have a quorum for its Thursday meeting. Although some speculate that there were other reasons, Conroy assured NancyOnNorwalk that Kleppin’s account was accurate.
It’s a five-member Board with three alternates, he said. One member has recused himself and there were not enough members who could attend the hearing.
Conroy had an alternate, Lee Levey, attend part one of the hearing on May 4, saying that he was concerned about the possibility of being shorthanded later.
Other alternates are not up to speed and not following the issue, Conroy said Thursday.
Three members are needed for a quorum, the city’s charter states.
Kleppin’s email announcing the cancellation of the 7 p.m. hearing was sent to Quintard neighborhood leader Bob Weiner at 4:04 p.m.
“Sad but true,” Weiner said in forwarding the email to his neighbors.
“The Quintard Avenue Neighborhood Association was ready to defend the integrity of our area of one and two-family homes, as specified in the local zoning code, so it was disappointing to have another delay,” Weiner said in an email to NancyOnNorwalk.
Donna, a NancyOnNorwalk commenter, speculated that Firetree had pulled the plug on the hearing, that it had been cancelled due to “Firetree’s last minute maneuvering.”
Conroy spoke of issues related to Firetree’s legal arguments, expressing doubt that the city’s legal department has had enough time to research claims made by Firetree. He wasn’t sure if the Corporation’s Counsel’s office would have had the answers Thursday night, but the hearing would have gone on, he said.
“If anything, we just wouldn’t have voted on it,” he said.
The rain date for the hearing was next week, and he expects to know Friday when the hearing will continue, he said.