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West Norwalk Zoning approval draws resistance

A Google view of 7 Forest Hill Road.

Updated, 2 p.m. May 16: additional information.

NORWALK, Conn. – At least two West Norwalk residents object to an approval granted by Norwalk Planning and Zoning to a home for five unrelated senior citizens.

An appeal has been filed on the senior home, owned by an LLC, Planning and Zoning Director Steve Kleppin said.

NancyOnNorwalk has received two complaints about the home and the businessman who said he is only providing the home care for the senior residents, Gary Ferone. The emails point out that Ferone has a history of legal issues.

Ferone said the neighbors should prefer a home with four elderly tenants being looked after by two caregivers in the day and one overnight to a home rented out to four college students having keg parties on the deck every weekend.

“They are very, very low-key. We don’t have a lot of people coming and going, it’s an affordable way for seniors to live a good quality of life with good proper care,” Ferone said. “We have a few (homes) in Stamford and this is our first one in Norwalk. I’m not looking to put up a million of them but I did have three residents that come from Norwalk, that wanted their families to be close and local, and that’s how we chose Norwalk.”

“We did issue a zoning permit for 7 Forest Hill Road,” Kleppin wrote in an email. “The owner is renting the house out to 5 unrelated individuals who share a common kitchen and other facilitates, which is allowed in the zoning regulations.  They do require assistance with cooking and cleaning but are not receiving medical care.  It was determined that there was no difference if the house was rented out to 5 elderly individuals or 5 fraternity members or 5 separate individuals looking to keep costs down.  The application was not heard by the Zoning Commission.  Staff brought it to their attention to give them a heads up that the permit was issued.  My understanding is that an appeal was filed by 1 of the neighbors.”

The appeal was filed by Mark and Patricia Lorusso, who live next door, according to Zoning Inspector Aline Rochefort. The Lorussos did not return a Monday phone call from NancyOnNorwalk. The Zoning Board of Appeals will probably hear the case on June 7, Rochefort said.

The residence, off West Norwalk Road near the Merritt Parkway, is in a Triple A residential neighborhood. At least one home in the area has a legal accessory apartment, Rochefort said.

“{T}he specifics of the application were to retrofit the rooms according to American with Disabilities guidelines as a precursor to receiving federal guaranteed payments for disabilities,” a NancyOnNorwalk reader wrote in an email. “It also sounds like the zoning commission preferred to decline the application but after extensive legal discussions with city attorneys, they gave the go ahead for fear of lawsuits (similar to the mosque). As you can imagine, the neighborhood is furious and could not understand how Zoning could ever green light such a facility for what appears to be a residence being re-purposed into a major business enterprise. … more deficiencies and loopholes are being exploited in West Norwalk for eager developers even after the not so long ago issues with zoning in West Norwalk.”

Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola confirmed that the law department was consulted but denied “fear of lawsuits.”

“Steve Kleppin and {Assistant Planning and Zoning Director} Mike Wrinn requested that the Law Department review some questions they had regarding a few legal issues pertaining to this application for a zoning permit,” Copola wrote in an email. “The Law Department reviewed those issues pertaining to the application and confirmed that the zoning permit should be issued under the applicable zoning regulations.  There was no ‘fear of lawsuits’ which influenced our legal opinion.  We simply applied the relevant law to the facts pertaining to this application and rendered our opinion.”

“This arrangement has been reviewed and accepted by other municipalities as a viable and acceptable means of providing living options to seniors. Three such homes currently exist in Stamford,” Attorney Joseph Capalbo wrote to Wrinn in February. “…It has proven to be a beneficial alternative for seniors who require minimal everyday help as it provides them with a healthy home environment with a sense of community while allowing them to maintain their independence.”

The seniors don’t drive and all activities will take place in the back yard, he wrote.

“Gary Ferone was banned {for} life {from} the securities industry,” another reader wrote, further pointing out that Ferone ran into legal issues with a dating service. Ferone employed Jennifer Maquilon, who was accused in 2014 of embezzling $30,000 from her employer, and has been sued in federal court for nonpayment of wages, the reader said.

Maquilon was employed as a bookkeeper for his home care agency and has since been let go, Ferone said last week. Maquilon pleaded guilty to larceny third degree, according to the state judicial website.

The issue with the dating service is absolutely irrelevant, Ferone said Monday.

Ferone said that he didn’t think his history in financial securities is anybody’s concern, that he’s a businessman like anyone else.

In late 1998 Ferone agreed to pay $469,000 in restitution for violations of regulations, without admitting or denying the allegations that included selling unregistered securities without being a registered broker or dealer, according to the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD).

“Because I had a small bond default – and it wasn’t me, it was the brokerage firm that I was working for when I was a young kid in my 20s – they had bond default on Wall Street. Many investments go south. I was one of about 85 people that the bond defaulted from,” Ferone said last week.

Fairfield Family Care LLC of Stamford was sued by three employees who claimed unpaid overtime, minimum wage violations, liquidated damages, wage statement and wage notice violations, with Ferone listed as a defendant. A lawsuit filed in 2016 by Kenroy Williams and Maxine Turner was settled in 2017 for $125,000. A lawsuit filed by Curleta Emrani in 2017 was settled in August for $17,500.

A 2015 law made it mandatory to pay overtime as of Jan. 1,  but the law was overturned, only to be overturned two more times and finally made law in November, Ferone said.

“All of the home care companies …. got sued,” he said. “Some judge somewhere in Connecticut said the overtime was due since Jan. 1, even though they overturned the rule. So I know of six home care agencies that got sued, all got sued by caregivers for not paying overtime, which we were not required.”

No one wanted to pay the legal fees to fight the ruling from one judge, so they settled the lawsuits, he said.

Fairfield Family Care is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau and has one negative review, which states that a Fairfield Family Care employee, “Laura L*****,” bilked an elderly woman.

Laura Luzardo was accused in April 2015 of stealing $163,177 from a 90-year-old Greenwich woman, the Greenwich Times reports.  Luzardo pled guilty in January 2016 to larceny first degree and was sentenced to five years in jail, the state judicial website states. She had a criminal record before being hired to help the 2015 Greenwich victim, the state judicial website indicates, pleading guilty in 2012 to three counts of larceny third degree and given a suspended sentence.

“Donald Trump is the President of the United States and he’s got more legal problems than anybody,” Ferone said. “Doesn’t make him a bad guy, same thing with Bill Clinton and most presidents of the United States. It doesn’t make me a bad person that 25 years ago I had a bond that defaulted on Wall Street and I was just a regular retail broker. Since then it’s been jump on the bandwagon.”

Norwalk Planning and Zoning held up the application for four months to check with the state and with Stamford, he said.

“The owner has opened 3 similar facilities in Stamford.  We did speak with Stamford about the operations and they indicated there have been no complaints to the P&Z department since they’ve opened,” Kleppin wrote.

The Stamford Advocate reported a year ago that Stamford neighbors objected to similar facilities at 43 Old Logging Road, 27 Fox Hill Road and 463 Roxbury Road, with Stamford officials saying they comply with the Zoning regulations.

“We are completely, 100 percent abiding by the law. We did everything legally and there’s nobody that really can contest it,” Ferone said, asserting that the owner of a house can rent it to anybody and that while the law allows five unrelated occupants to share a home the plan is to rent this residence to four occupants.

The former owner was 91 years old and didn’t take care of the lawn, but now a fortune will be spent to make it look nice outside and it will be renovated inside, with less activity than a “normal” family of five would bring, he said, asserting that it will look normal, with no wheelchair ramps visible.

“The home was purchased through a trust, a few people that have gotten together that really want to see the benefit of people aging basically in place and with affordable home-care. The only thing I do is provide home care in the home. That’s what I do,” he said.

Ferone is listed on the Connecticut Secretary of State’s website as the agent for 7 Forest Road LLC and Joseph J. Ferone Jr. is listed as the manager. The four members of the LCC want to be anonymous and it’s nobody’s business, Ferone said Monday.

He declined to say how much the tenants will pay but said that depending on their health it’s about half the cost of assisted living.

Rates are from $5,000, Seniors Bluebook reports.

“A beautiful residential one level ranch home in a serene country setting, providing an affordable alternative to traditional assisted living facilities,” the listing states. “Sunshine Senior Residence is committed to providing (one on one care) and the best team of round-the-clock caregivers, on-call physicians, and a staff that is trained specifically for working with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, Fall risk clients and elder care residents.”

There are seniors out there going bankrupt, paying $15,000 a month for care, Ferone said.

“I supply an awake person over the night and evening to help anybody with their nightly needs,” Ferone said. “They do cleaning and they do the laundry and they prep for breakfast in the morning. We do that for half of the cost, of what the assisted livings do. I know neighborhood doesn’t necessarily like it but I can guarantee you one thing…. when they are going through that with their parents and they are paying $15,000 a month and they are getting horrible care, they will wish they are in that home with Fairfield Family Care providing care for them.”

39 comments

Nora K King May 15, 2018 at 8:10 am

The zoning code for Zone A has been flawed for years in this city. Everyone knows this. Planning and Zoning has been aware of it for decades. The real problem Norwalk faces is that Planning and Zoning is not one entity and they operate in silos. P and Z in the city of Norwalk needs major reform. Just changing the Director is not enough to fix the problems. Just like the city is going through restructuring the P and Z needs major overhaul as does redevelopment. This just isn’t working.

Donna Smirniotopoulos May 15, 2018 at 8:32 am

Congregate living is a protected class under ADA and FHA. We are facing the same nuisance in the Quintard area, but several orders of magnitude greater—18 residents united by drug addiction. 17 Quintard is unique in that the city, under advice of corporation counsel, agrees that the use is the same as that pursued by Pivot House since the mid-seventies before the code change requiring a minimum of 250 square feet per person. However, since Firetree made clear in 2014 and thereafter that they had no intention of pursuing the previous use of 17 Quintard for residential drug rehab, it’s unclear why they should be entitled to the grandfathered pre-existing nonconforming use. What’s missing from both city and state regulations is any language governing congregate living and operating a businesses in residential neighborhoods. Make these operations less profitable to the operators, and they will seek cover elsewhere. I am unsympathetic to Ferone’s argument that it could be worse. This is the argument we often hear from our own land use commissioners. Better approve this apartment developement—it’s better than that rock crushing facility/storage facility/empty lot.

Meanwhile, the city will not settle the Firetree suit to the advantage of South Norwalk, but the mayor and his deputy believe there’s money lying around to add four or five new cabinet level positions, which will likely add at least one million dollars to the annual budget, exclusive of pensions and benefits (the roll out did not include any figures—only shadowy boxes). Consider also the million flowing out of City coffers every year in tax credits to developers with not much to show for it.

What’s happening on Forest Hill Road and Quintard Avenue can happen on your street. If Norwalk residential property owners did not realize this ere now, it should be apparent that the mayor does not seem to be looking out for your interests, protecting your quality of life, your property values, or your tax dollars.

Mr. Ferone, it is not your place to decide what the neighbors should prefer in their neighborhood, and it speaks poorly of you to make this tired old argument in defense of running a commercial business in the midst of family homes.

alan mcnichols May 15, 2018 at 9:06 am

Mr. Ferone is having it both ways…running a business in a residential neighborhood,and advertising that business, but claiming he is just a landlord. Slumlord for the elderly, more like it.
State law says that you are not allowed to engage in this activity unless you are on public water and sewage. This location is on septic and well.
At least one of his Stamford locations smells of failed septic and one can expect the same from this new location in due course.
I feel sorry for the residents of the street. It was a cute little neighborhood and now has a business plunked down in it. Norwalk P&Z has failed the residents just like Stamford failed their residents.Selling a home (tough as it is currently) just got tougher for the neighborhood.

Eleanor Lx. May 15, 2018 at 9:18 am

Why was the application granted prior to the residents being informed? City residents should speak out here and protest this application. It is simply unacceptable that the city gave the green light and permits after promises were made to close these loopholes not so long ago. A medical facility masquerading as a senior residence receiving $5,000 per month/room with “a staff that is trained specifically for working with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, Fall risk clients and elder care residents” should be pause enough. . .

As a senior with first hand experience with elder care, I can only imagine the traffic that will be generated from this pseudo medical/dependent care facility and the erosion of the quality of life that will ensue for the neighborhood. Shame on the zoning and legal departments for approving this!

V May 15, 2018 at 9:37 am

What a laughable joke. Won’t they ever learn anything?
City of Norwalk’s slogan oughta be – A day late and a dollar short.
This may just be a case of Nimbyism but we all know what happens once this is approved.

Just Learned May 15, 2018 at 9:51 am

Where is the mayor on this? While city neighborhoods turn into a mixed use s-hole with the grand list eroding, rest assured the city’s legal department is hard at work pursuing nonsense lawsuits with opiod manufacturers instead of standing up for the rights of homeowners here.

Claire Schoen May 15, 2018 at 11:17 am

For everyone reading this article, please pause and say a big ‘thank you’ to Nancy Chapman for writing about this issue. Better yet, think about becoming a supporter of this important news outlet.

The only way we can keep tabs on what’s going on in our city is through solid investigative local journalism. The business model for this is still a challenge, so outlets like NoN depend on donations in order to survive.

Please consider making a donation (of any size) so we can remain informed about what’s happening in our community.

Rem May 15, 2018 at 11:47 am

Mixed uses actually make better neighborhoods. They put eyes on the street and build community. Norwalkers harp about wanting more businesses in town as long as it’s not their next door neighbor. Yet when complaining they seem to forget that property owners have the legal right to use their property as they see fit under permitted uses. Mr. Ferone may not necessarily be the best businessperson but he’s done nothing wrong here in West Norwalk. And frankly anyone who helps out old people in need, however they may be personally flawed, is a saint in my book.

JE May 15, 2018 at 12:01 pm

What both the city of Norwalk and Stamford are missing is the clause that a number of unrelated individuals can rent a home. The original intent of this definition was so a few people (unmarried adults, college students wanting to live together, etc..) could rent a home in a residential area but that rental would be UNDER 1 LEASE. These are not the same because each individual “tenant” has their own separate leases so a home with 4 elderly individuals is a business with 4 separate leases. While these homes may not be the worst thing to happen to a neighborhood what is most concerning are developers using loopholes to change a neighborhood and potentially reducing the values of the surrounding homes./

Eleanor Lx. May 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm

@Rem. Mixed used depress residential quality of life and are detrimental to grand list appreciation. I can not understand the world your living and nursing homes should not be allowed on residential streets. This is a AAA zoned area and should not be a business zone.

Will Erdef May 15, 2018 at 12:28 pm

I could not agree more with Claire’s remarks and kudos to Nancy for her excellent and talented reporting. NoN is a true asset to the community!

After reading this story one can not help but think that this application was attempting to be approved on the down low for the intended purpose of avoiding this publicity and likely challenge. Convalescent centers do not belong on residential streets.

Paul Cantor May 15, 2018 at 12:36 pm

The failure of the city to prevent Gary Ferone from establishing a business, a Sunshine Senior Residence, on Forrest Street will undermine the residential quality of West Norwalk and damage the reputation of Norwalk as a city that proactively enforces its zoning regulations. Consequently, it will detract from the property values of all the city’s homeowners and of Norwalk as an attractive place to live and raise a family. And the fact that the city has allowed another business, Prime Time Shine, to purchase the property located at 190 Fillow Street in West Norwalk should add to that concern. Just drive by 190 Fillow Street today to get a view of how a business owner can be expected to take care of property in a residential neighborhood.

alan mcnichols May 15, 2018 at 1:16 pm

While I believe that Mr.Ferone’s model is very questionable (and profitable for him) it is in fact a business and to allow it is a slap in the face of every resident in Norwalk.
Where is the oversight by the state and local authorities when money goes missing, or if abuse occurs? GOOGLE the man…would YOU trust your loved ones to his care?

He is playing a game of semantics,on dicey legal grounds. Again, all one has to see is the advertising…it is a business! Norwalk should shut this down!

I will add an interesting item at the risk of taking up too much space. I was told that Mr. Ferone is a silent partner and on the board of directors of this. Note Ralph Delgais’ qualifications:

Licensed Home Care Services Agency Character and Competence Staff Review
Westchester Family Care, Inc. Mamaroneck
Westchester
For-Profit Corporation
Westchester Family Care, Inc., a business corporation, requests approval to obtain licensure as a home care services agency under Article 36 of the Public Health Law. This application amends and supersedes LHCSA application number 2027L which was contingently approved by the Public Health and Health Planning Council on April 11, 2013. At that time, the applicant had authorized 200 shares of stock with Eric T. Johnson owning 7 shares and Ralph Delgais owning 3 shares. The remaining 190 shares were unissued.

Westchester Family Care, Inc. has authorized 200 shares of stock. Ralph Del Gais owns 100 shares as the sole shareholder. The remaining 100 shares are unissued.

The Board of Directors of Westchester Family Care, Inc. comprises the following individuals:

The applicant proposes to serve the residents of the following counties from an office located at 1 Depot Plaza, Suite 203, Mamaroneck, New York 10803:
Westchester Rockland Putnam Dutchess
The applicant proposes to provide the following health care services:
Nursing Personal Care Home Health Aide Homemaker Housekeeper
A search of the individuals named above revealed no matches on either the Medicaid Disqualified Provider List or the OIG Exclusion List.
The Office of the Professions of the State Education Department indicates no issues with the license of the health care professional associated with this application.

Ralph Delgais disclosed that he plead guilty to Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree on March 6, 1985 and was sentenced to 5 years probation. The Department’s recommendation for approval has been made after consideration of the statutory factors found in the New York State Correction Law Sections 752 and 753.
Review of the Personal Qualifying Information indicates that the applicant has the required character and competence to operate a licensed home care services agency.
Contingency
Submission of any and all information requested by the Division of Legal Affairs, in a form and manner acceptable to the Department.

Recommendation: Contingent Approval Date: June 30, 2014

alan mcnichols May 15, 2018 at 1:22 pm

One final note…in Stamford, Mr. Ferone may have breezed through the P&Z process by hiring Tony Strazza,as an “expediter”, who retired from the City of Stamford. He clearly was able to “get things done” that regular residents could not. One wonders who he hired in Norwalk?

Lisa Brinton Thomson May 15, 2018 at 2:27 pm

Head Naysayer here 🙂 Next time you open your tax bill, wonder why your home value has declined or why the grand list hasn’t grown – think about the millions and millions of dollars in tax credits the city gives away each year in the Enterprise Zone and now wants to do in the Innovation Zone. Then, think about the lawsuits. Think about the overpayments. After all, its happening with your money!

Then, think about how residential neighborhoods are repeatedly under attack because the administration refuses to deal with the difficult task of cleaning up P&Z. ONE of my reasons for challenging this mayor were his broken promises (that date back to his campaign against Moccia) FIVE years ago!! He promised to clean up P&Z and Redevelopment. Well…?

This mayor banks on short memories, low voter turnout and hometown status. He didn’t invent Norwalk’s P&Z issues but his status quo mentality has left residential property owners vulnerable. His mayoralty will go down in history as the biggest sell out with the least amount of gain Norwalk has ever seen. The tone deaf refusal to listen to resident’s pleas (preferring to label us naysayers) is downright criminal, but with a 14-1 majority, he doesn’t have to listen. No amount of political spin over the POCD or half-baked city ‘reorganization’ is going to protect your most precious asset. How much worse does it have to get folks?

Paul Cantor May 15, 2018 at 4:57 pm

@ Rem. People who purchase property in areas such as West Norwalk do so because the zoning laws prohibit businesses from undermining the tranquil residential quality of the neighborhood. Mr. Ferone is a businessman who is violating the spirit if not the letter of those laws. His goal is to make a buck from running residences for old people suffering from Alzheimer’s. Given the information in Nancy’s article I would hesitate to have anyone I cared for move into a residence run by him. If his goal is to help old people, he shouldn’t deny the people he hires to care for them the wages they deserve. He denied people who worked for him overtime. Does that make him a saint in your book? Do you expect being the saint you think he is that he will be offering the kind of wages that will attract high quality individuals to care for each of the individuals he plans to charge $5000 or more per month to stay in his “home”?

Donna Smirniotopoulos May 15, 2018 at 6:17 pm

This mayor has the Nixonian qualities of paranoia and isolation without the virtues of spearheading Chinese diplomacy, the EPA and Title IX. When was the last time the mayor talked about residential property owners, property taxes, the Grand List, or economic growth for the city? The last time I met with corporation counsel regarding Firetree, the mayor assured Quintard neighbors he really wanted to fight these bastards and protect that street. Norwalk legal cases being what they are, of course, the meeting concluded with the dire announcement that protecting us from prisoners meant welcoming drug addicts—18 of them. This is how the mayor protects neighborhoods. He also protects them through land use appointments. His Zoning Commission approved a MERV system for Web Construction’s indoor rock crushing facility on Meadow when they should have demanded a HEPA system. Nevermind that children and families live adjacent to these contractor yards—it’s South Norwalk, after all. The mayor’s team—the Norwalk Democratic Town Committee—only cares about us at election time.

A mayor with a 14-1 majority can afford to offer fresh insults at every socio-economic tier in the city. Air-borne pollutants, criminals and drug rehab in South Norwalk family neighborhoods, a high rent rooming-house business masquerading as senior care in a West Norwalk AAA neighborhood, and everywhere tax freebies for developers! Check out those year one tax bills on some of our Enterprise Zone developements—$500,000 owed to the city with a 100% rebate. That’s our gift to the already well-heeled, at our expense. Would the mayor care to make a statement about how all of these land use decisions are growing the local economy? The reorganizational roll out, promising more “efficiency”, was nearly fact-and-figure-free. How can one achieve efficiencies without any hard numbers to back them up?

Galen Wells May 15, 2018 at 8:38 pm

I live in West Norwalk and I can’t see how this house will have a negative impact on the neighborhood. 5 elderly people with a caregiver will not disturb anyone. I am sure, as the owner says “they are pretty low key”. In this day and age an expanding elderly population requires us to explore many alternatives for them to receive the care they need and a good quality of life. This sounds so much better to me than all 5 people living alone and isolated in their homes or in a nursing home. I really don’t understand this dust up over a perfectly legal use.

Donna Smirniotopoulos May 15, 2018 at 9:21 pm

@Galen Wells, with all due respect, no one has the right to substitute his or her own personal judgment for that of the impacted neighborhood. As an appointee of Mayor Rilling, you might have been trained in the course of your Zoning Commission orientation to hew to the code and to be attentive to the concerns of neighbors, especially abutters, who are considered to be directly aggrieved should this case proceed to litigation. If the existing code does not regulate businesses like this now, the code needs to be changed. The mayor who appointed every single person on every land use board campaigned on zoning reform. But he has governed on giveaways to developers/campaign donors.

This may sound so much better to you. However if an application like this were to come before you, I’d like to think you would look to the code and not to what you think would be better for others.

Claire schoen May 15, 2018 at 10:20 pm

I don’t object to the concept in principal – 5 unrelated seniors living together with a caretaker. Heck. I’d love to do that with a bunch of my friends in a few years…
But I am concerned about the idea that this guy is running an apparent for-profit assisted living facility while claiming it’s just a bunch of seniors living together. (I am just as concerned for those who might move into the home as I am for the neighbors!)
If he is going to run this as a business, let’s call it that and treat it as such – I mean, come on, really?

Rick May 16, 2018 at 1:39 am

Its interesting who has rights and who doesn’t in cases like this.

You look at the police fire and ems calls on the daily logs the facilities Norwalk has accepted and allowed to open taxes the system to a point where Norwalk unless they double the departments before the mall opens some of these poor souls Norwalk is hostimg will be in trouble .

Fire dept wants sprinklers , health board wants secure medical waste, one way valves for water sources so the neighbors are not drinking nasty water all things never commented on.Did any of it come up?

Some don’t understand how this effects them, maybe some are ready for a home either way its the issues not talked about that seem to be alarming

Imagine a house full of senior Pedophiles or a house full of coke heads The Catholic Church in colonial South America saw use of the coca leaf as undermining the spread of Christianity. In 1551,

1 size fits all now , the city had its chance to stop the nonsense yet the Democrats decided to let this all play out. Maybe once this happens all over the city including Rowyaton it will become an issue.

So come join us in protest when Quintard ave opens learn what t takes to become political and what your new neighbors will bring.

Joining the Republican party sounds like a good idea at this point now you have seen what the democrats have done and planned, and if Duff wasn’t enough to leave the democratic party , wait till the city get done leaving Norwalk will be the next best thing to do.

alan mcnichols May 16, 2018 at 9:00 am

This dates back to 2015. I recall the family member was really ticked off because after the theft was revealed, FF Family Care was seeking rent money…
The lovely settings can hide a lot of dark secrets.

A home health aide is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a woman diagnosed with a mild form of dementia and using it to buy “expensive” merchandise on Greenwich Avenue.

Laura Luzardo, 28, of Ingelside Drive, Stamford is facing criminal charges — again — involving fraud and theft.

{…}

Here is the review, left by someone involved:

Review
If you have an elderly person in your life who you really care about, do not, I repeat DO NOT use Fairfield Family Care. They put a young woman in my mother’s home to care for her, and she took advantage of my Mom’s trusting nature and dementia, and swindled my Mom out of $200,000! To make matters worse, this so-called care giver had a criminal background history where she had been convicted of larceny for committing the same crime against someone else, and this conviction was a matter of public record, but Fairfield Family Care clearly did nothing to vet this employee, and has made no offers of restitution to our family after the fact. The employee who stole from my Mom his since been convicted of that crime and is now behind bars, thank goodness. Her name is Laura L******, in case you all want to ascertain the truth of the information contained therein. P.S. After Laura L****** was arrested, Fairfield Family Care had the audacity to call me seeking payment for a small, unpaid balance. These people are really bad news.
Edited to remove large portions of a news article, out of concerns for copyright infringement.
These articles contain the information referred to:
https://greenwichfreepress.com/police-fire/250k-bond-for-woman-who-bilked-elderly-greenwich-woman-of-retirement-savings-37312/
https://www.greenwichtime.com/local/article/Police-aide-hired-immediately-asks-victim-for-6236328.php
The review: https://www.bbb.org/connecticut/business-reviews/home-care/fairfield-family-care-llc-in-stamford-ct-87087127/reviews-and-complaints

Edwinz1 May 16, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Does anyone know how the appeals process works give that some of the neighbors will be appealing this? Will they have a fair hearing or will this be just another sounding board for homeowners to have their hands held while city hall stabs them in the back despite having grounds to overturn this.

Edwinz1 May 16, 2018 at 1:16 pm

I am also having trouble reconciling the Planning and Zoning director’s remarks from above, “They do require assistance with cooking and cleaning but are not receiving medical care” with the description of the services provided, “Sunshine Senior Residence is committed to providing (one on one care) and the best team of round-the-clock caregivers, on-call physicians, and a staff that is trained specifically for working with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, Fall risk clients and elder care residents.”

This application sounds like a qusi medical facility which on face value is NOT ALLOWED on residential streets and the Director’s approval for the application is contradictory to the business which is advertising medical care. . . somewhat disappointing that P&Z did not catch this charade.

Al Bore May 16, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Has the west Norwalk association looked into this matter, perhaps someone might want to bring it to their attention. They are a non political group meaning they have the ability resolve issues without political motives, instead they should only have the interest of the residents first and foremost. I am away until Monday and will try do that when I get back however sooner might be better. West Norwalk zoning does not allow for businesses and should not start now. That is a business as far as I can tell from reading this article.

Rick May 16, 2018 at 6:37 pm

Its a done deal , next election vote smart or at least vote for a smarter city hall.

Why not ask Chris Murphy where his bill went he was going to file to oppose such things?

This could be sober house without a permit, in fact its looking like the opposition doesn’t understand fight the nursing home and get a sober house , is probably what Gary wants.More money in it as non profit.

Shame it isn’t a gas station of a bike lane you would of had plenty of help fighting it.

Steve Kleppin what a hire , he has probably has come up with a half dozen jokes on west Norwalk on this. He is Harry’s jester.

I’d call Bob Duff its that time for him too grab some headlines,

What about Harry he knows the deal run silent run deep.

You all need to grow up, this quintard ave deal has owners on the IRS and Fed hook on doing wrong , did that stop them?

Its time to learn whats going on in the city and not one street at a time.

Why not Wall st they are looking for train riders?

Look up sober house denials the city could use, there are none. Same with this assisted living crap,

Thought we were kidding it can happen anywhere in the city to anyone, you have no rights and you have no city backbone.

“We did issue a zoning permit for 7 Forest Hill Road,” Kleppin wrote in an email Kleppin probably helped Gary fill out the paperwork.

Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola confirmed that the law department was consulted but denied “fear of lawsuits.” Whats up with Firetree Mario? Costing the city any money yet?

Instead of making new laws or fixing the hole for these things they sit and do nothing this is the Democratic run city folks,they have had almost two years to fix the problem.

Maybe the city can help ease the transition have them buy 5 mail boxes to show the city has no ill feelings.

This wont be the last one, yet finding out about it will be standard operating procedure , don’t tell the idiots who are paying our salaries they may call city hall expecting us to answer the phone.

Lets take it to court get there early for a good seat make it the one next to the door.

If city hall is the business to p!$$ people off they did a good job on this one.

The city has admitted they threw the court case in favor of Gary so get over it its a done deal.

Rick May 16, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Im sorry don’t call Duff the sign in front of 7 forest hill said it all.

7 Forest Hill Road https://www.williampitt.com/agents/bobduff/

Nora the city has had time to change more than a few rules I find it interesting nothing has changed other than a multi million dollar law suit, and others to follow on Firetree from those the city hurt.

No one can defend Kleppin he is what the city wanted , and what New Cannan didn’t want, he did or did not come from the same kind of controversy ? Keeping ones mouth shut is not what Norwalk needed just what city hall wanted.

Its not proper for a city worker to make excuses for the mayor worst not mention the mistakes where the city learned nothing.

The city has done it again without any remorse the voters should know this,

Rem May 17, 2018 at 8:06 am

@Eleanor Lx. Please show me the conclusive data in which mixed use depresses quality of life. There’s about 20-30 years of current architectural and planning trends that say otherwise. I lived in West Norwalk, a “AAA” zone for about 19 years or so and while yes it’s beautiful and relatively tranquil (traffic not so tranquil anymore) it’s not what I consider to be a “good neighborhood”. I was fortunate to live on a street where there were old timers who liked talking to each other. But that’s an anomaly these days. Everyone keeps to themselves (a generally increasing trend in Fairfield County) living in their private enclaves. It’s rare to see people walking around much less talking to each other, on the street. I’ve tried walking in the neighborhood but its not like there’s much of any sidewalks and there’s always a worry that I will get run over by a luxury car speeding along at 40 mph. “Why the hell are you walking? Get outta of the street! I have an important meeting at [insert shopping destination]!” There’s no neighborhood feeling. I wish there was a neighborhood mom-and-pop store I could walk to instead of hopping in the car and driving to a supermarket or to Main Street. Well, there’s a farm on Devonshire, sort of. I didn’t really feel a part of anything besides living in a park like setting. But that’s why people move to West Norwalk apparently.

@Paul Cantor. I did write that Mr. Ferone is personally flawed, did I not? Everyone deserves forgiveness no matter the intensity of the accusation or even the crime. I might suggest for such an individual to consider a different line of work, however, since the “optics” for Mr. Ferone really don’t look good. Yep, and helping out old people I still consider saintly – remember that even charities have overhead and also need to pay rent, utilities, etc. The only difference between a charity and a business is who’s footing the bill.

Just Learned May 17, 2018 at 8:15 am

It is truly amazing that a story such as this with enough negative commentary has not garnered the attention of the mayor. Homeowners are frustrated/neighbors violated and all the signs from city hall appear to read, NO HELP HERE. Why are homeowners not protected from this nonsense when the account for a super majority of revenue collections? This is not normal folks and not how city’s should be managed.

JE May 18, 2018 at 11:55 am

It is comical, Stamford’s mayor when confronted by neighbor’s of one of these facilities questioning if it was a business said “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it must be a duck”, yet never did anything and never got vocal, yet when someone wants to build a Chic-Fit-A in Stamford he is all over the news and the Z&P boards voicing his opinion that it should be voted down.

Paul Cantor May 18, 2018 at 10:22 pm

@ Galen Wells. FIX THE PROBLEM BY CHANGING THE DEFINITION OF “FAMILY”? NO. THAT WOULD BE CREATING A MAJOR PROBLEM FOR ALL TAXPAYERS!

This from the city of Norwalk Zoning Commission’s April 18, 2018 minutes in which Ms. Wells, a member of the Commission was quoted as saying she thought “it was a good idea for older citizens to become a part of, rather than being in an institution” and in which it was suggested that the Zoning Commission could fix the problem by changing the definition of “family.”

“VII. COMMENTS OF DIRECTOR There was a discussion about a new application and the definition of “family.” Neighbors were notified the prior Friday. Mr. Kleppin has met with several of them. He noted that several Zoning staff members were not in favor of it but were advised by Corporation Counsel that it should be approved.

Ms. Wells thought that it was a good idea for older citizens to become a part of, rather than being in an institution. There was a discussion about whether this was a desirable or undesirable use. The developers said that there were not under any regulations because they were not administering managed health care.

Mr. Kleppin explained that it was similar to having roommates. There are no restrictions on parking. It was in West Norwalk. Some of the neighbors were not pleased and claimed that the property would decrease their property values.

If the Zoning Commission wanted to fix the problem, then they could change the definition of ‘family.’”

Allowing a businessman to operate a home for the elderly in an AAA residential district does not fix a problem. Rather it creates a problem for all taxpayers by undermining the confidence of homeowners and potential home buyers that the city will honor its zoning regulations. Hence it will have a devastating effect on property values in the city.

Edwinz1 May 19, 2018 at 8:46 am

Thank you Paul for your post. Why hasn’t Mayor Rilling spoken out on this given all the promises he made to shore up zoning? This demonstrates the weakness of the corporation counsel and planning and zoning departments for refusal to stand up and protect our residential quality of life. I also find it distasteful that any zoning commissioner would impose her advocacy for institutional elder care on residential streets. I urge anyone who cares about our residential quality of life to attend the Zoning Board of Appeals June 7th on this matter to appeal and overturn this permit as this can happen to any of our residential streets.

Carol Karl May 25, 2018 at 2:32 pm

Gary Ferone, OWNER of what Norwalk’s Forest Hill will make FOUR “senior residents” are being staffed by non-certified workers whose dispense medication. This is in clear violation of the State of Connecticut’s scope of practice for health aides. We North Stamford neighbors are watching this guy closely and reporting anything of ill will we see to authorities. Ambulances and police vehicles frequent these Sunshine Houses. One disgruntled caregiver who neighbors are sure had every right to be with Gary Ferone mistreating them, was clear “bad things happen in that house and Gary keeps it all a secret”. A family member currently initiated an investigation with the Department of Elderly Protection Service with the State of CT for elder neglect and abuse. Articles with quotes as well as Fairfield Family Care advertisements remain false advertisements. Ferone states that nurses and doctors visit the residents and dieticians are on duty. When the fired caregiver was asked after years of service, she maintained “there are no such people”. Misleading seniors with dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimers is simply inhumane as the owner who is running these businesses. Ferone receives $6,500 rent from each resident which is often their life savings and is not qualified to care for these very sick clients who need MEDICAL CARE!

Like another gentleman before said, just Google Gary Ferone’s name:

https://www.aol.com/2010/07/22/meet-over-drinks-dating-service-called-a-fraud/

http://www.consumermotion.com/product/gary-ferone-assisting-hands-p227628.html

https://www.leagle.com/decision/19961189167misc2d102211029

http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/9611221588/convicted-financier-seeks-deal-d-a

https://www.finra.org/sites/default/files/DisciplinaryAction/p007551.pdf

……………AND THE LIST GOES ON!

Paul Cantor May 25, 2018 at 10:22 pm

@ Rem

If you prefer to live in a mixed-use neighborhood then you should purchase a home in a neighborhood zoned for mixed uses not criticize those in West Norwalk who object to the zoning laws governing their AAA residential neighborhood being violated.

Your statement that “The only difference between a charity and a business is who’s footing the bill,” is wrong. Businesses are profit oriented. Charities are not.

Donna Smirniotopoulos May 26, 2018 at 9:11 am

@Paul Cantor, thank you for pointing out to @Rem the importance of zoning integrity. If mixed use were inherently better for all, we might as well dispense with zoning regs entirely and commence the development free for all. AAA residential neighborhood property owners are “buying in” to larger lots and freedom from commercial and business uses. This also puts home owners out of proximity to the conveniences that those who choose to live in mixed use zones have ready access to. There is also usually, though not always, a cost factor.

I’d like to clarify the charity/business distinction, though, because for Quintard Avenue residents (B zone on one side and C on the Firetree side), the “charitable” intruder appears to be profiting from lucrative taxpayer funded federal contracts to house federal prisoners. If/when they open their congregate living drug house at 17 Quintard, they will likely be collecting state Medicaid payments to make the venture more “profitable.” Many not-for-profits are expert at funneling money back to themselves, and Firetree seems to be no exception. Our zoning regs do not allow us to favor the “good” applicants over the “bad”. But in this instance, one would imagine that the P&Z would reject a back door application to continue a pre-existing non-conforming use (rehab) because the applicant never intended to pursue that use until recently. A period of several years elapsed in fact—perhaps three—and the right to the nonconforming use should have rightly expired. I believe corporation counsel may have encouraged P&Z to massage the rules a bit in order to dangle the proverbial carrot in front of a known litigious applicant as a first step towards negotiating a settlement that won’t set the City back too far in settlement costs. In other words, the reasoning at City Hall may be that it’s okay to throw the families and children living on and around Quintard under the bus here as long as the mayor comes out of it without another million dollar settlement on his record to explain away around the next election.

Unlike those who are able to afford to buy in AAA zones, B and C zone homeowners are less likely to hire outside counsel to defend themselves and protect the equity in their homes against unwanted uses. They can’t afford to.

Put another way, we don’t dare put a zip line in Cranbury Park. But it’s okay to park drug abusers in a family home in South Norwalk.

Cecilia Andy May 26, 2018 at 8:50 pm

This is yet another example of why Norwalk’s grand list is stuck in the land of stagnation as homeowners face a 4% mill rate increase this year. What a terrible precedent if this elder care facility is allowed to open by what appears to be a questionable operator. I can not imagine how having frequent police and ambulance visits on tranquil West Norwalk roads as described in Carol’s remarks be beneficial to the city’s residential brand.

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