Updated, 6:48 a.m.: Copy edits, new headline
NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Planning and Zoning is completely redoing its enforcement, from top to bottom, Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin said Friday.
“Follow-up on complaints is one of our weakest areas,” Kleppin wrote in an email. “I expect to change in the near-term. That happens for a multitude of reasons, chiefly being that due to the volume of activity, staff time often gets monopolized by the issues (on which) we actually get (a) response from the property owners and that require a lot of attention.”
Kleppin was responding to a NancyOnNorwalk inquiry regarding allegations by Jason Milligan, owner of many Wall Street-area properties.
Milligan charged that a business operating from a property he owns was targeted for selective zoning enforcement because Norwalk officials have it in for him, as a result of an ongoing legal dispute. Norwalk and the Redevelopment Agency sued Milligan and Rich Olson of POKO Partners, alleging that Olson’s sale of Wall Street-area properties to Milligan violated the terms of a Land Disposition Agreement covering the properties.
Kleppin received an anonymous complaint about an auto repair business at 97 Wall St., which led to the inspection and issuance of a violation, he said Thursday. Milligan owns 97 Wall St. In a Friday e-mail to NancyOnNorwalk he said he had “no idea” when he received the complaint that it pertained to one of Milligan’s properties. He went on to reject Milligan’s claims of selective enforcement as “false allegations”:
“Because the complaint I received was about illegal autobody with painting I had someone inspect right away because if that is the case the fumes from the painting can be dangerous if not properly ventilated. Our inspectors only observed auto repair, not body work. As I indicated, the message was left on my direct line. Since no address was provided there was no way for me to even look up the property owner, so I had no idea this is one of Jason’s properties.
“There is one error on the notice that was sent out that needs to be corrected, the use is permitted through a special permit but they must cease all operations until that is obtained, should the Commission grant any application.
“Another interesting aspect of this is the amount of time I have spent debunking these false allegations. I was working on the Wall Street rezoning in conjunction with the redevelopment plan, which I thought was the major issue in that area? I think my time is better spent there, which is a better use of taxpayer dollars.”
Milligan was cited Thursday for violations at 97 Wall St. An auto repair facility is operating out of the back of the large building, in a garage labeled “51 Isaac St.,” in violation of the Zoning regulations, according to Deputy Zoning Inspector John Hayducky.
“The city of Norwalk is treating me differently than everyone else. They are going out of their way to block my progress,” Milligan said Thursday afternoon, after receiving the citation.
On Friday, Milligan emailed the City to request an extension, explaining that he served a notice to quit on the business operator, and would commence eviction proceedings if the operator isn’t out by Oct. 1.
“I hope you feel good about yourselves. Your bullying strong arm tactics just put a hurting on 6-8 hardworking families. You are not hurting me. I did not want the auto repair business there at all. We kept it there for now because I respected the owner and his workers. They have been there for 7 years trying to make a living. The rent paid is peanuts.
“While you are lashing out trying to hurt me you are creating a ton of collateral damage. Instead you should find a way to work with me. We could have gracefully moved Fredy and his business to a new location!”
On Thursday, Kleppin had explained that the first complaint on 51 Isaac St. was received in 2017, and a citation issued.
Milligan asked Thursday, “So over one year ago they issued that notice and did nothing about it?”
After writing Friday that “follow-up on complaints is one of our weakest areas,” Kleppin provided NoN with evidence in support of his statement that no property was singled out.
The 2017 citation had been issued in response to a complaint about five properties, Kleppin said Thursday. On Friday he provided this list describing what happened to the other four properties cited in 2017:
- “33 Merwin Street – Old Violation from 2011. Has Motor Vehicle approval from ZBA in 2013. Records show, operation without COZC/CO. But permit HAS BEEN ISSUED…
- “256 Flax Hill Road – Several inspections have shown no signs of Auto Repair at the site, therefore no action was taken
- “19 Laura Street – No evidence of Auto Repair business. Observed one unregistered vehicle and others which looked in bad shape, but with plates. Possibly other issues (Parking/Junk vehicles/Unregistered), no action taken on AUTO REPAIR due to lack of during drive-by’s.
- “183 Main Street – Notice Sent to previous operator (attached). Was going through probate/court at last check. This one is one we are revisiting. Once new inspection is done and documented, we will be sending a New Notice to New operator.”