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Norwalk officials: Milligan demolitions illegal, unsafe

A photo taken Friday at 31-39 Wall St. If the wood lath had ignited, the entire block would have gone up in flames, Norwalk Chief Building Official Bill Ireland said. (Contributed)

Updated, 2 p.m.: comments from Jason Milligan; 8:42 a.m.: Additional quote from Laoise King.

NORWALK, Conn. – Workers scattered and fled last week when Norwalk officials began asking about the demolition work they were doing for Jason Milligan.

The Norwalk Fire Department was called Friday to 31-39 Wall St, a Milligan property, because the unauthorized demolition severed a sprinkler line and the first-floor stores underneath were flooded, officials said. Norwalk Chief Building Official Bill Ireland said he subsequently found cut electrical wires throughout the second floor, some of which were live, and conditions that were unsafe for workers.  The flooded stores remain closed.

Ireland issued a stop work order Wednesday, and said it was the third time Milligan has recently flouted building regulations. The State Department of Public Health, the Department of Consumer Protection, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were all alerted due to what officials said were lead paint dust and workers who were likely unlicensed.

Ireland and Chief of Staff Laoise King said the workers had no protection against the health hazard.

Milligan stop work 19-0719 31-19 Wall

“The workers were not only breathing the dust, but the dust was all over the site and essentially everywhere,” King said, expressing concern for neighbors.

Ireland said he was easy on Milligan for the first two offenses, instructing him on proper procedures, but the continued disregard for regulations was “totally ridiculous,” and made it necessary to issue violations.

Google’s 2018 photo of 31 Wall St. (Google)

“It’s not new,” Ireland said Wednesday evening. “What really upset me was they went through it, then, and they have done it again. And God knows what other properties (Milligan might be having work done on without a permit). There’s no consideration for the town, there’s no consideration for neighbors, there’s no consideration for anybody.”

Ireland said the fire marshal received an anonymous tip Wednesday about 4 Berkeley St.  and he’d been called to inspect. The door was locked so officials couldn’t get in, but could see through windows that demolition was being done inside without a permit. That building also belongs to Milligan, under another LLC. A violation notice is being written up, he said.

 

Milligan at odds with City

Milligan, a real estate broker who has bought at least 19 properties in the Wall Street area, is involved in a prolonged legal battle with the City. He is being sued for the unauthorized purchase of properties — including two former municipal parking lots — that were slated to be used in the Wall Street Place development, and is suing the City to challenge the Wall Street-West Avenue Neighborhood Plan, which specifies how the area will develop.

Milligan was cited for Zoning violations on another property in September, and claimed he was “being treated differently than everybody else.” In October, former Zoning Commission Chairwoman Jackie Lightfield filed a Zoning complaint on Milligan for a mural he’d had painted, covering the side of one of his newly-acquired buildings. Fines were issued as more Milligan murals appeared, as the real estate “activist” garnered community support. With the Zoning Commission working on changing mural regulations, Milligan had two new murals painted in June before new rules were finalized, then claimed it was just a mix-up, according to The Hour.

 

 

An LLC here, an LLC there.

The property at 31-39 Wall Street was bought for $1.2 million in June by HM 39 Wall LLC, which lists Milligan as member and Attorney Candace Fay as agent. The LLC was registered in February.

The property at 4 Berkeley St. was acquired in April by 4 Berkeley LLC which lists Milligan and a member and Attorney Marc Grenier as agent. Grenier is also the Redevelopment Agency’s attorney. The LLC was registered in March 2018. The property was sold for $0, according to the City’s website; the prior owner was FM Investments LLC, which lists Milligan as managing member. The agent is Paul R. Karl Jr. and the LLC was registered in August 2011.

 

‘I tried to get away with it’

Milligan is on vacation in Sweden, with limited internet access. Contacted Wednesday afternoon by NancyOnNorwalk, Milligan said he’d had a Zoning permit pending for two months to build apartments at 31-39 Wall St. and charged the Zoning department with dragging out the process.  He said Zoning had approved a permit and “that day” work began.

Jason Milligan, at a September meeting in City Hall.

He then clarified his explanation to say that the work was definitely done before the permit was issued.

“That’s how it happens all the time, usually you can get away with a little bit here and there and it’s OK,” but the City won’t give him any latitude because of his ongoing conflict with them, he claimed.

His guys had gone to Zoning to get the permit, but it wasn’t given to them, he said. “Did I scream, blast them, for not giving me a permit?  No, I want to build stuff…. I shouldn’t have done some of the work.  I tried to get away with it.  I was pissed that they weren’t giving (the permit) to me.”

Work occurred “a little bit ahead of schedule,” it was supposed to be minor, but the workers “got carried away, started knocking stuff down,” he said.

Told the workers scattered and fled, he said, “I don’t blame them, because who the hell wants to be treated like me?”

“I’ll handle it, I’ll deal with it,” he said.

 

Unsafe conditions, fire could have destroyed entire block

Ireland said the work performed required a demolition permit from the Building Department, and he didn’t know about any Zoning permit.

Pymander, The Center for Natural Healing, a barber shop and a beauty parlor are all closed indefinitely due to the flooding from the sprinkler system, Ireland said. It also appeared that there was demolition going on in another store space, without a permit.

Officials don’t know for sure that the workers don’t have licenses, because they ran without providing information, King and Ireland said.

“The quality of the work was not done up to any type of standard that a licensed professional would employ,” King said.

Milligan’s project manager said testing had been done and the plaster on site was clean but there was lead paint, Ireland said. The Norwalk Health Department was called and took samples of the dust and sent them to the State. It will take two weeks to get the results back.

A photo taken Friday at 31-39 Wall St. (Contributed)

Milligan’s electrician came and said he hadn’t been involved in the project, according to Ireland. The electrician tested the wires and found some that were energized. With the water, this was a fire hazard, Ireland said. Had there been a fire, the wood lath would have lit right up, and “the whole block would have gone.”

Asked if the demolition was unusual, Ireland said, “This isn’t a standard practice. You might see a homeowner trying to do something like this… I have not seen one in this condition on any (commercial) sites in Norwalk,” especially in light of health protections for workers. “I am not comparing apples to apples but almost a comparison to the World Trade Center.”  Workers at Milligan’s properties breathed potentially hazardous dust without any protection.  “These poor guys had nothing on,” Ireland said.

Ireland has been Norwalk’s Chief Building Official since 1994 and was Acting Chief Building Official for two years before that.

He said there had also been demolition issues at the Fairfield County Bank buildings, which Milligan acquired in December under IJ Group LLC. “I get a call from the superintendent, saying, ‘Hey, we’re coming in, we’re finding wires pulled, work is being done but not us,” he said. “I gave him the benefit of the doubt, I told him you don’t do it this way, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that.”

Milligan also did demolition without a permit at 83 Main St., Ireland said.

“This is consistent with the pattern that we have seen from the way that Milligan has operated in this and other scenarios,” King said. “It’s similar to the mural situation. He’s aware of the regulations, he violates them and then he apologizes later.”

“Permitting and licensing is in place to ensure the health and safety of the residents and the businesses and the workers that are on the sites,” Norwalk Chief of Economic and Community Development Jessica Casey said. “This type of behavior doesn’t just impact the local residents, it impacts the city of Norwalk as a whole. There’s a reason we permit in order to ensure the health and safety of folks, so we are grateful for those businesses and those property owners that go through the proper pathways for ensuring that their work is safe.”

Google’s photo of 83 Main St. (Google)

The property at 83 Main St. was bought for $270,000 in June 2018 by SJ REI LLC, which lists Milligan as managing member and Karl as agent. The LLC was registered in October 2010.

Milligan isn’t likely to get fined, because under state statute there’s no fine unless the work resumes, Ireland said. However, given the history and the repeated nature of the offenses, he said he would see if a fine could be issued because Milligan knew the rules but did not follow them.

NancyOnNorwalk could not reach Milligan late Wednesday for follow-up questions.

 

So is Milligan being unfairly targeted?

“I’m sure Milligan will claim we are exaggerating and/or unfairly targeting him but I can assure you we are not,” King wrote in a midnight email. “First – we had no way of knowing about this until the downstairs tenants called because of the water pouring down from their ceiling. When Bill arrived at the location he didn’t even know the building was owned by Milligan – so the inference that we are unfairly targeting him is ridiculous.”

Ireland was “completely shaken when he came back from that site – and as he said, it’s the worst situation he’s ever seen.  Between the lead paint, dust, fire and electrical hazards he was very worried about the health and safety of all involved,” she said.

A photo taken Friday at 31-39 Wall St. “I don’t know what the purpose is for doing everything illegally and jeopardizing people,” Bill Ireland said. (Contributed)

“I was honestly upset for the workers, because they had no idea what they were involved with or into. There was absolutely no supervision. What made me even more upset was the store owners,” Ireland said Wednesday afternoon.

“The poor lady with the beauty parlor was almost in tears. That affected me. I might be a gruff kind of guy, but there was nothing I could do for them, not a darn thing. Even the superintendent came over, he seemed befuddled by what was going on there…. he didn’t know what was going on. I don’t know what the purpose is for doing everything illegally and jeopardizing people.”

King called Ireland “one of the nicest, most genuine and apolitical people in City Hall.”

“He has no agenda and applies the rules equally to everyone. … This is the third and now fourth time the building department has been called to the scene of un-permitted demolition/work at a Milligan property. Bill worked with Milligan to get the permits in order and to get work started again as soon as possible the first two times because the safety risks weren’t as imminent and also giving him the benefit of the doubt that it was unintentional.  At this point it is obviously not a mistake – it is a blatant disregard for the health and safety of his tenants, neighbors and employees – and completely irresponsible,” King said.

Ireland said he is a lifelong Norwalker who remembers the flood that devastated Wall Street in 1955, and the work and time required to recover.  “To see something like this, a total disregard for how to do it and do it right is really upsetting… This is totally ridiculous.”

 

‘I did try to pull the permit’

Milligan on Thursday said he loves Ireland, a no-nonsense guy, but the City is conflating two issues. The permit has nothing to do with it, the businesses would have flooded anyway.

“Obviously, something went horribly wrong,” he said, talking to NancyOnNorwalk from Sweden and asserting that he is trying to fix it and help the businesses. The wires weren’t “live,” but there was electricity in the walls, traveling from the floor below to the floor above, and it was picked up on a meter, according to Milligan. There’s a “minor amount” of lead paint involved and he always has his guys wear respirators.

“They were hacking wires and not getting electrocuted?” he said.

It is necessary to go through Zoning to get the permit and he’s been waiting two months, “following every rule,” biting his lip and not sharing his frustrations with the press as Zoning gave him a hard time about stupid things like an air conditioner, delaying him from building affordable apartments, he said. The City has “thrown every roadblock” in his way. There are too many rules so they can enforce them haphazardly.

There’s nothing going on at 4 Berkeley St., he said, asking how you could see demolition through a window. When the City wants to get you, they say they got an “anonymous tip.”

He prefers as-of-right developments because he doesn’t do well with Committees, and this is an as-of-right project but it’s being delayed, he said, arguing that 95% of the work being done in the City doesn’t go through the permitting system.

“I want to build on Wall Street,” he said. “I don’t want to do it the big, heavy-handed, government way. It shouldn’t be this hard to do the small construction over the counter…. I did try to pull the permit. Then I was away, I got a call, ‘Zoning approved the permit,’ then they called me immediately and said there’s a flood.”

52 comments

Milly July 18, 2019 at 5:06 am

What a mess – we are suppose to believe these workers decided to demolish this site on their own? Now those other businesses are ruined and who knows what hazardous materials are flying around in the air.
Milligan is still trying to play the victim – disgraceful.

Steve July 18, 2019 at 5:52 am

He’ll probably sue the City because they didn’t ensure his guys knew what they were doing…and he’s in it to benefit Norwalk? Maybe he should just paint a mural over it—you know with an American flag. Does he even live here?

Milly July 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

Steve – He lives in New Canaan – go look up Milligan v New Canaan. He built a house too big from the lot and then after the fact wanted New Canaan to give him a zoning variance. Which he did not get.

Bryan Meek July 18, 2019 at 7:32 am

Whether he is in the right or wrong, what is very chilling is how our government can be used to persecute opposition with the full force of other federal and state agencies, when right down the road the old Lohman’s plaza has been turned into a dirt yard with God knows what kind of material being dumped into it blowing all over the West Ave corridor and NOTHING is done about that…..but let’s use our full weight to go after Milligan when there are illegal contractor yards and apartments in every single neighborhood in the city. Sick of the games being played with our city and the mismanagement.

Jo July 18, 2019 at 7:45 am

I am inclined to think that this situation reeks a bit. Milligan is out of the country, and something like this goes down? The workers all “disappeared”? Also seeming kind of hinky to me is that in the limited capacity in which I have done home improvements, I can’t possibly imagine anyone trying to attempt to do that type of work on piles of discarded wood. Also surprised that Laoise King and Jessica Casey were so responsive in opining on this situation.
Will be watching this one with interest. I get the impression that our reporter was curious as well, given this extensive reporting.

Milly July 18, 2019 at 7:58 am

Bryan you are right about all those violations around town. But that does not make Milligan’s violations ok. Why do you want him to get a pass? Pointing out what other people are doing wrong is no help to those businesses that are now flooded.

Jason Milligan July 18, 2019 at 8:16 am

Bill Ireland is a straight shooter and runs one of the best departements in the city. He has always fair to me.

His departement is apolitical.

Unfortunatley to get a permit for 39 Wall the 1st stop is the zoning dept. Next stop is redevelopment agency. I submitted an as of right over the counter permit 2 months ago to zoning. Zoning and Redevelopment both slow rolled my permit.

I have submitted detailed architectural plans and I have paid for the permit! It should not take this lingeri get a permit!!!

Jason Milligan July 18, 2019 at 8:32 am

The broken sprinkler pipe is a very unfortunate accident and is likely due to the old brittle pipes. That event should not be conflated with the permit issue. It would have happened had my permit been issued. I feel terrible for the displaced businesses and we are working hard to get them reopened quickly.

Separately we should absolutely have a conversation about the permit process in the city of Norwalk. The zoning office should take a training course from Stew Leonard about how to treat customers. Simple permits should be fast tracked.

By the way, the permit that has yet to issue is to build 11 affordable apartments on the 2nd floor.

Bryan Meek July 18, 2019 at 8:47 am

@Milly, I’m not giving anyone a pass. I’m just commenting that selective enforcement is chilling. I have no idea what Milligan or vandals or the easter bunny may or may not have done here and I don’t really care that some are just doing their jobs.

They are not doing their jobs in just about every other corner of the city. We could use two or three Bill Irelands. Instead we get a chief of staff and a PR agent.

I do know that there are some very good businesses and tenants in Waypoint who didn’t sign on to live next to a city block size dirt pile with fences falling down and contaminated piles of soil blowing in the breeze. Are we just supposed to drive by this for the next 20 years?

Sid Welker July 18, 2019 at 8:57 am

@Bryan Meek. How in the world did you manage to spin this into Milligan did no wrong or the man is sticking it to him? Permit process is slow in any city. If the workers flee upon arrival that means they knew they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Your party allegiance has no shame. Jason aka “Sorry Bill” (thought that was against page policy btw), just like the murals went up a day prior to approvals and work started alittle early, you seem to always be poking the bear. This time the bear bite you.

Bryan Meek July 18, 2019 at 9:10 am

@Sid. Talk about spin. Why don’t you read what I wrote a little more slowly before mouthing off? “whether he is in the right or wrong” What alternate reality do you live in where that is interpreted as support for Milligan. I wasn’t there, were you? If you believe they didn’t know who owned the building, I have a Walk Bridge to sell you.

Jason Milligan July 18, 2019 at 10:02 am

Who should be teaching who a lesson?

Should City leaders be looking to take me down or try to support my efforts to build up Wall St. They find so many ways to say no, or to slow me down. It is infuriating.

Our process sucks! Their are so many vague steps and committees that every project becomes political.

There is ridiculous wild speculation going on. I am shocked that NON has printed so much nonsense to printed.

The truth is Hygenix tested 39 Wall street for environmental contamination including asbestos. The only thing found was a minor amount of lead paint.

The truth is that I followed all of the permit rules and was slow played and given the run around. My plans were detailed and cost $30,000! I should have gotten a permit in 2 weeks max!

Brian Meek is correct. More people are ignoring or breaking the rules than are following them.

The connected people in town get the rules changed, or a blind eye turned for them and if you are the city you just do whatever you want.

I am trying to fix up Wall st! The current leadership says that is what they want, but their actions are the exact opposite. They may want it but not if it is me that gets it done.

Bill Ireland I love you but you better watch what you state publicly. Were the guys working without respirators or did they run when they saw you?

People that work for me are to always where respirators! Did you see someone actually working without one?

Have you tested the dust and it’s as bad as the World Trade Center or will it take 2 weeks? Your association with the World Trade center is irresponsible especially since I have done environmental testing at the site. You have those reports!

And Laoise King when did you become an expert in the building trades? You are throwing around a lot of innuendo I am surprised the editors at NON permitted it without actual proof of anything. Where is the fact checking?

Final truth, ironically the day the sprinkler broke is the same day zoning contacted us to say the permit was ready. I have paid for it, yet I still don’t have it.

We will complete the other steps in the permit process by going to building and zoning, and we will build 11 beautiful and AFFORDABLE apartments as quickly as the city will pass our progress inspections.

Signed,

Jason Milligan
Who is also sorry to Bill. Zoning and Revelopment are the problem not Building or Fire Dept. I have to say that everyone that I have ever dealt with at Building and Fire are terrific.

Jason Milligan July 18, 2019 at 10:10 am

Sorry Bill was an attempt to avoid moderation or my comments going to trash.

At 12:05 AM I sent the following text to Nancy Chapman:

“Do you have questions about 39 Wall.

Just got the text from Bob stating that story is running tonight.”

I happen to be in another country. I did not have internet last night but I did have access to text. I am also 6 hours ahead of eastern standard time.

Milly July 18, 2019 at 10:12 am

Jason – So are you saying as a developer you do not know how to hire qualified workers who would know not to break apart a sprinkler system and cause a flood?

Jason Milligan July 18, 2019 at 10:34 am

Milly,

I have 2 points.

#1 The old brittle sprinkler pipe breaking was an accident. Accidents happen.

The fanciest contractors in the world have accidents happen every day.

Cranes crash, scaffolding breaks, people fall off ladders.

The broken pipe was an accident and it is being dealt with. Thankfully nobody was hurt.

#2 My enemies at City Hall are looking for a chance to stall me, trip me up or pounce at any chance they can get. (Some of it may be deserved.) In this situation it is not as bad as my enemies are insinuating. My permit was filed and pending. Environmental testing has been done and it is largely a clean bill of health. If my permit was processed in a reasonable amount of time than we would only be dealing with a broken pipe.

Accidents happen every day. Fires and or floods are pretty common place with commercial real estate.

The difference is you don’t have city hall exploiting the situation in this way. More typically the Mayor would tell the people how his heart goes out to the tenants who are displaced. Instead Harry is probably sitting with an evil grin on his face given my misfortune.

Life and this project will move on very quickly.

And while you and others are distracted over this our leadership will give away your city to Citibank tonight.

Sid Welker July 18, 2019 at 10:34 am

@Milly. I have done construction in the past. Not to this caliber but still have enough knowledge to comment. Not every contractor or landlord is perfect when it comes to hitting a wire or pipe. Qualified or not. It happens. But the non-permit and pure negligence is what is in question here. The wrong gauged wire in the walls throughout the building that doesn’t meet code as well as the tenants who have lost business is the real story. Lets not get to hung up on the busted pipe. The city is cracking down on this kind of stuff. And its about darn time.

Captain Obvious July 18, 2019 at 10:37 am

Is there any fire protection required/needed for the POKO building?

That’s 5 stories of completely exposed wood framed interior with zero fire protection. The only utilities in the building are the haphazard electrical for construction work. With all this rain and lightning, just say’n.

Now that could take down the whole block!

Jason Milligan July 18, 2019 at 11:00 am

Sid you made sense until “Pure negligence”

That is a strong accusation from behind your keyboard.

Got any facts to back that up? Or will you take Laoise King’s word for it?

Patrick Cooper July 18, 2019 at 11:08 am

Selective enforcement – pure politics. Oh joy, don’t you love where the cities highest paid (not elected) official focuses her energy.

Timing is everything.

Shame doesn’t work on the shameless.

Sid Welker July 18, 2019 at 11:10 am

Jason.
1.Who is Laoise King and where does she fit into this?
2.What is “strong accusations” when dealing about facts?
3.I don’t need to back it up when the city has the information. Ask anyone in town about the wire used. They will tell you exactly what I wrote. I stand by it.

Jason Milligan July 18, 2019 at 11:28 am

Sid,

What exactly was “pure negligence”?

Who exactly are you accusing of negligence?

Negligent old pipes or wires installed a hundred years ago most likely done exactly to the time period standards…?

Bob Welsh July 18, 2019 at 11:30 am

@Sid Welker — I’m not sure which policy you mean. We don’t typically allow speculation as to the real identity of anonymous users, but in this case the “anonymous” user clearly identified himself in his comments from the beginning.

To avoid any misunderstanding, and with Jason Milligan’s agreement, I have added his name to the comments posted earlier as “Sorry Bill.”

Ron Morris July 18, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Bryan Meek and Jason Milligan are both part of Team Lisa. Is this what anyone would want for Norwalk? I think not.

Gordon Tully July 18, 2019 at 12:07 pm

Observing things from the outside it is difficult to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. This post makes thing much clearer. As I suspected, Milligan seems to be a downsized version of Trump, pushing people around in order to get what he wants. Seems to be the contemporary ethic. As the president is fond of saying “SAD.”

Entitled folks are in for a rude shock as things become difficult and crucial systems break down as a result of global warming and over-population. Business as usual is now a dead issue, making planning difficult to impossible. The hope is that the cooperative side of human nature wins out over aggression and selfishness, but based on history, I am not optimistic. Best course is to soldier ahead, maximizing cooperation since we are all in this together. People like Milligan have no place in a cooperative society.

Jason Milligan July 18, 2019 at 12:36 pm

Excuse me Gordon?

I am quite capable of cooperating. I am am never willing to get pushed around and bullied.

Harry’s administration has tried to bully me.

I have repeatedly tried to cooperate. I am not dogmatic. I have not demanded 100% of my ideas be implemented. I have asked for a seat at the table. I have done what I can to improve Wall st both publicly with fan fare and privately when nobody is looking.

I will meet with and openly discuss ideas with anyone and everyone.

It is this administration that is closed minded and iron fisted.

The wool has sadly been pulled over your eyes.

Debora Goldstein July 18, 2019 at 12:50 pm

While enforcement may not be selective, the immediate broadcast of the incident to the world sure seems to be. On the very day when the conversation COULD be about the public hearing on the plan to resuscitate the Tyvek Temple construction and its impacts on Wall St, we are talking about a plumbing mishap during (possibly) non-compliant demolition work in a building owned by the City’s Public Enemy #1. One could only wish that the City was this diligent about announcing road closures. If anyone cares about safety, the work at 50 Washington needs a looksee. The lack of signage to access the building and the ankle-turning potholes in the footpaths there are a nightmare.

Jason, you have been a naughty, naughty boy. It hurts your case when you ask the City to follow the rules, and you are not following them yourself.

We should do what we can to help the folks who were affected by the flooding, and ensure the safety of the immediate hazards. I’m sure there’s insurance to be sorted out. But folks in rented spaces are always subject to these kinds of mishaps. When I was a tenant in NYC, I was flooded from above by children overflowing bathtubs, and adults who did not properly defrost a refrigerator. Licensed plumbers doing work in an adjoining unit would forget to turn the water back on when they were done, leaving us without water until the landlord could be contacted.

Bill Ireland is a gentleman and very fair-minded. Too bad we don’t have two more people just like him.

Rusty Guardrail July 18, 2019 at 12:57 pm

Milligan is like Trump? A self-acknowledged sexual molester/accused multiple rapist/proven thief/10,000 x liar/perpetual hate-monger? Jason Milligan?

Milligan does seem to resemble Robert Moses, the lawless outlier who designed NYC as we know it today. Among his myriad exploits: Lacking permits, and employing non-union workers, Moses transformed a barren deserted sand bar into Jones Beach State Park. Typically, Moses’ projects were near completion before fumbling bureaucrats filed motions to stop him.

Milly July 18, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Deborah – you are comparing an over flowing bath tub – to a group of workers illegally sledge hammering an entire upper floor and flooding the businesses below? Mr. Milligan himself said he was trying to get work done without a permit – where do you get the possibly non compliance from?

Jason Milligan July 18, 2019 at 1:59 pm

Milly,

I did not say that. I attempted to pull a permit at this site 2 months ago and I had been patiently waiting for the “process” to play out. Unfortunately Zoning and Redevelopment get 1st crack at permits, even simple over the counter ones.

Guess if zoning and Redevelopment worked with any urgency??

They did NOT!

I attempted to do some light work in anticipation of the pending permit.

Sadly my permit is still held hostage despite me “following the rules”. I even let my architect do all the talking and visits and kept my mouth shut.

The pipe breaking is sad. The onerous and corrupted permit process is a travesty!

The process can and should be modernized and streamlined. Find the city in this country that does it best and emulate them. Better yet hire some people from there to come here.

Nicholas July 18, 2019 at 2:00 pm

This is awful. I feel horrible for those businesses. I get my hair cut at Georgeys. He just renovated the interior. all of those guys are now out of work/income. Unacceptable.

I’m tired of Wall Street getting put through the ringer because of one person. It makes all of us look bad and makes locals timid to visit the street. PLEASE, come on down to the businesses east of Main St. We have it together. We keep it positive & fun.

Norwalk is a fabulous place to live, Wall Street is wonderful, and the constant barrage of negativity by the “Wall Street Neighborhood Association” needs to stop. Please…. just disband.

Debora Goldstein July 18, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Milly,

Please don’t put words in my mouth. I was simply pointing out that this kind of thing happens, regardless of who owns, and who is the tenant above you.

And yes, possibly, because neither side has demonstrated clean hands when they have used the media in the past. Perhaps “allegedly” would have been a better word. I don’t recall the City going into full media attack mode the MULTIPLE times they were tipped off about the illegal work done on the Firetree halfway house down on Quintard.

Jason will be the first to tell you that I have hammered him in public in the past over his guerrilla tactics and lawbreaking. I also hammer the City when I think they aren’t serving the public.

The focus should be on helping the flooded businesses made whole and back up and running ASAP.

We’ve got a public hearing tonight, and a heat emergency headed our way over the next three days and this is what the City chose to make into a front page story.

Michael McGuire July 18, 2019 at 3:28 pm

@ Nicholas

The Wall Street Neighborhood Association is open to all who want to make this area a better place. We would be happy to have you as a member. Glad to see that Wall Street east of Main Street is doing so well.

WSNA was formed in early 2018 by the local business and property owners to address the City’s decades of neglect of this area. Our moto is “this is like rugby, anyone can pick up the ball and run with it”.

Just think, if we disband Norwalk would lose out on the following:

Christmas Lights – first time in decades this area has been lite for the holiday

Parades – the “Lantern” and “The Doggie”parade

A Weekly newsletter sent to over 200 subscribers – to get on the distribution list send your e-mail to [email protected]

Bold plans to save the Garden Cinema

The “Market on Main” and the Wall Street Restaurant Week, both which had their first debuts earlier this month.

Citizen sponsored tree well improvements (all those tree wells with mulch and ground cover and fencing – that’s your neighborhood community at work.

True we needed to call out some of the injustices. And we did attempt to get a better deal for all of Norwalk by applying our considerable collective wisdom to the POKO project. And in doing so we did highlight the limitations of being public advocates in Norwalk.

But as discouraging as things like POKO/McClutchy, and negative sentiment by people who don’t take the time to meet us may be, I think we are bringing real value to Norwalk.

Looking forward to having you to the next meeting.

Nancy Chapman July 18, 2019 at 4:30 pm

The incident occurred Friday. I learned of it from a source then and sought information. City officials declined to speak or confirm the rumor until the report was completed, which was Wednesday. Then I peppered Bill Ireland with emails and contacted Laoise, as Josh Morgan is on vacation. She set up a conference call with Bill and Jessica, and we spoke by phone for about 20 minutes.

Gordon Tully July 18, 2019 at 4:46 pm

Rusty Guardrail, I think you are absolutely right in comparing him to Robert Moses, as he was as you say a law unto himself. Trump carries so much other baggage that singling out his selfishness obscures the point. Thanks for the comment – I forgot that Trump is not the only narcissist in the pantheon.

Marc Alan July 18, 2019 at 6:18 pm

The Wall Street Neighborhood Association has done nothing than advocate for the residents, business, and property owners of Wall Street, running a weekly newsletter that advertises local business at no cost to anyone.

We created the First Friday’s event, have organized first Norwalk Make Music Day, helped fundraise Vinca plants around the trees on Wall Street, helped raise money for holiday lighting, helped start the Norwalk Film Festival, we ran the first Doggie Parade on Wall Street, organized the first Wall Street Restaurant Week, and now spearheading a campaign to build on the Garden Cinema to create a Norwalk Film Center, a non profit community theater with After School Programs, and Education courses in Film Production.

What barrage of negativity are you taking about Nicholas?

Paul A. July 19, 2019 at 10:01 am

A short after note regarding Mr. Mulligan’s comment that seems to have slipped by a couple of times. He crows about “we will build 11 beautiful and AFFORDABLE apartments”
First, very Trumpian writing, a couple more adjectives and caps and he’s Donnie Boy Jr. Or this hilarious spin “attempted to do some light work in anticipation of the pending permit.” Those pics from Mr. Ireland hardly look like light work.
Second, wait, aren’t Jason and Lisa (who is oddly not chiming in here (maybe shes seeing more “reality” and chooses to pretend this negligence did not hurt those local businesses) always griping about how affordable housing is horrible for the area and a death knoll but here he is spinning it to his favor. (Aka DJT, thinking we will forget what he just said or wrote)
This post helped me again see the situation as it appears to be. An outsider, whether in New Canaan or jetsetting in EU is trying to shuffles things up horribly for our long struggling downtown, hope the rest of WSNA see through the charade before they follow him down the rabbit hole like Lisa did.

Bryan Kerschner July 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

Doing work without the proper permits is a dumb mistake to make, Jason should know better. Also you’re not being selectively delayed, permits routinely take 3-4 weeks to review in zoning, they’re a small staff with a ton of applications to handle. That’s been the timeframe for review for at least a year. Is it frustrating? Absolutely, but you plan your projects around it. Stop using the selective persecution argument when you jumped the gun and damn well know it. As a last comment, Bill Ireland’s integrity and professionalism are beyond reproach and I’m glad Jason noted that in his comments. The building department in Norwalk is by far the best to work with, at least in my experience, in Fairfield County.

Kathleen July 19, 2019 at 11:53 am

Jason, please state how you are going to fix the flooding issues for the business below your rush to work without a permit. No need to repeat the slowness and frustration with the permitting process. We get that. What, exactly, will you do to ameliorate the problem you caused for these businesses?

Scott July 19, 2019 at 2:37 pm

@Sid – “the city is cracking down on this stuff. And it’s about time.” Really?! How about the city also cracking down on illegal apartments where two or three families reside in what is supposed to be a single family dwelling? As an ‘outsider’ who has no monetary or real estate interests in the Wall St area, I see a guy ‘Jason’ who wants to make the neighborhood better, but is constantly battling city hall and the RDA to do so. How about city hall enforcing the laws we already have on the books rather than continuing to persecute this guy? Right or wrong, I suspect I’m not the only ‘outsider’ who sees it this way. If I am on the wrong side of this issue, then city hall has a bigger perception/messaging issue they need to address.

Jason Milligan July 19, 2019 at 3:15 pm

Kathleen,

Thank you for your concern for my tenants. I too feel terrible for the displaced businesses and I have spent considerable time on the phone while on vacation trying to fix the situation.

For starters, one of the businesses has been using my office to work out of. We have some spare computers and space. The others we offered some temporary space.

We are working as quickly as possible to get them reopened. 2 of the 4 should be back open within a week.

The other 2 have more extensive damage and will take a little longer.

When they do reopen it will be in new space that is better than ever.

Soon they will also have 11 to 20 new customers in the brand new affordable apartments right above them.

The facade & signage will also be freshened up.

Sid Welker July 19, 2019 at 3:37 pm

Hey Scott, If Jason is doing Wall St any better then he wouldn’t be using illegal gauged wiring not meant for residential or start work when a permit hasn’t been issued. If Milligan wants what best for Norwalk then he wouldn’t constantly be putting himself first when doing something that is good for the area. Good Samaritans usually don’t want their name or face plastered over the front page of every publication in Norwalk. Not Jason. Its all about him. You also stated the city needs to crack down on the illegal two to three family dwelling in a single family home. I agree 100%. But they need to start somewhere and Jason is a great start. In fact he’s not even the start. They have been cracking down. This is just “news” due to it being Jason and “the city has it out for him” and the businesses that are affected by his negligence. Very sad for them. Insurance companies are tough to deal with and will be pointing fingers on whom to blame all while the tenants sit idle waiting and praying to re-open. In the meantime Mr. Milligan will be Poko this, Rilling that, me me me!!!!!!!

Boxer mcguire July 19, 2019 at 3:58 pm

The damage is done recovery will begin,at any given time an accident can occur.which might cause some folks to make some dum decisions like run which sounds like a youtube moment…very rare in demo these days you see people not wearing some type of respiratory protection it’s just bothersome not to do it…I can definitely see overdrive on the part of a worker to try to score points with your boss, I think most people can remember a time that might of happened in their own life.somebody cut the sprinkler pipe and freaked…so much for over achieving! No one got hurt and that’s awesome
Permits are tough sometimes but you get more with sugar than you get with salt.
The trumpian references that’s a little on the crazy side
The main goal here is the heat wave,the businesses getting up and running again and making sure the bldg and the people in it will be safe that’s it…
A guy is trying to build something, putting a building back on the tax rolls improved were the city can maybe get a little more,beautify the area bring people in that’s Norwalk thru and thru who cares who it is….impediment that’s not an option

Jason Milligan July 19, 2019 at 5:24 pm

Sid,

I applied for a permit to build apartments on the 2nd floor 2 months ago. Did you read about it?

I have numerous other projects going. Are you ware of them? I do not need the limelight. I did not want this story run and I certainly didn’t want the sprinkler to break.

I also deliberately kept a low profile for a 2 decade career until the city sued me over the library deal.

What Harry and his henchmen did on that deal was unconscionable.

Alex Knopp thankfully was there to save the day. Alex is an intelligent, honorable guy who I grew to like and trust. If it weren’t for him Mario would probably still be suing me.

Now that I was forced into activism I might as well embrace it…

Debora Goldstein July 19, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Question: do any of the substantial repairs required for restoration of the flooded businesses require permits/inspections? Will the City expedite those (assuming Mr. Milligan behaves himself and applies for them)?

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