Cavallo calls legal language in Norwalk settlement ‘appalling’

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalkers should be very concerned about what’s in the legal language of the proposed settlement with the Al Madany Islamic Center, a politically active Norwalk lawyer said Tuesday.

A lawyer for the Al Madany Islamic Center disputed that.

Planning Commissioner Victor Cavallo said at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting that, as an attorney, he was appalled by what he had learned Tuesday about the consent order that is in the settlement.

“This is about as burdensome a consent order as you can have. The denizens in this town of transparency should be appalled, if they knew, what this consent order contains. If the citizens of Norwalk knew what it contained there would be an insurrection,” Cavallo said.

The consent order marginalizes the entire city as well as the immediate neighbors of the mosque proposed for 127 Fillow St., he said.

“The consent order commands the Zoning Commission to issue a special permit even though there is not one pending and they have no obligation to apply for another permit. … We don’t know what this permit is going to contain other than the fact that the permit is going to be consistent with the site plan,” Cavallo said.

“It commands all city agencies and departments to issue permits no matter or not if those departments think it is appropriate or even safe.  If we deign to reject those permits we’re back up in federal court. It commands the city and the agencies to renew in perpetuity all of the permits that would be issued,” Cavallo said.

“If the city doesn’t comply with the provisions of this consent order, whether or not it’s a substantive denial of any permit it would go to federal court. The court is going to be monitoring us for years and years and years until this mosque is built,” Cavallo said.

The court will be monitoring Norwalk beyond that, he said, because the Al Madany Islamic Center could decide to come back for modifications.

Attorney Chris Bouchoux of WilmerHale, lawyer for Al Madany, said otherwise.

“That consent order, unlike the previous statement, clearly defines the scope and terms of use of the mosque and the process by which the city of Norwalk will issue future applications. The city of Norwalk will not be forced to issue future applications, will not be powerless to deny future applications, said Bouchoux.

He read what he said were parts of the order:

“Al Madany shall abide by the special permit approval, the terms of the settlement agreement and applicable law including all applicable codes, regulations, and ordinances in the city of Norwalk.”

“For any issuance of new permits that Norwalk shall exercise good faith in issuing such permit approvals and shall not fail to do so absent good cause.”

“That is not a mandate, that is simply saying that the city of Norwalk needs to treat Al Madany like it treats everyone else,” Bouchoux said. “That is what this consent order is.”

Correction, 6:41 p.m.: word “not” was taken out of quote with result: “it would go to federal court.”


5 responses to “Cavallo calls legal language in Norwalk settlement ‘appalling’”

  1. anon

    Attorney Cavallo, a West Norwalk attorney, says the consent order is appalling.
    Al Maldny’s New York City attorney Bouchoux says it’s not so bad, Norwalk wouldn’t be ‘powerless’. Isn’t that comforting.

    Since he’s representing the other side in Greenwich, what would Norwalk’s corporate counsel Mario Coppola’s response be for his clients in Greenwich?

  2. It’s just laws.

    Cavallo’s statement was completely refuted by the attorney for the mosque when he read the actual language of the consent order into the record, which stated the city retains all of its power through its codes and regulations, word for word. Why would Cavallo blatantly lie about the consent order in front of a crowd, except to inflame passions? It is frightening to know he is on our Planning Commission.
    The irony is it is the Planning Commission that is partly responsible for our broken code, which a mosque representative referred to last night by saying the Planning and Zoning staff advised the mosque on the original application, by helping the mosque follow the code exactly for height, size, lot coverage, and parking requirement. It is our code that is the problem, not the mosque which just followed it and then still got turned down. The code needs to be overhauled.

  3. Piberman

    And what does the “nationally prominent attorney” hired by the City say ?

  4. West Norwalk Neighbor

    Yes, thank goodness we have all these amazing Norwalk attorneys who know so much more than the “national experts”. Zullo will bring us BJ’s on Main Ave, Cafero is bringing us the mall, DiPanfilis & Co gave away the Isaacs street lot to POKO and three city streets to 95/7, and we have Cavallo on the Planning Commission. Isn’t it great we have them all to keep our city and neighborhoods safe? Oh, wait, what is that I see – is that a minaret?

  5. Suzanne

    “For any issuance of new permits that Norwalk shall exercise good faith in issuing such permit approvals and shall not fail to do so absent good cause.” Since Attorney Bouchoux is taking the terms out of context, I feel entirely justified in doing so.
    Who decides what is “good faith”and “good cause”? It does sound like Al-Madany is at the wheel of this semi and running the process as it sees fit. I am sure “good faith” and “good cause” has as much meaning as the term “is” is. (Clintonian reference.)
    Meantime, I am sure those attorney’s fees will continue to climb as the out of context terms provided by Attorney Bouchoux are determined in their meaning, an impossible task.

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