Dunne Planning Commission appointment put on hold

NORWALK, Conn. – A controversial Norwalk appointment scheduled for a vote Tuesday has been pulled from the agenda, Mayor Richard Moccia confirmed.

The nomination of Bill Dunne to the Planning Commission has been pulled from the agenda for Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, Moccia said in an email, confirming a late Monday afternoon rumor. Democrats were planning to oppose the nomination, a source said.

Councilman David Watts (D-District A), the council minority leader, said the vote has been postponed to September. If it had gone ahead Tuesday, there would have been a tie, he said. Moccia would have had to break it.

That may shift within a few weeks, he said.

“He’ll have a little more time to pressure the caucus,” Watts said. “This will give him an opportunity to do what he does, to work on his caucus.”

The Planning Commission seat has been vacant since the fall 2012 death of Don Nelson, City Clerk Erin Herring said. NancyOnNorwalk could not find an obituary online.

“Out of respect for the deceased and the importance of the position, the mayor did not want to just put anyone in there,” Herring said in an email. “The term was up in July 2013, and he felt it best not to appoint someone until further research had been done.”

Nelson  co-founded the Norwalk Tree Alliance in 1995, and was honored at the 2012 Norwalk-Wilton Tree Festival Norwalk’s Tree Advocate of the Year, according to the Connecticut Post.

Dunne, who has been serving on the Fair Rent Commission, strikes a firmly conservative tone on his Facebook page.

Watts called him “extreme.”

Dunne’s Facebook posts and other writings indicate that he does not believe in the theory of global climate change. This led some Democrats to question why he was being appointed to the Planning Commission.

Some NancyOnNorwalk commenters suggested that the appointment was blatantly political and cynical. Asked about that, Moccia responded, “And the opposition is not political?” in an email. “(Dunne) has exercised his freedom of speech. Certainly your blog has people making very nasty things about me. Interestingly, no one opposed him for Fair Rent.”

He did not answer a question regarding the climate change issue.

Republican Common Council President Doug Hempstead and Majority Leader Michelle Maggio did not return requests for comment. Neither did Dunne.


14 responses to “Dunne Planning Commission appointment put on hold”

  1. Piberman

    The real question is whether Mr Dunne’s background and accomplishments are inferior to other P&Z appointed members and whether there is a “litmus test” for appointees. Would Mr Dunne favor Big Box mania with low value added warehouses and low wage jobs. Or would he favor Merritt 7 type projects that once earned Norwalk recognition for successful development.
    Without a Council hearing how could we ever find out. Or is the problem that Mr Dunne a Republican. Would that all of our City’s officials and appointees have Mr Dunne’s capabilities. Maybe that’s the problem.

  2. Tim T

    Failed to mention if Mr Dunne would favor Moccia holes in the ground? Norwalk has thousands of square feet of empty office space. Norwalk has almost ZERO open retail space. This is clear that retail is the way to go.
    Big Box is not a bad word. just ask Milford.END OF STORY

  3. oldtimer

    This close to election Moccia is not looking to make any appointment that will not be a slam-dunk with the council. Dunne will be on hold until Moccia is sure of a slam-dunk. On another subject, a commentor claimed that Moccia had “forced” Rilling to recuse himself on the BJ’s on Main St zoning permit. Is that even possible ? He doesn’t have the authority to force anybody to vote, or recuse himself.

  4. Norwalk Lifer

    Someone like Dunne should not speak for Norwalk, he can barely speak for himself without causing a tsunami of controversy; the disrepect in his words and his replies to people here, should send a message; I don’t care if he volunteers or is paid, he is not the right temperment for this position.

    Norwalk Lifer

  5. D(ysfunctional)TC

    LOL. Only this Dem caucus would qualify someone by their facebook page instead of a resume and at the same time show they are completely out of touch on local issues (global warming? really?).
    Sorry DTC, but Youtube posts about irrelevant subjects isn’t what the city needs and are not going to move this city forward. They just make you a laughing stock.

  6. nwkprobate

    Dunne is so toxic — he is all partisan. What does that do for the desperately needed long term planning in this town?

    Tim T: you obviously don’t own real estate … retail buildings pay little property tax … our focus on retail means we have built no property tax base … office buildings are the big tax generators and Norwalk does not have them. Where is all of the empty office space? Not at Merritt 7

  7. EveT

    If Dunne’s letters to the editor are any indication, his communication style is all based on conflict and venting anger and insults. Why would anyone think that a person like this would be a benefit to the planning commission?

  8. EveT

    Since this appointment is supposed to be replace planning commission member Don Nelson, Tree Alliance founder and environmental advocate, why isn’t Moccia appointing another similar environmental advocate? What qualifications does Dunne have along these lines?

  9. M Allen

    @nwkprobate – I am curious, could you, or anyone else here with direct knowledge, expand on your comment that retail properties pay very little in taxes while other commercial properties, such as office buildings, pay more. I paraphrased of course, but I would like to hear about these differences in a little greater detail. Thanks for your insight.

  10. Debora

    This gentleman in the ShorelineTimes gives a nice explanation of the relatively poor return of property taxes on big box retail
    In addition, the vaunted example of office development in Stamford is facing its own problems
    All of which is why you must always consider carefully not only the option placed before you (those that walk through the door), but the possibilities that you might have to actively work to bring in (those you recruit through your own efforts).

  11. spanner

    First off didn’t Moccia just make Norwalk fire dept the highest paid in the State before the election?I guess I’d take a vacation from all this decision making that some of the councilors are planning on taking.

    Empty space in Norwalk is an interesting subject any figures available?

  12. Norwalk Lifer

    The Mayor’s words: “And the opposition is not political?” in an email. “(Dunne) has exercised his freedom of speech. Certainly your blog has people making very nasty things about me. No Mr. Moccia, it’s not politics, it’s offensive to the rest of us who were raised right.

    Norwalk Lifer

  13. nwkprobate

    M Allen…Debora did post two links of articles which give you some color… tax assessments are driven by state law. State law does not allow the inventory of a retail establishment to be part of the assessment. Thus, all that is there to assess is a big warehouse building that is not very valuable….this compares to an office building, which is better built and has more value (think Merritt 7 versus Home Depot). In addition, state law allows for the contents of an office building to be assessed (from computers to servers to furniture).

    Thus, the office building at 901 Main Street (The Towers at Merritt River — next to Merritt 7) is valued at $76 million. This compares to the Home Depot on Connecticut Avenue which is only valued at $32 million even though it has more than twice the acreage.

    What does this mean? 901 Main pays just over $1 mm a year in property taxes to Norwalk but Home Depot pays just under $0.5 million … even though Home Depot has twice as much land as 901 Main. So, Norwalk ends up with a BJs and a Lowe’s but Stamford gets NBC Sports’ headquarters …

  14. M Allen

    Thanks to you both for providing those links and the added information. After reading those and pulling some comparable tax info on a few key properties, I can see the difference in valuations.

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