To the Editor:
I am writing on behalf of Executive Committee of the Norwalk Republican Town Committee. For the record we stand united in demanding that our mayor, Harry Rilling, and the Common Council defend the city, its boards, staff and processes against unfounded and unsubstantiated lawsuits.
As has been pointed out by a number of West Norwalk citizens in letters to the editor over the last few months, the city’s Zoning Commission, acting in a responsible manner, did what any city would have done. It rejected an application based on the inappropriate bulk of the structure, multiple traffic hazards, lack of parking as well as myriad other impacts on the neighborhood and the city as a whole.
As a candidate, Harry Rilling stated he would let the case “run its course,” yet now barely seven months into his term, the case is reported as near settlement. Hiding behind a corporation counsel who will argue whatever side of a case he is paid to, the mayor has moved to “settle” the case, rather than defending the interests of our city. We might support a settlement that did limit the height and bulk of the proposed structure, limited the parking onsite, and ensured safe traffic on Fillow and North Taylor, but only if such a settlement also included an admission that the city did nothing wrong and a reparation payment from the mosque for the city’s fees and expenses. But such a settlement seems doubtful.
More than likely, Mayor Rilling’s settlement will consist of just the opposite. The mosque will be built largely as it was initially proposed, and the city will be the one apologizing. This is inappropriate, and sets the stage for further disaster. What group wouldn’t want to submit an outrageously inappropriate application and then find a contingency lawyer to get them a settlement and a payday?
This mosque may or may not get built, but the city will now certainly be an attractive target for spurious lawsuits by the dozen. Beyond the financial effects of that precedent, which will affect us all, no doubt, the preservation and protection of our neighborhoods and citizens will now not be sacrosanct. If the mayor won’t stand behind Kendall and West Norwalk, how are we to believe he will ever protect and preserve Rowayton, Cranbury or East Norwalk.
The city’s processes worked. There was no religious bias, and the case needs to be defended. If a modification of the plan were to be submitted, or an appeal made on the basis of zoning issues rather than unsupportable claims of racism, the process would deal with those eventualities. Dropping the city’s defense and yielding to legal pressure for the mere sake of a settlement at the expense of our neighborhoods is not good governance and is beyond belief and beyond the pale.
Executive Committee, RTC
Chairman, Republican Town Committee