NORWALK, Conn. – A Norwalk zoning commissioner who was asked to leave a Common Council committee meeting Tuesday evening went out the door with the words, “There is something really fishy going on here.”
Zoning Commissioner Mike Mushak interrupted discussion at the Public Works Committee meeting to assert that Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord had lied. Committee Chairman David McCarthy at first told him to “write a letter.” Mushak replied, “There is something going on here that is very serious,” as he asserted that a public record had been altered. The back and forth continued until Mushak left.
The issue stemmed from an ongoing discussion about fixing Norwalk’s sidewalks. An unmentioned part of the conversation, alluded to without naming specifics, was a claim filed against the city last month by Dry Hill Road resident Robert Celli, who asserts that the sidewalk in front of his property has been damaged and should be repaired.
Dry Hill Road was recently paved in a project that began last fall and ended this spring, according to Alvord. Celli is not the only resident who is puzzled; Sharon Meinck told NancyOnNorwalk last week that she did not understand the inconvenience forced upon residents in the lengthy process any more than she could understand the fact that the sidewalk in front of her home is concrete up to the middle of her yard, and asphalt to the driveway.
Alvord explained last month that the city is obligated to put in concrete in the “urban zone,” which is defined by census tracts. Less expensive asphalt can be used in the suburban zone, he said. Meinck’s house is in both zones, apparently.
Tuesday night, Alvord said the urban zone is set up by the Planning and Zoning Department.
Not true, said Mushak, who produced an urban zone map he said he had gotten from P&Z.
“This is from (DPW Engineer) Dick Linnartz, not from Planning and Zoning,” Mushak said, as McCarthy informed him he was out of order. “I’m sorry but this is jerrymandered on Dry Hill because somebody on Dry Hill complained.”
This is shown at 2:45 in the video above.
After the meeting Mushak explained the issue to NancyOnNorwalk. He said he asked Assistant Planning and Zoning Director Mike Wrinn to explain the urban core. Wrinn said it coincided with the First and Second Taxing Districts.
“I said ‘Can you confirm that with DPW?’ Wrinn contacted DPW and then this map appeared,” Mushak said.
A notation on the map says it was revised in January. Another notation says, “Classification revised 2/2014.”
The urban zone map does not coincide with the taxing district lines.
“It makes no sense. These two maps do not match up,” Mushak said. “… I want to know the rationale of who determined the classification.”
Wrinn told him the map came from Linnartz, he said.
“Why does Hal keep saying this was determined by Planning and Zoning when Planning and Zoning had no idea what I was talking about when I asked for the urban core map?” Mushak asked. “They had to go back to the Public Works Department. Why is Hal saying this is Planning and Zoning? And then this map appears from DPW, not from Planning and Zoning. And it cuts off three blocks of Dry Hill Road.”
Correction, 11:30 a.m., Robert Celli not Roger Celli