Norwalk bees just the beginning of interesting challenges

By Bruce Kimmel

Councilman, District D

NORWALK, Conn. – Most of what the public knows about the Norwalk Common Council is based on media reports of meetings. What remain unnoticed and generally not covered by the media are the problems council members are asked to solve by the folks they represent. In many ways, these issues are more interesting and frustrating than the more publicized ones.

Two recent constituent issues I’ve been involved with had to do with animals. The first, which was about beekeeping, did receive media coverage. The problem was the number of hives in a densely populated area and the proximity of the hives to neighbors and the street. I received all kinds of information from several irate neighbors, including pictures of swarming honeybees on decks and drainpipes. I consulted another council member who raises bees. We contacted the city’s zoning commission and it did an excellent job researching the issue and came up with some regulations that set limits on hives, but (unfortunately) grandfathered the property that had triggered the review.

The other animal issue is complicated. Suffice to say that it includes a fox, chickens, a rooster, rats, squirrels, birds, a swimming pool destroyed by rats, a rather porous fence and lots of noise. There are other aspects of this problem that are better left unmentioned. What I found interesting about this issue is the response I received from city officials after notifying them of the multi-faceted problem – the mayor, zoning officials (current and former), the health, law, police, and buildings departments all pitched in and we are currently working toward resolution of the problem.

Soon after the 2011 election, I received a call about a noise complaint. Seems a resident had rented all types of large excavating equipment and was working seven days a week, including holidays, to rework a rather large plot of land. I visited the property, talked to several people and soon realized there was indeed a lot of equipment and a lot of noise. But I also learned that renting and moving backhoes and bulldozers cost a pretty penny and the quicker the project was finished, the less the cost to the new homeowner.

I took the issue to the council’s ordinance committee, and we quickly determined that the city’s noise ordinance was not being violated; we also could see that the ordinance needed to be updated, which we began to do (it does not deal with heavy machinery in residential neighborhoods). Meanwhile, the homeowner finished and returned all the equipment. I stopped receiving complaints.

There was another land use issue that had to do with new construction, excavation, and land fill (both the amount and content), the protection of upland slopes, gas lines, soil erosion, tree removal and fencing, as well as an ordinance that had a perceived loophole. Two council members and I met with some residents who showed us pictures of what had happened; essentially, a hill had been transformed from a wooded area into a mess, with large logs sticking out of the ground (some of the illegal fill).

Unfortunately, the issue has not been completely resolved and the ordinance has not been changed, although there has been a small change in the permitting process. The city, I’ve been told, is still trying to solve this problem to the satisfaction of neighbors.

Flooding issues can be heartbreaking; the cost to homeowners is often substantial, and solutions can be elusive and expensive. I received a call from a family near Ponus Avenue about their house being repeatedly flooded in recent years. I visited, saw the damage and all the repairs they had done to their home, as well as the drains they had added to their driveway. They said the city had reconfigured a road in a manner that created their predicament. But when I called the public works department, I was told that they had already sent workers to check the problem and they disagreed with the residents.

This went on for several weeks; city engineers saying one thing, the homeowners saying another. Then all was quiet for a while. About a month later, I received an email from the property owners. Two city workers had discovered several large logs in the middle of a stream quite a distance from the house; they removed the logs, problem solved.

You win some, you lose some. Sometimes it’s not clear what happened. Nonetheless, there is nothing more rewarding than working with constituents to solve problems.

Bruce Kimmel


One response to “Norwalk bees just the beginning of interesting challenges”

  1. Joanne Romano

    Bruce, Glad to see you have gotten somewhere on the 2nd issue, since last October until most recently I was working with the neighbors of the nightmare and asked that since I am no longer an elected official I suggested they contact one or more of the current council members. This is an unfortunate situation which seems to never go away. After some 30-50 e-mails, phone calls back and forth with the city and the neighbors, I am glad to hear that maybe soon the neighbors can enjoy the homes they own and the neighborhood they chose to live. Glad to see someone is helping them.

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments