Updated, 5:56 a.m.: Copy edits
NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk officials rejected Thursday a real estate broker’s claim that he has been singled out for Zoning enforcement.
Jason Milligan, who is being sued by the City of Norwalk for purchasing properties in the Wall Street area without required approvals, made the charge of unfair treatment on Thursday.
“The city of Norwalk is treating me differently than everyone else. They are going out of their way to block my progress,” Milligan wrote Thursday afternoon. Milligan received a Zoning citation from Deputy Zoning Inspector John Hayducky, stating that one of the properties purchased will be subject to a $150 a day fine if the issues continue.
A motor vehicle repair facility is being operated out of 97 Wall St. in violation of City code, Hayducky wrote in the notice of Zoning violations, dated Aug. 30. The notice explains that the shop is not allowed in the Central Business Design District sub-area A and must immediately cease operations, or proof of existing permits must be provided within 15 days.
Wall Street Opportunity Fund, a limited liability company managed by Milligan, bought 97 Wall St. in May from Richard Olson of POKO Partners, along with four other properties in the area that were expected to become part of POKO’s Wall Street Place development. Olson and Milligan are being sued by Norwalk and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency because they transferred the property without Redevelopment Agency approval. The lawsuit claims the transfer violated the Land Disposition Agreement for the properties.
“I know for a fact that this particular building has been an auto repair business since at least 2001, and it may have been an auto repair place for decades before that. I have not researched,” Milligan wrote Thursday afternoon. “It is just despicable that they are singling me out.”
Norwalk Planning and Zoning Director Kleppin, in a late afternoon email to NancyOnNorwalk, said:
“I received an anonymous phone message two weeks ago from someone, and I am positive it wasn’t Mario, telling me there was an illegal autobody operation, including painting, at the end of Wall Street. Staff inspected and confirmed that there was auto repair occurring. With that we sent the Notice of Violation dated 8/30/18.
“For the record, we previously received a complaint about this address in May, 2017 (attached) which I believe is before ‘Wall Street Opportunity Fund’ became the owner of the property. As you can see from that complaint, they made complaints about several different locations. Often, this is a competitor. We have no records of autobody as an approved use at that location. There are requirements that they obtain a permit from the state (http://www.ct.gov/dmv/lib/dmv/K-7.pdf) which requires a local sign-off. Again, we have no record of a permit for that location. Perhaps as Jason indicated they have been operating for several years, but perhaps, they are doing so illegally. In addition, I do not see the business, Nutech Auto and Marine, listed on the CT Dealers & Repairers License List (http://www.ct.gov/dmv/lib/dmv/d_r_list.pdf).”
Kleppin included a citation issued by Hayducky on May 18, 2017, to ILSR, a POKO company that owned 97 Wall St. The citation lists the same section of municipal code and states that an auto repair shop was operating there without approvals.
Milligan said late Thursday that NuTech is not the business in the shop, and that he did not know that ILSR/POKO had been cited. He wrote:
“Ok. So over 1 year ago they issued that notice and did nothing about it??
“There has been auto repair at that location for decades. The records for this section of town are spotty. The deeds are weird. Lot’s of strange addresses, right of ways etc.
“Rest assured that we will remedy the situation. We inherited this tenant.”
“I am not trying to block anybody’s progress,” Mayor Harry Rilling said in a Thursday afternoon phone call with NancyOnNorwalk. “I didn’t even know. What kind of Zoning violation was he given?” Rilling said in the same call that he would have to talk with Kleppin.
“Honestly, I have been discussing POKO, but I haven’t discussed Jason Milligan or anything about Jason Milligan,” Rilling said. “I expect everything that happens to be done in the same manner that anybody else would be treated, and within the confines of our Zoning regulations and the law.”
“With regard to this zoning violation matter, no one from the Zoning Department contacted me regarding it,” Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola wrote in an email, shortly thereafter. “The first notice I was given regarding this matter was by your emails today.”
The auto repair business is located in the rear of 97 Wall St., in what is called “51 Isaac St.” in a sign posted at the dead end of Isaac Street. A sign over the shop’s door identifies the business as NuTech Auto and Marine.
A man working in the shop, which had at least four cars in it, referred NancyOnNorwalk to “Fredy,” the owner of the business, providing his phone number.
Fredy said he had been operating the auto shop there for seven years and that there had been an auto shop there before, for 10-15 years, as far as he knew. He works on his own cars, he said.