Norwalk political notes: P&Z Commission develops; group presses legislature to reform property taxes

A 2018 Planning Commission capital budget discussion in City Hall; the new Planning and Zoning Commission will have less to do with that process. (From left, Planning Commissioners Fran DiMeglio (chairwoman), Tammy Langalis, Brian Baxendale and David Davidson.)

NORWALK, Conn. — Some Norwalk political developments for you:

  • Rilling names new P&Z panel
  • New Redevelopment Commissioner; NHA and Fair Housing appointments
  • Knopp involved in State group seeking property tax reform

P&Z members announced

The Common Council voted in September to merge the Planning Commission with the Zoning Commission. On Tuesday, the Council will vote on members of the new panel, set to begin Jan. 11. Mayor Harry Rilling has appointed a mix of veterans from the previous (split) Commissions and three new faces.

The new Commission will feature nine regular members and three alternates. Tuesday’s agenda doesn’t specify who is what filling what role.

From the Planning Commission

  • Frances Dimeglio (currently Planning Commission chairwoman)
  • Brian Baxendale
  • Steve Ferguson
  • Tammy Langalis
  • Michael Mushak


From the Zoning Commission

  • Louis Schulman (currently Zoning Commission chairman)
  • Richard Roina
  • Galen Wells
  • Nick Kantor



  • Darius Williams
  • Jacquen Jordan-Byron
  • Hector Pachas


The agenda originally named 13 appointments. Marcela Sapone, a current Zoning Commissioner, was dropped in a revised agenda released Monday.

Jordan-Byron and Williams are on the Democratic Town Committee, Jordan-Byron as vice chair and Williams as corresponding secretary. Pachas is a Greater Norwalk Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee member.

Jordan-Byron’s resume describes her as an experienced professional with excellent people skills. She worked as a senior accounting clerk for Charter Brokerage from 2000 to 2018.

Williams is an Oak Hills Park Authority member. He’s a student at the University of Connecticut and a freelance marketing and branding consultant, according to her resume.

Pachas is an entrepreneur and a photographer, according to his resume. He was developer/production manager and technology director for Abacus Analytics from 2004 to 2017 and a regional supervisor assistant for Telefonica in Peru from 1995 to 2000.



Not on the Planning Commission anymore, but…

Also on the Council agenda are these appointments:

  • Mary Peniston to the Redevelopment Agency
  • Angela Wassuna to the Norwalk Housing Authority
  • Alexandra Sollazo to the Fair Housing Authority


Peniston has been serving on the Planning Commission and is Child First National Program director. She fills a vacant Redevelopment seat.

Wassuna is vice president for emerging markets policy at Pfizer and has served as consultant to the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and the Department for International Development, UK (DFID), according to her resume.

Sollazo is a Family and Children’s Agency program manager for supportive housing, according to her resume.



Knopp involved in State group seeking property tax reform

A coalition of current and former elected and fiscal officials have presented the General Assembly and Lamont administration a plan to “overhaul Connecticut’s inefficient and inequitable property tax system,” a news release said.

Former Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp is part of the coalition, which is seeking action in next year’s legislative session.

The news release explains:

“‘Connecticut Property Taxes:  Opportunity for Change,’ describes the state’s longstanding fiscal dependence on the property tax as ‘a system that undermines economic growth, and is regressive, unfair and economically inefficient.’ Written by the Property Tax Working Group as a project of 1000 Friends of Connecticut, a nonprofit advocacy organization, it states that ‘Connecticut has a rare opportunity, due to its positive budget situation, to correct the greatest inadequacy and inequity in our state’s tax structure: the longstanding over-reliance on the local property tax.’

“The 29-page report and analysis proposes that a property tax reduction should be focused on ‘correcting the serious flaws associated with local property taxes,’ which now make up nearly half – 41.9% – of the total tax burden for Connecticut residents. It also indicates that Connecticut relies on the property tax to fund government services, ‘to a far higher degree than most states,’ pointing out that:

  • “Municipalities in Connecticut realize an average of 73.4% of their revenues from the local property tax.
  • “As a percentage of state-local revenue, property tax revenue is the third highest – 25.4% – in the nation, substantially higher than the national average of 16.6%.”


The report proposes “specific revisions to state statutes and outlines a ‘Framework for Property Tax Reform’ described as ‘achievable change,’” the news release states, outlining on six primary areas for action:

  1. “Fixing the structural vertical and horizontal inequity in the property tax system;
  2. “Closing the needs-capacity gap between non-educational service needs and the capacity to fund them;
  3. “Closing the cost-capacity gap for education;
  4. “Choosing real change, with long-term benefits – NOT gimmicks;
  5. “Encouraging regional and collaborative solutions for the delivery and coordination of state and local services; and
  6. “Providing policymakers with up-to-date facts and independent analyses.”


The report’s authors say that, “As long as towns must raise the bulk of their revenue using property taxes, they are discouraged from thinking beyond their borders when making decisions. This discourages regional solutions that would protect the environment, improve the economy or reduce duplicative services.”

They add that “over-reliance on property taxes fosters fragmentation in decisions forcing Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns to compete with one another” in ways that are fiscally counterproductive and have adverse implications on and beyond the bottom line.

“Our Working Group has been encouraged that both the Lamont administration and the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly have been promoting property tax reform as a major priority for the new session next year,” Knopp, a member of the Property Tax Working Group, is quoted as saying. “Our paper makes the case for making significant change to rebalance the property tax in Connecticut’s revenue structure and thereby lift the heavy burden that the property tax imposes on taxpayers, municipalities and our state’s economy. Now is the time to move forward on this critical issue.”

PTax White Paper Dec 2021 Final as Sent to Press


4 responses to “Norwalk political notes: P&Z Commission develops; group presses legislature to reform property taxes”

  1. John O’Neill

    Great Lineup for the Planning and Zoning…Some City Hall regulars who might be able to help me with a question I have:
    In 2014 Mayor Rilling promised that Norwalk Zoning laws would be modified so that we wouldn’t have a repeat of the Fillow Street Mosque debacle. Can someone in the above story (We know many of you will be reading this today) tell us
    1) Who specifically was put in charge of modifying the zoning regulations after that promise was made
    2) What modifications were made so that debacle couldn’t happen again?

    Seems like a simple request — My hope is it wasn’t the same person who was put in charge of US Border Crisis.

  2. Mack

    The person put in charge by President Biden to handle the border crisis is of course his infamous Vice President, Kamala Harris. The successor to the presidency should anything happen to Joe Brandon. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever, ever imagine that it would get this bad.

  3. DryAsABone

    Mack…you are posting about P&Z? I do not think so. Your rant belongs in Rumble.
    That said, Ms. Harris was given an impossible task to address an issue that goes back many decades.
    Trump played games with the immigration topic and you clearly bought into his tripe. While I wish her well, she will fail. Proof? The announced $1.2 billion commitment from MSFT,Pepsi and a couple of other companies to invest in Central America with a focus on Guatemala. That is a fine effort BUT over $20 BILLION is sent back home by Guatemalans working here. The incentives are doomed to fail but it is a step in the right direction, and she took it.

  4. Piberman

    Every once in a while we see pressures to enable CT towns and cities to raise funds through a local income tax in addition to levying property and auto taxes. Since CT, with its embarrassing decade long stagnant economy has 3rd highest tax burden in the nation (Tax Foundation) we surely know what happens when cities and states have access to local income taxes.

    CT’s economy will continue stagnating as will our population and employment levels. And our children will continue to exit CT upon graduation seeking better prospects elsewhere. The old aphorism “the power to tax is the power to destroy” rings true in CT.

    Norwalk pays its Supt $300k + reportedly tops in CT. Our surrounding towns pay considerably less. Yet have among the best performing public schools in the nation.
    Maybe the problem is securing better management, not always raising taxes.

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