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Norwalk zoning commissioner proposes changing regulations in wake of BJ’s withdrawal

NORWALK, Conn. – A windmill-tilting zoning commissioner is looking into changing the regulations for Norwalk’s Main Avenue to outlaw big box stores — the likes of BJ’s Wholesale Club — in favor of residential complexes.

The request by Mike Mushak topped a fiery 17-minute finale to a sedate public hearing Thursday night that had been expected to be quite a show. Several people showed up for what was planned to be a hearing on the BJ’s application only to read signs on City Hall’s doors proclaiming the application had been withdrawn. Four or five members of the public stayed to wait as commissioners talked about a proposed addition to Rowayton Elementary School before moving on to the topic that they had come for – a proposal to build a two-story plumbing supply store on Westport Avenue.

Insiders enjoyed watching that, as the neighbors of the store succeeded in getting a few minor alterations on the proposal, including a higher fence in the back, before it was approved. Commissioners delayed approving the school plans as some conservation paperwork had not been filed yet.

Then it was on to an argument about civility and Mushak’s ever-persistent drumbeat about studies paid for by the city of Norwalk that are ignored by the Zoning Commission.

Part A: Republican Chairwoman Emily Wilson snubbed Democratic Commissioner Nate Sumpter. Mushak and Sumpter complained; Wilson said it was her decision and she was not being uncivil.

Wilson had appointed a nominating committee to nominate commissioners to be the next chairman and committee leaders.

Sumpter, who has been serving on the commission for more than three years, indicated that he would like to be on the committee, and Wilson looked at him. She said nothing back and announced that she was putting long-term commissioners Joe Santo and Jill Jacobsen on the committee along with newcomer Linda Kruk, who was appointed in July.

To be fair, Sumpter was sitting at the far end of a long table on the stage of the cavernous Concert Hall, and commissioners were sharing microphones so it was hard to hear at times. But as Wilson was announcing her choices, Mushak said into a microphone, “Nate wants to be on it.”

She did not budge.

Mushak, a member of the Democratic Town Committee, said that, while he has nothing against Kruk, Sumpter is a dedicated volunteer who deserved consideration.

“The nominating committee should have reflected experienced people who understand the dynamics of the commission for the important chair position,” he said. “Not a brand new commissioner who doesn’t understand the dynamics of who works well and who doesn’t.”

“I think that’s one of the reasons you have people with experience and a breath of fresh air,” Wilson said. “… I think having both views is a good thing.”

“I think you heard Nate Sumpter and ignored him,” Mushak said.

“I very much apologize. I didn’t,” said Wilson, who is running to be a District E Common Councilwoman.

Sumpter called Wilson’s behavior disgraceful and said she was being uncivil.

“I have not been uncivil to you ever,” Wilson said.

Mushak shot back, “No, you just don’t put things on the agenda and then you don’t give a good answer for why you didn’t do it.”

Later, Sumpter commented, “I can make my nominations from the floor,” meaning that Wilson couldn’t stop him from making his opinion known despite his lack of a committee seat.

On to Part B: The $500,000 Norwalk Transportation Management Plan and the 2006 Westport-North Main Corridor Study.

Mushak had been pushing for an independent review of the traffic study done for BJ’s. Wilson had refused to put it to a vote.

“By not putting that on the agenda when I asked for it, and I had repeatedly asked for it many times in emails, you simply did not allow a healthy discussion on the record by this commission as to why or why not a peer review, which would have protected the health and safety of an entire section of this city,” Mushak said. “By the way, public works does not do a full peer review as an independent study would do it. They actually admitted, the engineers from public works, they do not punch the numbers of traffic studies. They don’t confirm all the numbers, make sure they work. That’s what an independent traffic study would have done.”

Ignoring his request was a lack of civility, he said. The opposition to the BJ’s application formed because it appeared the commission was not doing its due diligence, he said.

Wilson reminded Mushak that Corporation Counsel Bob Maslan had spent three hours at a plan review committee, answering about 40 minutes of questions from Mushak about why recommendations in the two expensive studies were being ignored for zoning purposes.

They aren’t binding unless they become regulations, Maslan had said. They become regulations when the Zoning Commission votes to make them regulations, Maslan had said.

Mushak said he wanted the commission to consider making a segment from the Westport-North Main Corridor Study – the recommendation to limit retail stores to 10,000 square feet on Main Avenue – into a regulation.

Santo said that was because Mushak was against the BJ’s application.

Mushak reminded Santo that he had never said he was against the BJ’s application.

“Whatever you do to change the zone on Main Street is also going to affect future applications,” Santo said. “Whatever you propose if we end up adopting – are you proposing this because in case BJs may reapply?”

“I am proposing this because (of) the $75,000 study done by Vollmer, which is now Stantec, which is one of the top transportation firms in the world. They happen to be located in Connecticut and Norwalk uses them a lot. A firm of planning professionals studied Main Avenue in 2006. They issued a study. The study said with all of the limitations on this stretch of the road they recommended a maximum 10,000-square-foot retail footprint. They highly recommended residential because residential doesn’t have the same traffic concerns,” Mushak said.

Mushak said he was willing to sit with staff and draft a proposed zoning change.

After the meeting, Mushak said the proposed zoning language is in the study. All you have to do is copy it, he said.

Comments

29 responses to “Norwalk zoning commissioner proposes changing regulations in wake of BJ’s withdrawal”

  1. Herb Eaversmels

    I would like to understand why the City pays for a traffic study and then chooses to ignore it? Is it because City Hall doesn’t like the answer? The next time the City wants to spend $500,000 on a traffic study, why don’t we just skip it and use the money to buy lottery tickets.

  2. M Allen

    Now we’re going to start talking residential on Main Avenue? What a joke. So then, after building some residential and suckering those poor people into living on a heavily-travelled commercial artery, we can listen to them gripe when a 10,000 sqare foot Denny’s wants to drop shop. Are we completely out of our minds?

  3. M Allen

    And at this point, does anyone care if Mike Mushak accuses one of his fellow commissioners as being “uncivil”? Civil appears to be a view when it suits him and plays into his party’s handbook of attack this administration on civility. Given the election-year circumstances, Mike has made it abundantly clear that civility isn’t his plan. Unless he thinks he can say what he wants in public and then expect civility to rule the day when he is sitting at the table. Sorry Mike. It doesn’t work that way. I recognize tensions are high and its an election year and you’ve pulled out all the stops to be vocal this time, as opposed to the last time when apparently you made a deal to keep your seat. But civility is not only when you choose to use it. Its an everyday thing is you want it in return.

  4. Don’t Panic

    I was surprised to find that committee members are appointed by the chair and not voted upon by the commissioners.
    .

  5. Mike Mushak

    M Allen, I am trying to what’s best for the city as a volunteer, and follow our taxpayer-funded expensive professional studies which are routinely ignored by GOP leadership and city staff.
    .

    I would most definitely trust consultants who are licensed professionals including certified planners (we have none in the P and Z Department) who use facts and figures to support their policy recommendations, over entrenched bureacrats and party hacks who have made decades of bad planning decisions in Norwalk. Just look around. We are held up now by planning professionals as an example around the state on how NOT to plan a city. Proud of that? For waht we pay in taxes? It is absurd how broken our zoning code is and how dysfunctional and politicized our planning process has become.
    .
    We potentially had a retail use TEN TIMES larger than what our Master Plan recommended on Main Avenue, and one of the facts that would have come out in a hearing if it happened was that there are potentially tens of millions of roadway improvements involving dramatic widening at every intersection along Main Avenue involving eminent domain, that would have been necessary for taxpayers to pay for to handle the extra traffic from BJ’s, NOT paid for by the applicant, that were recommended in the 2006 Westport-North-Main study on pages 79, 80, and 81 under similar conditions of traffic increases that BJ’s would have approached.
    .
    Unless we take a holistic long-range view of what the potential costs and impacts would have been for such a large project, including an independent traffic study that the $500 Transportation Plan recommended (regardless of whether it was in our regulations or not, a GOP splitting hairs argument that was appalling in its disregard for Norwalk residents and businesses), than we may have ended up with a gridlock situation much worse than on CT Avenue, which affects not only the businesses that are there, but all the residences in surrounding communities including West Norwalk and Falx Hill, that take the overflow and have become busy and dangerous shortcuts.

    If you want to criticize me for taking a long range view of these impacts, go right ahead. Since our staff and most of the GOP Commissioners like Emily Wilson appointed by Moccia seemed to care less about doing our due diligence to measure TOTAL impacts of the BJ’s project by widening the applicant’s traffic study and having independent peer review as the experts taxpayers paid for recommended, I will assert myself as necessary to bring sanity to our serious planning decisions that have lasting impacts on quality of life and property values for all of us.
    .
    Just ask the folks on West Norwalk Road how they felt about what happened to their quiet back country lifestyle and their property values after the Esposito-era big box explosion on CT Ave, when the population of New Canaan basically speeds past their homes every day, based on rezoning decisions in the late 80’s when the GOP dismantled previous zoning that encouraged mixed use on CT Ave.
    .
    This big box heaven on CT Ave. without even adequate sidewalks, and which creates lengthy traffic jams filled with out of town cars, is assessed much lower than higher quality development on such valuable land, negatively affecting our tax base. This nightmare was promoted by none other than Moccia’s buddy Joe Santo who is STILL on the Commission pushing for unrelentless traffic-generating retail everywhere it fits. You can call me the counterpoint to these forces if you will. So keep criticizing me all you want M Allen. In the long run, you may be thanking me someday for bringing sanity and professionalism back to our planning decisions.

  6. M Allen

    Mike, I don’t criticize your logic when it comes to certain details. We’d probably find room to agree and disagree on various topics. In fact, I found myself on the same side over this BJ’s/Main Ave project. That won’t extend to BJ’s in another location, but… It’s your tactics that I sometimes question. You talk civility and then interact with your fellow commissioners in a way that wouldn’t be considered exactly civil, and in a very public way. I imagine it is frustrating for all parties involved, especially for those where the outcomes don’t go the way you had hoped. But broadsides railing against incivility and impropriety, or the innuendo of impropriety (re: the Mayor putting pressure on individuals), probably won’t earn you much goodwill in working together. Maybe there is no issue here. Maybe I see things differently. Perhaps the people that back you and your statements are happy to have an attack dog in favor of their interests. But the more and more I see, the more I believe the attack dog is being ignored by his colleagues and I just don’t see how that will ever help your cause. I’m all for a long-range view, but if you are destroying your ability to act in the here and now, I’m not sure what that has won you. You’re a bright guy with a background that can help. But even the brightest of us get pushed aside if we can’t play well with others.
    .
    For the record, the addition of box stores does not preclude other projects from occurring. Not unless you’re saying that we’re running out of space and the retailers are scooping it up ahead of other potential developers. The current zoning is pretty open to higher-value projects yet they aren’t lining up. Where are these mysterious projects that are the alternatives to retailers? Its the mantra of the anti-retailer crowd, yet nobody can point to anything other than hypotheticals. “Oh no, we’re becoming the big box city of Fairfield County. Why don’t we get 10 more Diageos instead of another retailer?” Are we just looking for zoning to lock out retailers hoping that one day, some day, over some rainbow, that higher-value projects will just show up? Where are these alternatives? They can move in tomorrow with little to no opposition. Where are they?

  7. Mike Mushak

    M Allen, I believe you would harbor a similar attitude I now have towards this crowd if you witnessed the style of governance under the GOP leadership that I have over the last few years, under Joe Santo and Emily Wilson (Lightfield was fair to everyone, strong-willed no doubt, but effective too). I have seen studies ignored, the Master Plan ignored, staff told by the Chair Santo (at the time)to ignore my requests to change the minutes to reflect actual conversations(an ethical violation not worth pursuing with the hobbled ethics commission under Moccia we have), been told “we have no money” to hire experts I recommended even though we raised our fines years ago to do just that and which should have raised over $100,000 by now (where did that go?), by-laws ignored (staff is supposed to produce monthly financial statements that we never see, and answer questions of commissioners which they never do,at least in my case, interfering with our decisions which is a serious violation of the land-use process and the law).
    .
    I’ll spare you the rest, which goes on, but I am not the only one who holds these opinions about our dysfunctional planning process, overseen by Mayor Moccia who has been reliable in making sure multiple bad planning decisions have been made by the city.
    .
    I have tried to work with this group on many occasions, but the truth is, they basically dopn’t like me because I ask too many questions, as Santo has been very clear about on many occasions, as if asking questions of applicants is somehow a bad thing. This is also evidenced by the struggle I had to stay on the Commission two years ago when Santo went to the Mayor and didn’t want me on, after the mayor had promised me he would re-appoint me. That was when I agreed to the deal with the mayor, which he offered to me to stay on (which I have been transparent about since it happened),which was to not have a fundraiser at my house for his opponent that year, Andy Garfunkel. I could have made no deal and not been reappointed, and the mayor most likely would have had another yes-man or yes-woman in my place, someone he could control, denying me the urge to offer my talents on the zoning commission which I enjoy doing as it involves many issues of my professional career. I wasnt proud of that deal which was not my idea, but was necessary to continue my volunteer work for the city. Think what you will about that.

    To your other point about retail locations, I have no problem with big box stores being in locations that can handle them, as the 2006 WNM Study I keep referring to suggests, and which I suggested we begin to implement last night after 5 years when staff and teh ZC leadership decided it was not a priority.
    .
    What happened on CT Ave in the late 80’s 90’s is water under the bridge now,but the city sold out at that time to big box exclusively when there were plenty of developers around and market studies supporting residential and office on that stretch. It would have been a much healthier mix at this time if the Esposito Administration hadn’t decided to get rid of all of Collins’ appointments in a restructuring of teh P and Z Department into 2 commissions,putting Greene in charge (he’s still there 25 years later, although he actually started with the city in 78 with no prior experience), and rezoned Ct Ave by limiting heights to stop all large scale residential and office and concentrate on traffic-generating retail only.
    .

    Not a smart move in hindsight, but thats what happened, a missed opportunity to do it right, and we have made so many other tragic planning mistakes over the years since, which is why Wall Street and SoNo are still struggling when they should have been booming all along considering the assets we have that are underutilized and not marketed well. In other words, we need an overhaul of our obsolete zoning code and P and Z Department, but no one has the courage to begin that process, and I am left arguing with reactionary folks who teh mayor has put on the ZC who only seem to want to maintain the entrenched mediocrity and incompetence of the status quo, as bad as that is.
    .
    My words are harsh sometimes, but just put yourself in my shoes and imagine how you would react to how dysfunctional and badly planned Norwalk has become. I am tilting at windmills as NON likes to say, but I do think I am finally making a difference, annoying as I am sometimes!

  8. M Allen

    I agree, Wall Street could be so much more than what it is. It could be a focal point of this city with the river that runs through it and that goes ways beyond anything POKO might ever remotely get to. POKO is a stopgap compared to what should be happening “downtown”. Unfortunatley, the downtown area was left to die with decisions made decades ago that focused the city’s efforts on gentrifying “Historic” South Norwalk. Maybe I’m wrong since I was a kid at the time, but Wall Street and downtown Norwalk were allowed to die a slow death of neglect as resources were focused elsewhere (SoNo). My recollection of the 80’s was that everything was focused on SoNo, SoNo, SoNo. Probably because it was crime-ridden and someone thought bringing in business would push out the crime. Mission Not Accomplished. I’m not sure where the idea originated or why it happened the way it did, and I’m not even sure it matters anymore. At some point we just need to move on and worry more about fixing it than assigning blame to one party or another. Norwalk has become what it is, not because of one man or one party. It has taken a long time and multiple administrations to get where we are.
    .
    There are many things we could do and many things we could wish for. But in my view, creating a garden-like, walkable utopia takes a backseat to just making things better than what we have. I think a lot of people lose sight of what is simply better as they chase what may be ideal, and in the process we end up having neither. I’m not entirely convinced our zoning issues are what is holding back high-value development. There are deeper-rooted issues to their avoidance that need to be first acknowledged and then addressed. Yet our biggest fights are over symptoms like zoning. I love having vision, but vision doesn’t just encompass zoning or how we wish we could re-invent this city. We can zone for utopia all we like, but in the end, that doesn’t get investors to pony up millions of dollars and Choose Norwalk.

  9. EveT

    Trying to get back to the topic of the article: “They aren’t binding unless they become regulations …. They become regulations when the Zoning Commission votes to make them regulations” …. “Mushak said he wanted the commission to consider making a segment from the Westport-North Main Corridor Study – the recommendation to limit retail stores to 10,000 square feet on Main Avenue – into a regulation.”

    I would vote for that. Thank you, Mr. Mushak, for proposing this.

    It is beyond sad that our appointed boards and commissions have to have acrimonious arguments time and time again. No wonder more smart, talented Norwalk residents don’t step up to volunteer to be involved in city government.

  10. Norwalk Spectator

    “If you want to criticize me for taking a long range view of these impacts, go right ahead. Since our staff and most of the GOP Commissioners like Emily Wilson appointed by Moccia seemed to care less about doing our due diligence to measure TOTAL impacts of the BJ’s project by widening the applicant’s traffic study and having independent peer review as the experts taxpayers paid for recommended, I will assert myself as necessary to bring sanity to our serious planning decisions that have lasting impacts on quality of life and property values for all of us.”
    .
    Can we PLEASE get past the Democratic/Republican paradigm mudslinging and talk about what’s good for Norwalk? Mayors from both sides of the political aisle have done both positive and negative things for Norwalk.
    .
    If political alignment is so critical, may I point out that Atty. Zullo is a Democrat as is former Mayor Bill Collins. Collins was a principal player in the “revitalization” of South Norwalk, which pushed many lower income families out of the area. There’s actually a documentary on that whole transformation.
    .
    And here’s a news flash….the reason that people join political parties is usually because the other party members have the same general ideas on what the role of government should be.
    .
    However, once someone joins a political party, it does not mean they have become a puppet. An excellent example of that was the fact that a former Democratic mayor of Norwalk was the attorney presenting the application for BJ’s and a Norwalk Democrat was leading the opposition.
    .
    There are Republicans and independents in Norwalk who also opposed BJ’s at that location, just like there were people in both parties along with independents who opposed the mosque on Fillow Street based on the location. However, after reading all the snide comments and blame placing aimed the Republicans, as a non-Democrat, I am not very motivated to voice my support for the opposition. And your response may be saying, “Fine, we don’t need you anyway.” And that’s cool, too. Just remember, although I’m only one voice, there’s no way to tell if I’m speaking only for myself or for many others.
    .
    What was done in the past, the decision that were made, are in the past. That includes the good, the bad and the indifferent. And here we are. How about doing a radical thing?? Why don’t we work towards correcting the problem and not blame placing? Why not put political parties aside and concentrate on finding a solution. There’s not a doubt in my mind that the property will be developed. The unanswered question is how. The Planning and Zoning Commission should be open to all suggestions, regardless of political alignment. The goal here, is as I said in the beginning, what is best for Norwalk.

  11. Piberman

    These discussions illustrate why few Norwalkers have confidence that the current P&Z Commissioners and the current set of zoning regulations. Isn’t possible that our Mayor and Common Council members step in and rectify a highly disfunctional Commission ? Or do they think no one is watching ? Why isn’t possible to have a P&Z Commission that makes us proud ? Not one widely viewed as an embarrassment. Or is it the case that our Mayor and Common Council members hold the P&Z in high esteem ?

  12. Daniel

    Mike,

    As a member of the public who would have been affected ( quite literally directly ) by the BJs project that is unreasonably large by this location, what can we do in order to help you turn some of those recommendations in the Master Plan into regulations so that we don’t find ourselves in this position yet again in the future?

  13. M Allen

    @Daniel – Not trying to answer for Mike here, but do you really want to know how to get those recommendations into the Master Plan? Get the people who vote on it to agree those changes should be implemented. I would venture to guess that in spite of the recommendations, differing opinions exist as to the merits of those recommendations. None of this can be surprising to anyone. This is the process at all levels of government.

  14. M Allen

    @Pibermen – disagreement with the outcome does not equate to dysfunction. Public disagreements between commission members does not equate to dysfunction. The only way some will find pride in our P&Z Commission is if the outcomes are what they desire. The vocal minority most seeking to take “pride” in our P&Z is really unlikely to find it because the outcomes will never be as radical as they would like.

  15. Suzanne

    M Allen, What is a “radical outcome” for P and Z Commissions decisions and where have these seriously been expressed by the “vocal minority”?

    Have you been to a P and Z Commission meeting (not the correct naming reference, I realize, but what I am about to say covers both.) As just one person observing, it makes me sick when those who are on these commissions text, talk among themselves, check their watches dramatically and sigh every time either a member of the public speaks and they don’t agree or a member among them, namely Mushak, tries to address the facts of a given situation based on hard data and studies drawered by this current administration instead of taken seriously AFTER the money was spent on consultants (studies that are apparently lip service to the real goals and mission of these Commission in service to the people of Norwalk.) It is hard to criticize Mr. Mushak when the general attitude expressed by other members of the commission is one of plain rudeness – having to use language that may be offensive to you or believe is “uncivil” has been the ONLY way I have seen any one of these members of the Commission pay attention. People who have something to say and believe in what they are doing and are routinely ignored are not going to get anywhere by remaining polite and “civil” and that is very sad for the Town of Norwalk.

  16. Don’t Panic

    @M Allen,
    Again you chalkenge those who oppose BJs to come up with an appropriate alternative. You suggest that its Bjs unless we come up with something better. It is not the job of the public to fill that site with the highest and best use.
    .
    That is the job we elected and appointed our municipal representatives to do. This much opposition and so few alternatives suggests that they have done poorly.
    .
    I would like to see the long laundry list of alternatives that have been examined by the commissioners that have “shown no interest” or found our regulations “too onerous” before anyone says that Bjs is the only workable tenant.
    .
    Is it lack of imagination or lack of will that prevents us from seeking out better options?

  17. Jlightfield

    @don’t panic, to be fair to the process in place there was a prior approval on that site for apartment/condo housing that sailed through the approval process yet in the end was abandoned due to market conditions.

  18. EDR

    As I have said before on these pages if Mr. Mushak and his colleagues actually understood urban land economics they could actually have a debate that is worthwhile. Unfortunately they do not and their diatribes comes across to the general public as boorish. It is disappointing that the civility they talk about is only one way.

    By the way, there are varying clean up standards for environmentally challenged properties and I suspect the cleanup done on the Elinco site was not to residential standards thus leaving that use out of the equation.

  19. Suzanne

    EDR, it would be helpful to know in detail where the lack of knowledge about urban land economics fell short in this issue. Stating that there was a LACK of knowledge does not offer any insight as to what was missing in the conversation. Speculating as to just how clean the site is without factual knowledge offers no insight into what would be allowable on the site and, thus, offers no insight into what might be a good marketing offer for development.

  20. Don’t Panic

    @JL
    My comment stands. That is one failed alternative explored. The site is reportedly empty for 20 years including during the go-go years of a real estate market bubble that pre-dates the recession.

  21. Mike Mushak

    EDR, if you make such a bold statement which you just did about the Elinco site, please back it up with facts. Also, there are plenty of witnesses to the years of arrogance and bullying by GOP Commissioners on the ZC, towards the public as well as folks like me who support by-laws and professional plans being followed.
    .
    These are the same traits we see from OHPA and certain members of the Planning Commission. PC member and Moccia buddy Victor Cavallo even blatantly lied about the Master Plan recently in his attacks on Rilling, a serious violation of the public trust by a city official misrepresenting official policy, and he admitted he wasn’t even aware of a $75,000 professional study that is part of the Master Plan, a shocking situation considering his responsibility on the PC is to implement the Master Plan.
    .
    Now that a spotlight is being shined on this subject by good journalism and videos, especially during teh BJ’s application when GOP Chair Emily Wilson blocked attempts by me at having the city do its due diligence in protecting the public health and safety in many neighborhoods in an entire region of the city, the public is becoming aware that in many cases, the various commmissions run by Moccia appointees do not always have the best interests of city residents and businesses in mind, but only those of Mayor Moccia, who is fond of making bad decisions for the city based on the record.
    .
    Moccia’s campaign motto, “Protecting Norwalk’s Future” is an oxymoron, and I wonder if that sentence was completed to be more accurate to reflect reality and his record, it would read “Protecting Norwalk’s future FROM integrity, smart decisions, accountability, transparency, competence, and excellence.” These are all the concepts and issues Rilling is committed to changing.

  22. M Allen

    @Don’t Panic – I’m not asking any of you to actually come up with an alternative to BJ’s. I’m asking rhetorically, where are the alternatives? Or better yet, I am making a statement that it is not our zoning laws, the ones on the books or the ones proposed, that are roadblocks to building much of anything. I’m making the statement that if there were alternatives, they would have as little problem getting through as anything else. Yet they still don’t appear. Why is that?
    .
    For some reason, we aren’t attracting enough (not any, but enough) of the developers who are willing to invest millions of dolars of capital in the types of new projects that would most benefit the city. We can talk about BJ’s and 10,000 square foot recommendations and bike lanes and incivility and the Mayor lobbying commissioners and public rants by the opposition until the end of time. But guess what? None of that attracts a developer to build something useful.

  23. D(ysfunctional)TC

    There are a lot of good Democrats and Republicans and Independents serving on various commissions who seem to have people skills necessary to work with the other side and collectively make positive contributions. Mike Mushak is not one of them and is clearly part of the problem. Perhaps if he were not so outwardly hostile he might be more effective. Kicking the bee’s nest isn’t the way to get honey out of it.

    When he calls the mayor’s appointments political hacks, is he referring to Chief Rilling? Is he referring to the mayor’s appointments that were approved by the Democrat majority councils of past the mayor had to work with? Does he really expect to get anything constructive done or does he think he is entitled to their devotion and respect because of his unending intellect on what flowers to plant around a tree?

  24. Don’t Panic

    @M Allen,
    Agreed then. Thanks for the clarification.

  25. Mike Mushak

    DysTC, whoa there cowboy! I obviously struck a raw nerve. It might be the truth that you are so sensitive to. Here is the truth about Moccia’s recent appointments: Last year, when Moccia nominated two GOP Commissioners to be on the ZC again after they were on for years (despite his statement this year that he likes “fresh blood” on commissions when he skipped over Blank, one of the best commissioners we have ever had), neither one had the votes on the Council to get put back on, which clearly contradicts your false statement that Moccia’s appointments have had full support of the Council. In one case, the anti-cronyism rules requiring 2/3 majority of the Council for a nominee serving a previous 2 terms were simply changed by Maslan without any proper legal process followed to change that rule, and in the other case, (strings were pulled to get) a Common Council member to switch his vote, which was the swing vote needed to get that appointment approved.
    .
    So, DysTC, when Moccia breaks the rules in one case, and in another case (pulls strings with) a Common Council member who was the swing vote, to get two of his well-known cronies on a Commission, how can you say these appointments are with full Council support? This is corruption of process no matter how you look at it.

    (This comment has been edited to conform to our guidelines)

  26. M Allen

    Mike Mike Mike, are you saying the change by Maslan was illegal, procedurally improper or just handled in a way that resulted in an undesirable outcome for one side?
    .
    As for getting the swing vote, ain’t that politics? Were the strings pulled illegal or improper?
    .
    If the case you’re making is ONLY that these weren’t slam dunk appointments, then say that. But alluding to improprieties or illegalities is getting damn close to bordering on libel.

  27. Piberman

    Here’s suggestion. Let’s have P&Z members sit in on a BOE meeting or two and see how a capable leader manages disparate opinions without histrionics. And let’s encourage P&Z to take several managed retreats and learn how to co-operate effectively with other. Not too many years ago the BOE was similarly affected. But with good leadership and determined efforts they’ve become our mist admired public body. A good role model for the P&Z whose members must learn to exchange views civilly at meetings. Not spend their energies blogging each other and the public. Stand tall P&Z.

  28. D(ysfunctional)TC

    @Mushak. QED. Keep going. How long before Harry begs you to stop endorsing him?

  29. Suzanne

    M Allen, isn’t there supposed to be someone on Moccia’s staff for marketing and development for Norwalk, Tad? I have seen numerous suggestions for the site including one by Mr. Rilling suggesting mixed use with businesses on the bottom level and housing on top, a Trader Joe’s or other medium size grocer for the area, light industry for small business start ups (which have potential grants from the State), IT support for businesses at Merritt 7, etc. These were, I am sure, on the fly ideas but I am wondering if anything like this has been explored in twenty years??? If people on these threads can think up such things, why can’t people who are the movers and shakers with developers in this town market the property for such possibilities? If there was an overall urban development plan, there would be no conflict of interest as Moccia claims for the Town with taxes. The available sites could be presented to developers for suggested uses and choices could be made without influence but based on the developer’s business model, no undo influence in sight. But, urban planning seems to make eyes glaze over on the various commissions and with this government. Too bad Moccia cannot see further than this town – he would see so much more being done to Plans, well thought out and well executed to benefit every citizen.

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