Norwalk Zoning Commissioners a bit hazy in trying to reconstruct meeting

Norwalk Zoning Commission AMEC 040313
Norwalk’s Zoning Commission holds a special meeting Wednesday, attended by three lawyers.

NORWALK, Conn. – David McCarthy is on the Common Council now, but, on Wednesday, he was back on the Zoning Commission, answering questions from a lawyer.

Corporation Counsel Robert Maslan wanted to know what McCarthy and the rest of the 2011 commission could remember from conversations they had a year and a half ago.

“This is a special meeting to comply with a court order that the Zoning Commission make a good faith effort to recreate the record as much as humanly possible meetings of the plan review committee held on Sept. 8, 2011 and Dec. 8, 2011,” Maslan said to begin the proceedings.

It’s the latest development in an appeal filed by AMEC Carting LLC in January 2012 challenging the commission’s decision to deny most of the company’s application to expand its business at its construction-and-demolition transfer station at 1 Crescent St. AMEC was allowed to increase the amount of debris it takes in, but not allowed to take in debris from outside haulers.

The conference room was packed. In addition to Maslan, the commissioners and staff, there were two lawyers representing AMEC and three people from the company, including Michelle Marmarinos and Guy Mazola. Marmarinos took notes.

The committee meetings were important, Maslan said.

“Since these are post-hearing meetings, the discussion constituted deliberations and I am told by the staff that a tape recording was attempted but, because of technical difficulties, the recording is not very usable,” he said.

He pointed out that Diane Palmentiero, the minute taker, was not a city employee.

“That person does use a tape recorder, her own personal tape recorder, to assist her in preparing minutes, but she reuses those, because they’re not the official tape recording of the meeting,” he said. “As a result, those tape recordings are not available.”

Maslan used Palmentiero’s minutes as the basis for the discussion, asking if commissioners remembered anything that wasn’t in there.

However, with apologies to the late Marvin Hamlisch and lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman, memories did not light the corners of their minds.

Maslan asked Joe Santo and McCarthy what questions they had for the Department of Public Works, as mentioned in the minutes.

Santo’s answer included the phrase, “I don’t recall exactly what was said.”

“It would have been asking staff if DPW had any comments to help us make a decision,” he said.

Norwalk Zoning Commission 040313
Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E) reprises his role as a zoning commissioner Wednesday during a meeting called to recreate discussions that happened in late 2011.

McCarthy didn’t add much.

“My recollection was somewhat similar to Mr. Santo,” he said. “We had had the public hearing and been presented with a number of facts, some of which were conflicting or open to interpretation.” McCarthy said they asked for “an opinion specifically, I believe, related to drainage and traffic. As far as to what the exact question might have been, that I can’t really recall.”

Commissioner Mike Mushak confirmed the minutes when asked about his comment about trench drains. He did not remember anything else.

Asked later about Wednesday’s meeting to reconstruct the 2011 meeting, Mushak said he couldn’t comment, due to the pending litigation.


6 responses to “Norwalk Zoning Commissioners a bit hazy in trying to reconstruct meeting”

  1. Hobbes.the.Calvinist

    Once again a friend of Dick Moccia’s from “the day” gets the city in hot water. Joe Santo was never qualified to be a commissioner and he was out of his league as chairman. What are the odds Moccia renominates him?

  2. oldtimer

    It may not be fair to blame Santo. Wasn’t the Mayor leading their deliberations ? The suit seems to question the legality of limits placed in the zoning permit and the reasons for such limits. The City is not the only defendent, Sclafani. a food distributor next door, is another. Didn’t Zoning have good legal counsel when they set the limits ? Courts do not overturn local zoning unless there has been serious error in their rulings, such as an interest in protecting competitors. We’ll see if there was good reason for the limits they imposed.

  3. Joe Espo

    Just so you know, I’m exercising a lot of restraint in this post because it would never be published if I have the opportunity to expound on the quality of the previous posters’ human existence and their disregard for the consequences of dishonesty so long as the Mayor is discredited.

    The Zoning Commission made a determination that AMEC’s application was to be denied because it didn’t comply with existing regs or it was not in the best interests of the City. The Commission had more democrats than republicans on it at the time. The Mayor is not on the Commission.
    The official record – cassette tapes- is controlled by the P&Z staff. They start, stop, flip, and rewind the cassettes during the hearings. They store them. The commissioner, including the chairperson, don’t touch them. No one monitors the taping to determine if a good recording is being made.
    The cassette equipment is rudimentary: basically a portable cassette recorder from the 1990s. It’s the function of the Information Technology department to upgrade the equipment. The P&Z staff does it’s best.
    Any yahoo who gets denied by the Commission can appeal. The only way to ensure against that is to rubber stamp every application, permit, etc. And then, why would we need a Zoning Commission?
    AMEC seems to like suing everybody, including Sclafani Italian foods. I guess they have something against Sclafani’s tomato sauce.

  4. Tim T

    Why is it nothing good ever comes out of this administration??? Not even once.

  5. oldtimer

    Nobody is discrediting the mayor, or anybody else, this time. The Mayor is, ex-officio, part of every board and commission in the City. To his credit, he takes that responsibility serious and runs many meetings. Wasn’t he quoted recently for suggesting, at a zoning meeting, that Harry Rilling, a zoning commissioner, should avoid campaigning at a zoning meeting ? All I was suggesting was it is not fair to blame Joe Santo, with only one vote, for any mistakes the Zoning board may have made. Having an appeal filed is hardly proof the board was wrong. Not having a good recording of their meeting is either proof the equipment is way behind the times, or, as will probably be claimed, proof the board knows they made mistakes and do not want proof of that given to AMEC. Limiting how much AMEC can handle in a day could be reasonable, purely based on traffic concerns, limiting from where they can accept truckloads may well be harder to justify.

  6. oldtimer

    Re-creating a meeting from that long ago will be just about impossible. It is hard to believe a judge asked them to try. Getting somebody to recreate a meeting from last month would be a real challenge if there was no pressure imvolved. There is pressure in this case, a lawsuit. Without a good record, memories will be hazy and conflicting and everybody will be very cautious. They will be lucky if they come close. Seperate interviews, in private, by a very skilled interviewer, might work better, but they will still not get an accurate re-creation. They will give plaintiff counsel ammunition to work with.

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