Straight Talk

HONEST talk about local issues!

Truth, Part X–Reality … The Politician/Attorney Version

video-film-reality_-delm_1In early September you will recall that both the fire house conversion and the Gallogly purchase proposal were the subject of a public hearing (9/8/12).  This occurred because the Town is required under Connecticut General Statutes to have a hearing on the sale of municipal property and because the Selectmen had voted to take both proposals to a hearing and then on to a Town Meeting.

Sec. 7-163e. Public hearing on the sale, lease or transfer of real property owned by a municipality. (a) The legislative body of a municipality, or in any municipality where the legislative body is a town meeting or representative town meeting, the board of selectmen, shall conduct a public hearing on the sale, lease or transfer of real property owned by the municipality prior to final approval of such sale, lease or transfer. Notice of the hearing shall be published in a newspaper having a general circulation in such municipality where the real property that is the subject of the hearing is located at least twice, at intervals of not less than two days, the first not more than fifteen days or less than ten days and the last not less than two days before the date set for the hearing. The municipality shall also post a sign conspicuously on the real property that is the subject of the public hearing.

The First Selectman (along with his two comrades) wanted desperately to dispense with this discussion and sell the property at a bargain basement price as soon as possible.  Since they had the SAHC in their pocket, it was now becoming imperative to convince the Planning and Zoning Commission to go along with their plan.

This would be a much more complex mission considering that the P&Z Commissioners were not as easily deceived or intimidated into submission as the SAHC Commissioners.

The approach was to con the P&Z into believing they had to render a decision on this matter.  You might recall that the Town Attorney, Thomas Marrion, had eluded to Connecticut General Statute 8-24 in an email of August 9, 2011.

Attorney Marrion writes to First Selectman Curtis Rand and others, concerning the Gallogly sale:

“… this would require a Planning & Zoning hearing under CGS section 8-24 …”

Really?  It must be so since it came from an attorney … yes?

Here is what it says about the role of P&Z:

Sec. 8-24. Municipal improvements. No municipal agency or legislative body shall (1) locate, accept, abandon, widen, narrow or extend any street, bridge, parkway or other public way, (2) locate, relocate, substantially improve, acquire land for, abandon, sell or lease any airport, park, playground, school or other municipally owned property or public building, (3) locate or extend any public housing, development, redevelopment or urban renewal project, or (4) locate or extend public utilities and terminals for water, sewerage, light, power, transit and other purposes, until the proposal to take such action has been referred to the commission for a report. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, a municipality may take final action approving an appropriation for any proposal prior to the approval of the proposal by the commission pursuant to this section. The failure of the commission to report within thirty-five days after the date of official submission of the proposal to it for a report shall be taken as approval of the proposal. In the case of the disapproval of the proposal by the commission the reasons therefor shall be recorded and transmitted to the legislative body of the municipality. A proposal disapproved by the commission shall be adopted by the municipality or, in the case of disapproval of a proposal by the commission subsequent to final action by a municipality approving an appropriation for the proposal and the method of financing of such appropriation, such final action shall be effective, only after the subsequent approval of the proposal by (A) a two-thirds vote of the town council where one exists, or a majority vote of those present and voting in an annual or special town meeting, or (B) a two-thirds vote of the representative town meeting or city council or the warden and burgesses, as the case may be. The provisions of this section shall not apply to maintenance or repair of existing property, buildings or public ways, including, but not limited to, resurfacing of roads.

I see nothing about a hearing in this Statute.  It speaks of a report and even goes further to outline how the Town Meeting can override any ‘disapproval’ by the P&Z.

That’s not how our ‘honorable’ leaders were portraying things … according to their version of reality the P&Z was the alpha and the omega …

To be continued …

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