Zoning Commish Chair repeatedly criticizes Council’s inaction on Testo’s

As you’ll read in our newspaper, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission Monday night approved the controversial master plan change sought by Democratic Chairman/restaurateur Mario Testa for his business, Testo’s.

The all-Democrat Bridgeport City Council had an opportunity to weigh in last month, but declined.

Critics have accused the council of being afraid to take on Testa.

But his attorney, Charles Willinger, noted Monday that because the council did not act, the master plan amendment required a super majority vote of the Zoning Commission – not the regular majority – to pass. So last night that meant six, instead of five, zoners had to back Testa.

“This refusal really prejudiced my client,” Willinger said.

Commission Chairman Mel Riley, the lone Republican present Monday, was clearly annoyed that the council did not take a position on Testa’s application. And Riley, who ultimately voted for the amendment, took a couple of opportunities to remind the 26 residents who attendedto oppose Testa that the council had chosen to remain silent.

“The City Council had an opportunity to decide and they punted, let’s be honest,” Riley said. “We’ve now got the call. They punted to us.”

Later he said, “Your elected representatives … punted. All the neighborhood folks should also have an issue with the City Council.”

Councilman Michelle Lyons, D-134, who represents the area around Testo’s, did submit a letter to the Zoning Commission Tuesday that was read into the record urging the master plan change be denied.

Categories: General
Brian Lockhart

3 Responses

  1. Spare me says:

    Notice what party the Chairman is from…Many in the GOP are just as bad as the Dem machine…something to think about when GOP town chairman John Slater who looks like something out of a zombie movie starts acting like he is a reformer

  2. Here is an email I received from City Council President Tom McCarthy regarding this issue:
    Jennifer, About the Proposed Amendment to the Master plan: 1) It is not on the ECDE meeting agenda for tonight. It was removed. 2) The P and Z meeting that would have dealt with this issue has been canceled (according to a notice I received today). 3) Process – The decision on whether an amendment is made to the Master Plan is NOT a Council decision. The determination rests with the Planning and Zoning committee. There is one major exception to that. Upon receipt of the request for an Amendment, the Zoning Official must make a referral to the City Council. The State General Statutes gives the Council the opportunity to endorse or not endorse the Amendment. The Council also has the ability to provide comment or recommendations in addition to the endorsement or non endorsement. This is NOT binding on the Planning and Zoning commission. The P and Z can make whatever decision they want and they don’t have to wait until there is an opinion from the Council. The requirement is that the P and Z can NOT hold a public hearing until 65 days after the Council gets the submission. After that, they can do what they want. If the Council does NOT endorse (which includes doing nothing at all), the amendment needs to get a 2/3’s vote of the P and Z to pass. If the Council endorses the Amendment, it only requires a simple majority of the P and Z. So, Jennifer, your perception is incorrect. If the Council does nothing, it is considered a non endorsement requiring a 2/3’s vote of the P and Z. I want to point out, I am not a land use attorney. Everything I am telling you is based on my reading and understanding of the law in consultation with the City Attorney’s. Tom McCarthy

  3. RLV says:

    Maybe I missed a day at school or I am wrong ( I was wrong once) but since when does a City Council “in any Town or City” decide zoning issues?