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.

Brian Lockhart