Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 7, 2018

CT Super. Court Holds that Seeking Evidence of Whispers and Innuendos Among Board Members to Influence Decision Did Not Constitute a Valid Complaint

This post was authored by Touro Law student Thomas Brown ’20

Walgreens wanted to construct a location on a street in Southport Connecticut, the back of which bordered a residential road. Neighbors brought an action to stop the plans after Walgreens acquired the necessary special permit from the Zoning Board. The neighbors alleged that the plans were contrary to Fairfield’s Plan of Conservation and Development, or Master Plan, and it would result in the first commercial building existing along Kings Highway West, which they said contained historic homes. After three separate hearings, the plaintiffs alleged that commission members were inappropriately influencing each other as friends and acquaintances outside of the public process. Sherri Steeneck, initially opposed to the plans, ended up telling Gerald Alessi, over the phone, that she was going to vote in favor of the plans. The Court found that because there were no financial interests alleged or involved, and because the conflict-of-interest complaints were brought so late, the plaintiffs’ complaint was not valid. The court said that seeking evidence of whispers and innuendo among members was not sufficient for a valid complaint and that, because the allegations were brought so late they were clearly a last-ditch effort to impugn the defendants’ credibility and the credibility of the proceedings.

Marzziotti v. Plan & Zoning Comm’n of Town of Fairfield, 2016 WL 1099194(Conn. Super. Ct. Feb. 19, 2016)

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