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Court denies appeal of housing trust plan approval
Litchfield.bz (06-19-17)


The Planning and Zoning Commission is the next step for the Litchfield Housing Trust now that its plan to build eight units of affordable housing on a 12.6-acre site on Torrington Road has survived an appeal in Litchfield Superior Court.
 
The court in a decision issued June 12 declared that the three Litchfield residents who appealed the Inland Wetlands Commission’s 2016 approval of the proposed housing development failed to show merit that the approval improper and illegal.
 
Appealing the decision were Betsy Glassman, Thomas D. Williams and William Moorhead. They claimed that the March 9 approval by inland wetlands was improper and illegal because it came during a meeting they said they were not notified was happening.
 
Judge John A. Danaher found that the meeting was properly advertised. In his 28-page ruling, Moore concluded that Glassman, Williams and Moorhead failed to establish that the approval was the result of bad faith, collusion or improper conduct.
 
Inland wetlands, on Feb. 10, 2016, denied the housing trust’s plan, which had received approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The commission responded on March 7 by appealing the decision.
 
After the appeal was made, negotiations between the commission and the housing trust yielded a settlement under which the housing trust agreed to include additional environmental protections in its plan. The settlement was presented to the commission in executive session on March 9 and was approved in public session.
 
While Glassman and Moorhead have expressed concern about the effect the proposed development would have on nearby wetlands, Williams has contended that the 2009 transfer of the 12.6 acres from the town to the housing trust was illegal due to a conflict of interest involving Town Attorney Michael Rybak and shady doings by First Selectman Leo Paul Jr. and then-state Rep. Craig Miner.
 
The housing trust, Williams said, doesn’t own the property. Danaher in his decision, however, wrote that the housing trust provided evidence that it is the legitimate owner of the property.