Rich Augustynowicz, owner of Discount Wines & Liquors of Bridgeport on Wood Avenue, is leading the charge against a petition by land use attorney Chuck Willinger for the Planning & Zoning Commission to reduce the 1,500 foot rule prohibiting the sale of alcohol near a house of worship, school, daycare center or another package store. The P&Z will conduct a public hearing January 25, 6:45 p.m. in City Council Chambers regarding Willinger’s request to reduce the distance to 750 feet after Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe overturned a zoning decision he said benefited a politically connected applicant.
A few weeks ago Radcliffe ruled that the “fix was in” condemning political influence that approved an application for a package store opponents argued violated state law including former Republican State Senator Rob Russo, the lone dissenter on the Zoning Board of Appeals decision. Radcliffe ruled “Because the variances granted by the Bridgeport Zoning Board of Appeals are a condition precedent to the lawful operation of a package store at 1044 Brooklawn Avenue, Bridgeport, the Defendant, Michael DeFillipo, is ordered to immediately cease and desist from the use of any portion of 1044 Brooklawn Avenue, as a package store.”
Last spring a steady stream of city politicians lobbied the ZBA to approve the package store application. The applicant hired Bridgeport land use guru Willinger to make the presentation to the ZBA. Willinger argued a hardship was present because the 1,500 foot rule prevents the building from being used for the desired purpose. He also claimed hardship based on the “need for this type of use.”
Radlciffe overturned the ZBA. Now Willinger has requested that the P&Z lower the 1,500 foot rule.
Augustynowicz, a retired Stamford police officer raised in The Bronx, New York, told OIB if the 1,500 foot rule is reduced to 750. Bridgeport will become “Harlem in the 1960s.”
He issued an email blast to the City Council, mayor’s office and other officials urging support to reject the proposed rule change. See below:
On its agenda for January 25th, 2016, at 6:45PM, the Zoning Board will have before them an issue brought forth by Willinger & Bucci P.C., requesting to change the rule that prohibits the sale of alcohol within 1500 feet of a school; house of worship; daycare center, or another package store. The proposed amendment would change the 1500 foot rule to a mere 750 feet. That reduction in feet equates to the possible placement of a liquor store on every other block in Bridgeport!
I don’t believe, as a city resident, merchant, and retired Police Officer, that this change would benefit the City or any of its residents. It would also not be in the interest of merchants who have built their businesses on existing rules, regulations, and laws which were established for many well thought out reasons.
In the City of Bridgeport today, houses of worship and schools can be found approximately 8 blocks from one another. Daycare centers approximately every 4 blocks. Beer can be readily purchased at numerous supermarkets, bodegas, and package stores throughout Bridgeport.
This change in the rule is not a positive direction for this City to take, especially in the more densely populated and lowest income areas of Bridgeport where the opening of more liquor stores can result in increased crime and lower property values.
I am a Bridgeport resident and also own Discount Wines & Liquors Of Bridgeport, DBA “BEV-MAX” since 1997, located on Wood Avenue right at Wood Park.
I would expect that after contemplating this issue and realizing how it could negatively affect your constituents, all Council members would be opposed to such a change and take quick action against it.
Please advise me of how you will handle it.