Spirited Hearing Over Proposed Liquor Store Expansion

Monday night’s zoning commission hearing turned rowdy with opponents to opening up more liquor store applications frustrated by process and a lawyer for the city promising police presence at the next meeting.

The genesis of the controversy centers on Michael DeFilippo who tends bar at Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa’s restaurants trying to open a liquor store. DeFilippo received the most votes in the September 12 Democratic primary for City Council in the North End 133rd District. He goes on to the general election. Incumbent Jeanette Herron also won in the district by one vote, but faces a legal challenge from former State Rep. Bob Keeley.

From CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart:

There will be a “bouncer” at the next debate over changing the zoning rules for liquor stores.

“The next time we will have a police officer there to escort people out if they break the rules,” promised Russell Liskov, the city attorney who presides over zoning commission meetings.

… Concluding that Bridgeport is the “most restrictive community” when it comes to determining where package stores can open, City Planning Director Lynn Haig wants zoning commissioners to approve two key changes: Reduce the required footage separating liquor sellers from “sensitive uses”–schools, day cares, houses of worship, hospitals–from 1,500 feet to 750 feet; and eliminate the requirement that liquor stores must be at least 1,500 feet apart.

Full story here.

Bridgeport liquor store owner Rich Augustynowicz who’s among those leading the charge against issued this email to select city officials and OIB following the meeting.

It was so unprofessional, mean-spirited, and I would say bordering on corrupt behavior considering that other issues were allowed whatever time it took to state their individual cases. Proposing an extra parking spot for a 3 family home would take precedent over an issue that could negatively effect the business community as well as the quality of life in this City. What a shame and an embarrassment last night was, for members of the board and for Lynn Haig who is supposed to be a professional certified planner. This is what the taxpayers get for their money!

Her presentation was so weak, proving that either she does not have the capacity to have this position, or was presenting “evidence” given to her by Attorney Willinger, which is why she stumbled around several questions. She stated that she had done “extensive” research on this issue and she was obviously proven wrong even though we were not allowed to present our case in a fair manner. Sadly, I believe she hurt whatever credibility she may have vis-a-vis holding such a position. It was very clear that Willinger provided her with the “extensive” research material as it was the same language and “facts” he used during all those many ZBA meetings when he attempted to get his “client” approval for a liquor sales location where one is not allowed by law.

Our evidence directly and honestly proves her statements wrong, or at least skewed for personal reasons and as I said, she only told the board what she felt they needed to hear to aid Willinger’s case.

Going forward, his client may become a Common Council member and many have said that if he doesn’t get what he wants before he sits on the Council then a greater possibility exists that he would get it once on. Others have commented that it’s just a shame that there are no debates or even background checks done for potential candidates, not to prevent anyone from running for office but to have full disclosure. This way the public could make smarter decisions. Welcome to Bridgeport! Business as usual. … Sad.

Someone should take issue with the fact that an Attorney who is not even a resident of Bridgeport, representing a private “client,” is the driver of a policy change such as was proposed, and is using the City’s own Office of Policy and Development Office to do it.

People tell me that “it’s a done deal.” My response is always, yes, you said that 2 years and about 9 ZBA meetings ago on this issue! To use an adage from John Marshall Lee: “time will tell.”



  1. First I suggest that Lynn Haig unglue her lips from Willinger’s ass.Liskov maybe you and the president of the commission should learn how to run a meeting. You see the council chamber is full of citizens and you know why they are there why did you leave the subject they are all therefore until the end of the meeting.
    My wife Pat Fardy was chairperson of both the zoning board and the ZBA when there were many controversial items before them. There were no loud demonstration and everyone had their say.
    Lynn Haig you have gone over to the dark side. I suggest you read the city’s master plan

  2. Bob Keeley allow this to happen in our neighborhoods.
    Jeannette Herron and Mike DeFilippo are in favor of whatever Mario wants.
    Its too late too take it out on DeFilippo but ifi there is another election we sure as hell can take it out on Herron.
    Vote for Keeley if there is a special election. He’ll fight for the neighborhoods not for the Testacrats.

  3. “Spirited”, oh, I just got it, haha. Lenny you kill me
    this proposal is killing me. Mrs Haig seemed to label all the opposition as competition in the package store industry. Not so;
    A lot of people there like me. Who CARE about Bridgeport and LIVE HERE unlike most of the OPED Planning Department who I briefly worked for a as a City Planner but was assigned to knocking down historic properties instead.
    The City Planning Department has never planned. They have always reacted and represented the interests of powerful developers and powerful politicians.

    Alas, that is the case here.

    As a City Planner who graduated from a ACCREDITED School of Planning (and a huge disciple of Jane Jacobs (she would never approve of this)), I am appalled and oh by the way…more liquor stores is a bad idea. Liquor stores are a blight. Look at Wood Avenue and Suburban where DeFillippo wants to put one. Floor to ceiling advertisements for things like Miller Light Suitcases. Just what we need in a residential neighborhood. Just the kind of thing neighborhood children need to see. This has always been a nice commercial intersection. We need it to stay that way!
    So they filibustered us (is that the right word?) I was there and I believe that is what I saw amid a huge amount of spin doctoring. A lot of plays pulled out of the old playbook on this one.
    So they muzzled us so write letters to the Connecticut Post and other media. Bring signs and demonstrate outside in October. Get News12 there. Out these folks.

    1. What you will see there is an abuse of power and a zoning chairmen that is clueless. I wonder if Liskov is really that tough or is he using his office to be a bully.

          1. Terminal Dumb Ass! Your lovely wife and former Chair wouldn’t have put up with some of the disruptive behavior from some members of the audience. Cursing, threats to Commissioners are not acceptable.

            The package store owners were respectful and their spokesperson, Rich, from BevMax presented a fair opinion. If 0at were chairing this meeting, the disrupts would gave been like a salad. TOSSED!

            I believe that the commission was wrong in reversing the agenda. Lynn Haig may be a planning professional but as a presenter she was weak.

            The Commission also made it perfectly clear that the hearing end at 10:45 and resume for the next meeting in October so that all in opposition could be heard.

            Got it. Get it. Good.

  4. FIASCO. Russel Liskov and Mark Anastasi both need to be fired..regardless of the cost. They are a cancer in the City Attorney’s Office and have tried to spread their cancer/tumor through other boards and the horror story of the WPCA.

    1. Actually the crowd endured the entire four hours until the end without interrupting anything.
      I did not hear any swearing
      Telling the commissioners they should be replaced (at the end of the meeting) is threatening?
      No, that’s democracy.
      Let’s go to the videotape!

      1. Bob-You were the Growler-In-Chief! You were reprimanded by the Chair early in the meeting for your loud mutterings. I think that you were on a seven second delay. Swear to God!

        1. Nope, I was out of order once at 10 20 when I spoke out and said “When do we get to speak”. That’s when they threatened to call the cops. That’s really all I said. The floodgates opened only at the ending

  5. Grin do you expect people to sit there and be quiet when they are being taunted by the commission and its schedule. You really like calling me names if you are that bad why use a handle/? You sound like an administration ass kisser. BTW my wife would not have allowed the big item of the night and the reason for the meeting to be moved on the list

    1. Town Committee – Clearly you didn’t comprehend what I said about Pat. You weren’t there, so STFU!
      You’re pretty good at name calling. We miss seeing you at Mario’s! Tom Kelly

      1. P.S.-The Terminal Dumb Ass is a term of endearment that you laid on many people besides calling people whores and other names. I’ve also always admired your public service to our city and your neighborhood. Peace Out!

  6. As soon as they saw the crowd they should have set up a separate meeting and agenda for just the change. Check Willinger was limited to 5 minutes?
    No. Not at all. I wasn’t there but Willinger could not say “I appreciate the commission and city planner rewriting the zoning regs to appease my client” in 5 minutes.
    In two years time the city will say that they did not foresee the problems here and will move to change them back. But that’s OK Mario’s Man has gotten the change that he wanted and could care less about anyone else.
    Instead of the Grin Reaper chiming in let’s hear what FOLLOW THE MONEY has to say.

  7. Attorney Willinger spoke no more than 4 minutes. Whatever happened to that Grim Reaper? I think that Follow the Money is with Up on Bridgeport at your favorite pizzeria. The owner is asking how their Grumpy friend is? Marco? Polo??

  8. The proliferation of businesses such as liquor stores and Hookah Lounges in this area is a response to the burgeoning presence in Bridgeport of the SHU party-scholars that have infested our neighborhoods… It’s analogous to the national-level problem of the ascension of the drug trade; it wouldn’t be what it is without the US market driving it… Same thing with the alcohol-/party-retail and rental-party-house market in Bridgeport — they’re being driven by demand from an obvious source… SHU… (It should be noted, BRIDGEPORT’S UNIVERSITY — UB — is not a “party” school; its student body consists of a large percentage of foreign students sent here to prepare to contribute to their countries/societies, so they have little time or money to waste on stupid, destructive, disruptive behavior… SHU has lots of clueless, spoiled brats that are protected and catered to by a money-driven institution directed by a money-and-power driven Administration and BOD… At this point in time in Bridgeport; if there is a money-related zoning issue in the North End or Upper East Side, there is a good chance that somehow it is connected with the presence/expansion of SHU… So, look for more liquor stores and Hookah Lounges, et al., as long as SHU retains an upper-hand in neighborhood considerations in the aforementioned parts of Bridgeport…)

    1. Jeff well said
      I was thinking the same thing, however I was once in such a party crowd out in the western mountains of Maryland but we weren’t all bad. So you have to take the good with the bad and not broad brush SHU
      And to you Grin get that dog away from tugging on the curtain that has that little bespectacled man who is working levers behind it!

  9. Jeff – Let’s shut down The Canteen while you’re at it. Bob us referring to Mad Dog Freddie Carter. The Wizard of Odds in Emmitsburg! Bob- Do you remember Tom Fedell from those Saint Mary’S Daze?

  10. Good catch Tom.
    Yes I remember Tom. Cool guy, smart, level headed, athletic but like the rest of us out in the country mostly blue collar kids, Philly, DC, Balto and PA
    I heard Tom has done well

  11. Yes he has.He went to work at AT&T. Then founded and took public a CRM platform. Last I knew he was in the Charlotte N.C area. Good guy! Give my best to Bill Everett!


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