The Office of the City Attorney on Thursday issued a legal opinion against the proposed four-story, 177-unit residential development on property at the former Testo’s Restaurant which will make opposition residents happy and local developer John Guedes to likely seek an appeal with the Zoning Board of Appeals and if necessary state court.
This means developers may complete demolition on the property but nothing more.
News release from Mayor’s office.
This afternoon, the Office of the City Attorney issued the attached legal opinion concerning the proposed development project at 1773, 1843, and 1849 Madison Avenue. In summary, the City Attorney’s review of the matter found that the Zoning Approval issued under the 2010 Zoning Regulations was improper, and that the project as currently proposed should be reviewed under the new zoning regulations which took effect on January 1, 2022.
Having been advised of the City Attorney’s legal report, Paul Boucher—the City’s chief Zoning Official—has issued the attached letter to the developers of 1773, 1843, and 1849 Madison Avenue permanently revoking the Zoning Approval for the proposed 4-story, 177 unit residential development. This action follows the temporary revocation that was issued last week.
Because the building permit for the foundation of the proposed project relies on proper zoning approval, Building Official Arben Kica has also revoked the foundation permit. The revocation of Zoning Approval has no bearing on the demolition permit previously issued by the Building Department.
Statement of Mayor Ganim
“A few weeks ago, residents in the lower North End that live in the neighborhood of Madison Ave. and Westfield Ave. wrote a letter to my office requesting that the City of Bridgeport review the project which proposes the construction of a 4-story structure with 177 residential units. Councilmembers Jeanette Herron and Aikeem Boyd also subsequently reached out to my office asking for a full review of the project.
Among the concerns and questions raised by the residents and Council members from the area were that the project was not submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a vote, there was no public hearing on the matter, and that the project was being allowed to proceed under the regulations of the old zoning code rather than the new regulations which took effect on January 1, 2022.
Upon notice of these concerns, I immediately requested that the City Attorney, in collaboration with the Office of Planning and Economic Development, conduct a full review of the project, including whether the Zoning Approval issued by the Zoning Department in October 2022—and any permits related to that approval—were validly issued. That investigation resulted in the legal report issued to the Zoning Department today.
I am grateful to the Office of the City Attorney for their thorough review of this matter, and to the Zoning Official for acting in accordance with City Attorney’s advice. I am also very grateful to Councilmembers Jeanette Herron and Aikeem Boyd for asking for this review and for their strong advocacy for their constituents regarding this matter. Like them, I continue to stand with the residents and their concerns regarding the size and scope of the proposed project, as well as the fact that this project was allowed to proceed without the opportunity for a public hearing or vote of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
It is my sincere hope that the developer of this property will work collaboratively with the City to propose a project that is both proper under the new Zoning regulations and better suited for this quiet residential neighborhood. I am confident that there is a way forward that can accommodate a new development of that site while preserving the quality of life for the residents that live in that community.”
Statement of Council Members Jeanette Herron and Aikeem Boyd
“Today is a victory for the residents of our district. The legal opinion issued by the City Attorney and the Zoning Official’s revocation of the Zoning Approval are the result of their strong and persistent advocacy over the past several months. This is an example of the power that people can have when they stand together for the best interest of their neighborhood.
We are grateful to the Mayor for hearing our concerns as Council members and asking his administration to conduct a full legal review of this matter, as well as to the City Attorney and Zoning Official for their efforts to ensure that this project is handled properly in accordance with our zoning regulations. Going forward, we hope that the City will stay on top of this matter and see to it that whatever development that happens on this property is suitable for the residents who live in the neighborhood.
The project as proposed is simply too big and will produce too much traffic for this quiet residential area. Furthermore, the people of our district deserve to be heard by our zoning boards regarding the impact that this project will have on the community. If this matter is appealed by the developer, we hope that the community will come out to the public hearings and make sure that their legitimate concerns are heard. We will stand in solidarity with them until their concerns are fully addressed.”