Influence, Legal Machinations And Transparency, A Zoning Cocktail For The Ages

What a serpentine zoning journey it has been, six years of legal positioning pitting spirits and spiritualism, political influence and package store business turf, a court order against and a deft legal move for a client cure.

Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe knows all about political positioning having served years in the State House before his selection to the state bench. Just as jurists Barbara Bellis and now Barry Stevens handle election complaints in court, it is Radcliffe who is tasked with hearing the complexities of zoning conflicts that can cause laymen whiplash.

For Radcliffe, you don’t rule against someone simply because they are not liked. You don’t rule for someone just because they are popular. The law is the law is the law. His legal ruling on Monday brings into focus a victory for the public’s right to know, irrespective of the legal outcome.

Six years ago, now City Councilman Michael DeFilippo, who tended bar at a restaurant owned by Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, wanted to open a package store on Brooklawn Avenue that came under fire from a coalition of liquor store owners, including OIB reader Rich Augustynowicz, who argued political influence had courted approval of a variance against city zoning regulations.

At issue was this:

A court appeal was filed. Radlciffe sided with the plaintiffs. The liquor store was shut down.

An effort followed to amend zoning regulations, as Radcliffe writes:

The Planning & Zoning Commission changed the authority charged with issuing a certificate of location from the Zoning Board of Appeals to the P&Z Commission. Zoning regs were modified opening a path for DeFilippo’s store.

Subsequent court filings from the coalition of liquor stores were brought back to Radcliffe. He has dismissed the appeal of the plaintiffs. But along the way he also issued a ruling on behalf of transparency that was ultimately enacted by the city to amend zoning regulations to specifically require a public hearing, prior to the issuance of a certificate of location.

On Monday the judge issued a decision against the plaintiffs that provide historical context to the six-year battle. See radcliffezoningdecision.

Radcliffe also raises questions, beyond the power of the court, as noted below.



  1. And there you have it!! A cocktail filled with legal maneuvering and an example of how the connected can do things that the average citizen can’t even touch.
    At least his Honor had clearly on several occasions, including in his writings, indicated what a sham this really was. They changed the rules and laws to the point where even the Judge could not rule the way he knew he should have been able to. A great strategy by “unindicted co-conspirator” Chucky Willinger at the behest of Mikey Defilippo, and their useful idiot Lynn Haig. Not to mention the assistance of some equally corrupt zoning board members.
    Glad I don’t have to deal with this corruption any longer. 6 years!!! When’s the grand opening!?? LMAO!! Follow up with a story on that Lennie or Brian!!

  2. Yaay another liquor store! Now we wait till our zoning board allows weed spots just as close to our schools! All we need now is a casino. Then all the “pleasurable distractions” will align to put the finally woke, angry educated populace back to a complacent, ignorantly blissful sleep.

  3. This is nothing new for Superior Court Dale Radcliffe, his decision over the years have been a roadmap to follow and to understanding the law in how to make Bridgeport a better City.

    1. Yes Ron he understands. Unfortunately Bridgeport voters and those who don’t vote, obviously don’t get it.
      Same old same old. The machine rules and everyone else suffers.

  4. Once again you can see the devil in the details as Judge Radcliffe observed “a Planning and Zoning Commission on which many are serving expired terms” and in which “the record was utterly devoid of evidence which would support a legally recognizable hardship.
    Competent and caring neighbors willing to stand for Board or Commissions are required. So is an administration that recognizes that training, integrity, and intelligence will be necessary for folks to do their part of governance.
    What happens? Well Bridgeport sets up a safety net for more than the Ganim, Fabrizi, Finch and Ganim2 terms that lets fall the responsibility to keep appointments of integrity up to date. As observed earlier this week – all Police Commission members terms expired. WHY?
    As observed earlier this year on multiple occasions – Fair Rent and Fair Housing Commissions – last names listed with terms over 12 years ago- Death by Mayoral ignorance, or insubordination by “political actors” appointed by Mayors with a task of bringing Boards and Commissions current, who fail? Or Mayors who do not really care about the needs of the many, but rather the needs of the few? Lennie, how many times have I written on this subject in the past 10 years? Any guess? Thank you Judge Radcliffe. Time will tell.


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