Judge Rules Against Road To Manny’s Mansion–Taxpayers Not Obligated To Pay For It–Now What?

Manny's mansion
Manny Moutinho's mansion. Photo by Morgan Kaolian.

UPDATE, includes judge’s written decision: Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe on Tuesday ruled that Bridgeport-based developer Manny Moutinho did not prove he had a hardship necessary that led to the controversial $400,000 taxpayer-paid driveway to his Stratford mansion, overturning a decision by the Stratford zoning commission, as part of an airport improvement project. From the judge’s ruling:

“Neither the taxpayers of Bridgeport, which owns the property over which the easement passes, or their Stratford counterparts, the host municipality, are obligated to contribute to the upgrade, maintenance or repair of the right of way deeded to MTM Builders’ predecessors in title, by the City of Bridgeport … Although the City of Bridgeport reserved the right to relocate the easement, that right is conditioned, pursuant to the Easement Agreement … upon the “… mutual consent of the Grantees as to the new location of the easement.” The City cannot act unilaterally, and a mediator is authorized to select a new location, should there be no agreement between the parties to the Easement Agreement.

The fact that the owner of the property, the City of Bridgeport, desires to move the easement, and that MTM Builders is in agreement, does not establish hardship. Simply because a new location might be more convenient to the holders of the easement, or more conducive to the future development of MTM’s property, is not a valid basis for a finding of hardship which is necessary to justify the granting of a variance.

Judge Radcliffe’s written decision here.

The city moved forward on financing the $400,000 driveway knowing an appeal was pending. Now what? An appeal of Radcliffe’s decision? Even more explaining to do from the city.

Statement from City Attorney Mark Anastasi: “The City is reviewing the court’s decision, as we are certain the named defendants are also doing, and we will determine an appropriate course of action.”



  1. City Attorney’s office recommended going forth and put the city at risk. This is why Manny was in no hurry to build the access road with pending litigation.

    City, once again, served some Egg Fool Young.
    Finch has to come off Walden Pond Utopia Acid Trip.
    Mark et al. have egg on their face.

  2. It will be interesting to read Mark Anastasi’s comments on this ruling. It seems the song that best describes the Finch administration is “Everything I touch turns to Sh++.”

  3. Grin,
    This is a complicated case, right? And when the facts are being investigated, it is difficult to get your hands on reliable exhibits and info, right?
    However, Judge Radcliffe’s ruling of 17 pages will be instructive as to some of the facts absent from the lecture by Mark Anastasi to the Council. From what has been posted so far, I cannot tell whether this appeal has come about by the neighbors because of the environmental issues as early reported by the CT Post, or from another sector.
    Last evening more than one Council person attempted to point out to Mark Anastasi the appearance, at least, of a conflict of interest or limit of perspective with the Labor Relations Department doing the City investigation. I think it was Angel DePara who was relentless in trying to make the point that Labor Relations will see all issues as “labor relations” issues, kind of like the repairman who had only one tool, a hammer, so that every repair job was about nailing it in.
    The more legal minds on the case, the more possibilities exist for getting down to basics and finding out what really went wrong, especially the failure of the City OPM and Finance who routinely provide little written info about projects other than the general project name or location and a sum of money. To wonder whether a budget has been estimated, what is included, what type of timeline, the nature of risks or rewards faced by the specific project are not set out for fair-minded review, before decision making. Does this sound like a necessary change in method of operations? Time will tell.

  4. Jennifer, we will learn soon, don’t you think? But what we learned last night from Mark was we did not construct MTM’s 400-yard driveway but rather a 300-yard “access way” including underground utilities. perhaps a fire hydrant or two and a gravel surface to replace the former dirt road easement, all for the brilliant expense of $400,000. We also heard there may have been as many as six lots that benefited from the access way and four of these may have been developed with houses.
    Last night sitting in Council session my mind wandered back to reflecting on the way Bridgeport handled the weather last year, snow shovel visions. I saw a snow storm of major depth and wondered how the new road would handle the plows, whether they came the first day or third day after the snow fell. Of course it’s in Stratford, not Bridgeport, and Manny has trucks so Stratford may not even be responsible for this stretch. Time will tell.

  5. June 3 Report:
    McCarthy also expressed some surprise at the nearly $400,000 price tag.

    Finch’s office declined to say whether the administration ever briefed council members on the arrangement.

    Habitat destroyed

    But now the airport time line could be jeopardized by the lawsuit that residents of the Breakwater Key condominium complex filed in September against the Stratford Zoning Board of Appeals over the driveway. A hearing on the lawsuit has been scheduled before Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe on June 3. The residents are represented by attorney Richard Saxl.

    Angry condo residents said they looked forward every morning to sitting on their back decks while gazing out at the deer and other wildlife in the wetlands.

    “An enormous amount of animal habitat has been destroyed in order to create a driveway for one man who already has an access road,” said Kimberly Nucifora. “I used to see deer on the property all the time, ducks used to come up to my deck and now they are gone.”

  6. The appeal of this matter was filed on behalf of the Breakwater Key Condo complex that closely adjoins the area where the access road was built.

    JML–Mark Anastasi and his not-so-crack legal team made the decision to move forward with a pending appeal in place. Manny was not prepared to build the road with a pending appeal in place.

  7. So now Finch has to rectify this fiasco. Deal with John Ricci who is enjoying a nice vacation and rallying for Vallas at Moales’ church who is head of BOE. It seems to me Adam Wood is asleep at the wheel. This just another WTF moment. What the F@$&! Mayor, you need someone to “fix it” and take care of your PR. Your people are making you look ridiculous. You need Olivia Pope from Scandal. She would “fix it.” Mayor you need to fix this! You need to show leadership. You are giving the voters the impression your followers have become insane and are running the asylum. The fact the Democratic Town Committee is about to endorse candidates is not good. It makes them look like stooges. Come on Bill! You have tough decisions to make. It is time to shake things up. These distractions have been bad for everyone. Your adversaries are having a field day. Your leadership is appearing weak. The good news is there isn’t anyone yet willing to step forward. It is your current council that could be punished for the sins of your administration. FIX IT!

    1. … Paging Ray Donovan … paging Ray Donovan. Will Ray Donovan please report to the office of Mayor Bill Finch in the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut? Your services are required. Thank you.

  8. So this summons and complaint was filed on 9/26/12–right around the time the City Council approved the $3 million city match to the federal money to do the airport safety improvements. I wasn’t at the city council meeting on Monday but the nine-month timetable doesn’t make any sense.

  9. In the same way Mr. Owens got away (briefly) with lying about DEEP ordering the closure of the original access road, the City Attorney and Julians are lying about the alleged clean-up of the contamination on land (53 and 85 Seaview Avenue) leased with the option to buy by the city of Bridgeport. Based on information provided by Ms. Buchanan, kudos to the four city council members who voted against the deal. Now that the city has a deal, all information pertaining to this land is public information. DEEP and EPA will be notified of the contamination of this site as soon as I’m done with the “Bus Gate” matter. As to Ms. Buchanan’s FOI request regarding the “driveway gate” I think we all know quite a bit about what happened. Perhaps we can work on the 54/85 deal and see if it has a gate to it.

  10. Irrespective of Judge Radcliffe’s decision, the Driveway caper should still be pushed for investigation by the State’s Attorney’s Office and the FBI. Ms. Buchanan’s FOI will serve well as a first step in the process of following protocols, and not skipping steps, as the City of Bridgeport so often does, in an effort to make that happen.

    Even if Anastasi does not respond promptly, the proper authorities can be alerted (as if they are not already looking at this debacle), and requests can be made for them to investigate. If I were doing the requesting, I would simply note an FOI was done, and was met with sluggish or no response. A notation like that one on the request certainly should not serve the City of Bridgeport well. The key tactic is to KEEP PUSHING. It’s easy to lose momentum considering the filibuster type tactics this shoddy Administration utilizes on a regular basis to dupe taxpayers into parting with their money and shutting up about it.

    Bridgeport City Government is comprised of a shameless bunch of financial hoodlums.

  11. John Marshall Lee, welcome to the “world of Mark Anastasi,” he is master of trickery in giving nothing while answering questions. Keep on making list of issues and problems but expect no direct answer, time will tell.

  12. The more illegal or immoral things I read that are brought up here, the more frustrating it gets to live here knowing what my tax dollars are going to.

    Guess the answer is to stop reading because it is obvious no one with any power or authority reads this, or like everyone else they choose to look the other way.

    Or everyone in this state with power or authority is dirty, we know the Stafstroms of the world have ties all the way to the top, must be the answer.

    The whole state needs a shower.

  13. Chosen, don’t give up. People like David Walker, Jennifer Buchanan, JML (be patient with his editorials, his soul brother was M. Proust), he means well, give him time to tell his long observations. Mojo, Jim Fox etc. all mean well and will be the force of change in this wretched dilemma we call Bpt Politics and its liability of liberty.

  14. Finch’s Folly!

    “If we were unable to compensate the owners of these properties, regardless of who they are, we would not be where we are today–constructing a safety zone that we have so badly needed for decades,” Finch said in a statement Friday. CT Post-06/02/2013

    Not a squeak from Little Bo Peep?
    “Whatever was going on with Manny and the driveway up there, quite frankly I didn’t care,” said Lisa Trachtenburg, the associate Bridgeport city attorney assigned the airport project. “Wasn’t thinking about it. Didn’t know much about it because it had nothing to do with me or the city.” CT Post-06/02/2013

    So legally, Trachtenburg said, the city was on the hook to provide Moutinho and his neighbors access to their properties–even though they had already decided to build a new driveway for themselves.
    “I’m not allowed to take it away,” Trachtenburg said. “I have to give them something else … And in the scope of the bigger project (and deadline of) 2015, it’s something I’ve got to get done now.” CT Post-06/02/2013

    “It’s probably not surprising that the one who had already started the design and permitting and has a business that does stuff like this could come in cheaper, but he did. And that’s all there is to it,” Trachtenburg said. CT Post-06/02/2013

    Marky Maypo!
    “In order to meet an extremely tight deadline, the city expedited the bidding process established in City Ordinances Sec.3.08.070.G.2. Following the guidelines laid out in the ordinance, the lowest respondent out of three potential contractors, Mark IV Construction, was selected coming in $21,000 lower than the next highest quote. Despite the newspaper’s efforts to create a controversy, the truth is that the contract was awarded legally and properly and the driveway construction was a requirement to move forward with a necessary safety zone for the airport, ‘ Mark Anastasi–Letter to the Editor-CT Post-06/03/2013

    What’s the Dealy YO!

  15. *** Now what, how about full disclosure on the five W’s. Then making those who knew accountable from top to bottom! Who knows what other misuse of city and state tax money has been spent on personal favors or just poor planning in general. An independent investigation is warranted here to see if past dealings have also been a questionable way of doing business in Bpt. ***

    1. *** However, chances are slim you won’t get any “real justice” seeking investigations coming out of old pal State Attorney Jepson’s office anytime soon, no? *** WHAT SAY YOU, OIB? ***

  16. Interesting discussion with an attorney this morning, and I paraphrase: The City of Bridgeport was invited by the judge via the parties to the suit to stand the day of the hearing (trial). The city was not part of the trial, and this is key because the new driveway (access road) did need to be provided. The placement of the new driveway was the most logical and direct new route. If Bridgeport does not make the airport improvements by 12/2015, we lose the federal funds. Because the City of Bridgeport did not stand during the hearing (not invited? not interested? not what?) when the appeal is heard, none of the federal/Bridgeport/airport issues will be heard in the appeal case, because it was not entered into the file. The judge wrote his opinion as if he was expecting another appeal, and not having Bridgeport information entered into the court records, as the judge invited the city to do, is very harmful to the outcome … legal minds, please weigh in!

    1. Jennifer Buchanan, legal mind I am not but based on what you said and what I have read the judge gave the City every chance to be involved and to make their case with evidence but they chose not to do that. The appeal court could tell the City to go back to the original court and show their evidence there or throw the City case out. Perhaps those legal minds could weigh in.


      1. RON (not you, Ron M.) and BRG should go bowling together in Tuscon. They apparently believe by shouting (all caps) the Mayor will resign will actually effect change. Their shouting and bowling will result in the same thing: NADA.


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