A legal resolution could come soon involving the controversial $400,000 “access way” installed by Mark IV Construction, owned by developer Manny Moutinho, as part of an airport safety plan. The City Council’s Public Safety & Transportation Committee, according to committee co-chair Michelle Lyons, is scheduled to meet Thursday 6 p.m. in Wheeler Room A of City Hall, 45 Lyon Terrace.
According to the posted agenda, the council committee will take up a “Request for an Executive Session Discussion and Potential Action as Appropriate concerning the Stratford ZBA’s Granting of a Variance for the New Access Way Constructed by Mark IV Construction Co. Inc. on Sikorsky Memorial Airport Property.”
Essentially this is a proposed legal settlement to keep in place the improvements that Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe ruled city taxpayers had no obligation to pay.
In July of last year Radcliffe ruled that Bridgeport-based developer Moutinho did not prove he had a hardship necessary that led his construction of the controversial $400,000 taxpayer-paid driveway to his Stratford mansion, overturning a decision by the Stratford zoning commission, as part of an airport safety project. In his decision the judge wrote:
“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.”
If the council committee acts on the measure Thursday night it could go to the full council for a vote at its scheduled meeting Jan. 21.
CT Post scribe Brian Lockhart has more here.
Republican Town Chair John Slater weighs in:
Republican Town Chairman John Slater today repeated his call for the Bridgeport City Council to make public the full details of the proposed settlement of litigation challenging the city’s construction of a $400,000 access road on airport property in the Town of Stratford. Slater also repeated his call for a public hearing on the proposed agreement.
“For too long decision-making in Bridgeport has involved a privileged few operating behind closed doors,” Slater said. “This botched project is no exception to that practice.”
Slater noted that it has been over a month since the proposed settlement was submitted to the Council and referred to committee. “A month later the voters and taxpayers still know you know more about the ‘settlement’ than they did when it was submitted.”
“Before the Council acts on this proposed ‘settlement’ the public should know the full details of the agreement, including any additional cost to the city,” Slater said. “They should also have the opportunity to make their views known at a public hearing prior to any Council action on the settlement.”
“The Finch administration has gone out of its way to avoid providing information about this controversial project to the public,” Slater said. “That’s not hard to understand in light of the questionable decision-making and mismanagement of the project. It is also wrong.”
“It’s time to break down the walls of secrecy and let the public know what the administration is proposing; the reasons for the proposal and how much it will cost. Anything less would be an insult to Bridgeport voters and the taxpayers will have to foot the bill.”