Will Bridgeport Light Up Like Broadway? Hartford HealthCare’s “Illuminated” Sign Proposal Atop St. V’s Draws Residential Fire, Zoning Change Sought For Sign Approval

UPDATE: P&Z continued the matter to next month based on HHC request.

Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez shines a light on Hartford HealthCare’s land use maneuvering to “install a garish eight (8) foot” illuminated sign on the roof its property St. Vincent’s Medical Center located in the middle of residential North End. The Planning & Zoning Commission is scheduled to take up the matter Monday night.

“This has nothing to do with the well-being of people of the City of Bridgeport and everything to do with a corporate entity exercising its power of control over the residents, because it can.”

See agenda PZC_Agenda_-_September_27,_2021

From Judge Lopez:

Zoning Regulations are designed to give uniformity and stability to a community.

But this is Bridgeport!

In this political cesspool, if the regulations stand in your way, you contact the Office of Planning and Economic Development (OPED), and get them changed.

It worked for former Council Member Michael DeFilippo when he wanted to open a liquor store, and now Hartford HealthCare (HHC), the owner of St. Vincent’s Medical Center, is following the same script.

You see, Bridgeport Zoning Regulations don’t allow St. Vincent’s to install a garish eight (8) foot lighted sign on the hospital’s roof. Those same regulations prohibit the Zoning Board of Appeals from granting a sign variance.

No problem, call OPED and enlist the taxpayer supported city agency as your cheerleaders.

On Monday, September 27 at 6:30 PM, the Bridgeport Planning and Zoning Commission is poised to accommodate Hartford Healthcare, just as it did to former Council Member DeFilippo.

It is primed to put the finishing touches on an OPED backed text amendment first considered in April 2021. At that P&Z Commission meeting, Hartford HealthCare, acting through OPED, was seeking ‘flexibility’ regarding signage for the roof of St. Vincent’s Hospital, as well as wall signs.

The commission heard moving arguments against the changes from various members of the community, including State Representative Jack Hennessy, City Council Members Michelle Lyons and Maria Pereira, and city resident Helen Losak. Even Pastor Kenneth Moales, Jr. spoke against the amendment.

The Commission voted to approve the item, with several conditions proposed by Commissioner Morton.

Specifically, Commissioner Morten stated that “This approval does not include any type of roof signs or any use of electronic messaging; moving text or images, intermittent/moving lights and strobe lights are all prohibited.”

Sounds pretty clear to me, wouldn’t you agree?

Perhaps to you and me it is clear, but not to Mr. Jeffrey Flaks, Hartford Healthcare’s $2 Million dollar CEO. Less than one month later, on May 24, 2021, an application was filed with the P & Z by HHC, seeking approval to “install 199.16 square foot sign on terrace elevation facing Route 8,” on the east side of St. Vincent’s Medical Center.

And in typical self-serving language, HHC included a statement in their application that “our mission is to improve the health and healing of the people and communities we serve.”

You have got to love this statement, especially in light of the opposition from elected leaders and residents of the City at the last P & Z meeting held in April. Looks like they have a different understanding of improving “the health and healing” of our community than those of us living here.

On June 28, 2021, the P & Z held a meeting and this application was heard. The HHC representative stated that HHC wishes to “add a 199 square foot sign on the medical center.” She continued that “the letters on the sign are internally illuminated with LED lights. The sign will face downtown Bridgeport.”

A neighbor who will be directly affected by the lights on the sign, voiced his objection and stated that “his house is located very close to the sign’s location. He does not desire to have additional light going into his room at night and … is concerned that they are over-lit at night and cannot sleep well in their bedroom.”

Only in Bridgeport would an appeal from a real person directly affected by the proposed sign be met by a callous rebuttal from the HHC representative, “From a signage perspective, this is low visibility light.”

From a signage perspective; really? What about from the resident’s perspective?

The Commission deferred action on this application until their next meeting scheduled for July 26, 2021, which was canceled due to the lack of a quorum. The matter was rescheduled for the August 30, 2021 meeting.

While waiting for the August 30, 2021 meeting on the special permit, however, on August 13, 2021, HHC filed an application to once again amend the already amended sign regulations.

In this application, they are seeking a text amendment to the regulations regarding roof signs on hospital buildings of at least eight stories. They want huge signs to make sure that everyone knows that they are an occupying presence in the City.

On August 30, 2021, the P & Z heard from Attorney Ray Rizio, representing HHC on this application. Representing powerful and influential applicants before the P & Z in Bridgeport, allows an attorney for the petitioner to say such things to resident commissioners as, “roof signs have evolved over the years … the current sign is considered too small by the hospital … roof signs are limited to 3 feet in height currently. This is inadequate for an 8-story building.”

What evidence supports this opinion? He didn’t care to go into that!

Since Bridgeport is currently in the process of re-writing its zoning regulations, Chairman Riley expressed concern over the fact that ruling on this application now, was really just “effective spot-zoning.” Why not just wait a month or two for Bridgeport to finish its re-write of the regulations?

Commissioner Morton, a longtime member of the Commission also expressed irritation and stated that he has “an issue with specific entities coming in and wanting to make changes to zoning regulations.”

The matter was continued to September 27, where both of the applications will be heard.

Anyone who still questions whether healthcare is a business, and not a profession, need only examine the Hartford HealthCare operating model. Doctors are employees under contract, whose time is managed and regulated by administrators, most of whom have no medical training.

But while trained board certified physicians are relegated to the status of piecework employees, HHC’s marketing department grows and prospers. Witness the incessant bombardment of television and newspaper ads and naming rights to entertainment venues.

Do they really have to have a huge eight foot sign, so people will find the hospital?


This has nothing to do with the well-being of people of the City of Bridgeport and everything to do with a corporate entity exercising its power of control over the residents, because it can. The P & Z can reaffirm its previous position and refuse to change its regulations in order to accommodate HHC.

I hope that the Commission does the right thing by its people on September 27th.



  1. Judge Lopez’s commentary regarding the on-going, viral (opportunistic) hijacking of the Bridgeport-regional healthcare-delivery apparatus by Hartford Healthcare (HHC) — with the consequential threat of limited healthcare availability and quality for Bridgeport residents, and in a related, strategic/tactical context, the hijacking of the sensory prerogatives of Bridgeport residents — is absolutely apropos in regard to its impact on (and reflection of) the city’s on-going political-economic demise.

    Indeed; the present case of the environmental infliction of the BILLION-CANDLE HHC sign on the Bridgeport skyline, while seemingly just “one of those Bridgeport zoning issues,” serves to illuminate HHC’s intentions — and ability –to leverage Bridgeport City Hall in its drive to overwhelm and dominate the healthcare-delivery sector of the regional economy by way of the obliteration of the (hobbling?!) BRIDGEPORT identity of high-profile, elementally-Bridgeport institutions such as Saint Vincent’s Hospital (and even BRIDGEPORT Mayor Ganim’s vanity project of the remaking of the always-controversial BRIDGEPORT Bluefish Harbor Yard ballpark into the vaunted HARTFORD Healthcare Amphitheater)…

    HHC’s hyper-aggressive assertion of its presence in Bridgeport is such that it can only be perceived politically.

    The speed, force and manner in which HHC has asserted its presence in Bridgeport can be interpreted as a political blitzkrieg, in which, implicitly, it can be assumed that they have bought into the next Ganim election/political gambit, per their financing/perceptual engineering, definable in terms of the purchase of a new identity for the Ganim political domain, with the entrance to the latter through the doors of his latest, tax-payer subsidized vanity-development at Harbor Yard. Indeed the Amphitheater moniker helps HHC eclipse/obliterate any conflicting identity-/image-conflict implicit per its “Bridgeport” regional presence, even as it does the same for the Next Governor of Connecticut… Distract. Divert. Deny… If it doesn’t say “Bridgeport,” it isn’t Bridgeport. If it looks pretty and has your name on it and isn’t sullied by a “Bridgeport” identity it gives you and your bought-and-paid for gubernatorial hopeful some added image enhancement —and POWER…

    But back to The Sign; it will be obnoxious, and inappropriate/disrespectful for the neighborhood and city. It could even lead to confusion for those seeking landmark, healthcare locations in BRIDGEPORT…

    And why would our Mayor want our city’s name, or those of our identifying institutions eclipsed/obliterated?! Perhaps to cover his tracks in the perception voters in a statewide election, even as he courts big campaign donors — and maybe even a new employer?!

    First the, once-proud, distinguished University of Bridgeport is allowed to collapse and go on the auction block… Now the HHC blitzkrieg on Bridgeport… What’s next on what remains of Ganim-II’s watch?!


    Happy Bicentennial HARTFORD! — oh, I mean BRIDGEPORT!…

  2. Again: thank you Judge Lopez!
    The only difference with this is that no one will be arrested and indicted over a lighted sign as Defilippo was for voter fraud. However, Zoning and OPED should stand trial for assisting in many of Bridgeport’s mishaps and underhanded and corrupt dealings.

    1. Gotta love those “text amendments!!”
      Can’t get what you want based upon current regs.? Write a new reg to fit your need like Mikey had done.
      Willinger/ Haig not involved!!?? Lol! We’ve witnessed rooms full of people against a proposal, numerous facts presented, and testimony from professionals in the field.
      Nothing mattered. Every issue should have a packed house because even if it’s not your issue, eventually, it will affect you.

  3. Thank you Judge Lopez for your words on the signage questions that are before our Zoning representatives, especially when you ask about the necessity of this eight foot sign as proposed as a method to find out where the Hospital is located.
    Yes, healthcare has shown us a changing business model, with offices for emergency, one-day surgery, limited outpatient testing, etc. in many places locally that offer medical services, but also on entertainment venues like the overbudget by $7 Million open air location opened this summer. (Will Hartford Healthcare be offering beer (and a shot, vaccine, or COVID test soon, to extend their brand services?)
    But with the closing of Park City Hospital decades ago, and repurposing of that property, the remaining two hospitals have stayed pretty close to their footprints, haven’t they? Names change but the ambulances get to the closest or most appropriate one through agreements, protocols, and technology, also available as apps on customer phones.
    So, why the need for a dominant sign with objections from the community? Vanity? Competition in the Board Rooms? What would St. Vincent say? Time will tell.

  4. So, can someone enlighten me as to what types of restrictions do the other cities in CT have?
    Is it strictly 3 feet? Or are some 4 or 5 feet?
    Does it depend on the neighborhood?
    Are Central Business Districts more welcoming to bigger signs where residential districts are not?
    Is Bridgeport playing catch up or are we being asked to be the trailblazer?

  5. Bob, I don’t have a Blue’s Clue, without getting Jeff’s vibe’s riled up, Stamford Hospital has a fairly large sign on its hospital. Jeff, breath, remember your zen, woosah 🤣


    Keeping with the woosah theme, I don’t know what the F you are talking about. I need a Blues Clue as to why OIB’s political pundit is addressing a seemingly irrelevant matter and attacking Healthcare provider, Port’s largest employer.

    I can understand having a political side against Joe, Mario, even Defilippo in some of the generosities granted on the grounds of political patronage or even corruption. However, I am going to need a Blue’s Clue as to why sound off on HHC, its CEO, or its business model or advertisement.

    I can only assume it seems more to do with sides than a sign. If so, how are these sides chosen? by lot, height, race, “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”?

    Where’s Steve and Blue when you need them?

    I stand by my 3D sign on the parking garage by the Arena and Amphitheater. You won’t get more advertising exposure, with 95 and a high-tech 3D sign.

    I don’t think anyone ever questioned whether healthcare is a business with a spending cost of 4 trillion annually. Can’t speak of the HHC healthcare business model, however, our employer base insurance model is willfully flawed and is going to be in its own takeover.

    P.S JML I don’t know what “St Vincent” 🙂 would say but I bet he would be Da Paul-ed with the vanity in the boardrooms. 🤣

    Keeping with the theme of healing. 🙂


    OR, come on people it’s not like you don’t know. BAM I’m out of here. 😀



Leave a Reply