Zoning Official Paul Boucher has temporarily revoked zoning approval for a proposed four-story, 177 unit housing development on property of the former Testo’s Restaurant in the North End, a signal that a pending opinion by the City Attorney’s Office may not go the contractors’ way.
Developers Amit Lakhotia and John Gudes recently received a demolition permit to raze the structure, but Boucher’s order prevents anything else from moving forward.
A city legal opinion is expected to be released in the coming days about the zoning validity of the project.
Dozens of neighbors as well as City Council representatives of the district oppose the plan arguing the potential density is not compliant with the makeup of the neighborhood.
The developers say they will seek relief in state court if the city rules against the plan.
Statement from Mayor Joe 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. It is clear that the investigation to date by the City Attorney’s Office has raised some areas of concern and calls into question that initial Zoning approval.
I stand with the residents of this neighborhood and share their concerns regarding the 4-story structure that has been proposed for that site. I am in full support of the temporary revocation of the Zoning Approval pending the full written opinion of the City Attorney on the matter. While I have publicly expressed the need to resolve these legal questions quickly for the benefit of the residents, the developers, and the City, I also respect the need for a thorough and accurate review of the matter. Temporary revocation of the Zoning Approval is the most appropriate course of action while we await a final legal opinion and action by the Zoning Official.
My office will work with the Office of Planning and Economic Development to monitor compliance with the temporary revocation of the Zoning Approval issued yesterday and will continue to provide information to the public as we await the final legal opinion.”
Zoning letter to developers: