The lawyer for Concerned Citizens is threatening to sue the town again unless Redniss & Meade, the town's environmental monitor at the Fairfield Metro development, "is immediately required to report directly to the (town) conservation director."
George Bisacca's Aug. 31 letter to First Selectman Michael Tetreau said unless that happens and the environmental consultant submits "any and all" reports to Conservation Director Thomas Steinke, the citizens' group is ready to bring action to force the removal of both Redniss & Meade and the Inland Wetlands Agency from their roles in the project, which includes the town's recently completed third railroad station.
Bisacca also states that Redniss & Meade must be told "it has no authority to submit any recommendation to the (Inland Wetlands Agency) concerning Blackrock Realty's request without the express approval of the director who is responsible for any such recommendations."
Blackrock Realty, the developer of the private portion of the Fairfield Metro project, has requested approval from town boards to change a retail building proposed for the site to an apartment building.
Redniss & Meade was first appointed to monitor the site in 2007 when then-First Selectman Kenneth Flatto removed the town's conservation staff from their traditional environmental oversight of the project. Gary Weddle, a former Conservation Commission chairman, was hired as the wetlands compliance office. Those actions were later ratified by the Conservation Commission, but the Concerned Citizens filed a successful lawsuit challenging Weddle's appointment.
In an Aug. 22 memo to Stienke, Inland Wetlands Administrator Annette Jacobson, Conservation Commission Chairman Kevin Gumpper, Redniss & Meade, Gary Weddle and Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart, Tetreau said, "You are hereby notified that, effective immediately, the order that the conservation staff have no oversight or involvement with any activity involving the above-referenced permit is hereby rescinded."
The memo further states that the department staff "may have involvement with activities pursuant to said permit, in accordance with normal procedures and directives of the Conservation Commission."
Tetreau also said that given the fact that Redniss & Meade has been "involved with this project for a considerable time, and are intimately famliar with it, and the railroad station portion of the project is virtually complete, it would not be prudent to remove them from their position at this time." He said Redniss & Meade will stay on as the monitor, compliance review officer and work coordinator for the project "until further notice, serving under the general supervision of the conservation director, who shall perform duties as directed by the Conservation Commission."
Bisacca, however, said Tetreau's memo raises issues that may conflict with the directives contained in the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the Concerned Citizens' challenge.
For example, he said, only the commisison has the authority to engage employees or consultants under the charter so Tetreau's directive must only mean that the firm "shall remain" under the appointment made by Inland Wetlands in March 2008. Bisacca further said that Redniss & Meade to date has been reporting directly to the commission, and not to Steinke, despite the commission's motion of Aug. 12 that the firm will work under Steinke's general supervision.
He contends that Redniss & Meade is subject to removal for "usurping the role of the conservation director as the direct supervisor."
"The Concerned Citizens would hope that your administration would comply with the settled law described above by instructing Redniss & Meade to perform its duties as outlined above rather than impose another unnecessary burden on Fairfield taxpayers for the same kind of costly litigation that should have been avoided four years ago," Bisacca wrote.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-556-2771; http://twitter.com/GreillyPost