Facing lawsuit, TPZ revises wording for denying Giant Steps application
Updated 9:39 pm, Wednesday, September 30, 2015
The Town Plan and Zoning Commission has “re-articulated” one of its reasons for denying an application to open a program for autistic young adults in August.
The application from Neuro Integrated Development Inc. for 309 Barberry Road, an expansion of programs offered by the Giant Steps school for children with autism, was opposed by neighbors, several of whom showed up to hear Tuesday’s discussion by TPZ members. The organization was seeking to permission from the zoning panel to open the new program in an unused former school building on the site. It has since challenged the TPZ’s denial of that application in court.
The TPZ’s third reason in its denial of the application originally stated, “It has not been demonstrated that the proposed use is a permitted use in that there is no evidence that the proposed offices for charitable institutions will be nonprofit entities nor it has not been demonstrated that the proposed use is a compliant educational facility.”
The application included the use of the school building’s second floor by small, start-up nonprofits that could provide vocational training.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission revised that reason for denial to: “It has not been demonstrated that the proposed use is a permitted use in that there is no evidence that the proposed nonprofit entities will be charitable institutions nor has it been demonstrated that the proposed use is a compliant educational facility.”
“It was my comments which really drove this particular reason,” TPZ Chairman Matthew Wagner said, and he was the one that noticed the letter to lawyer William Fitzpatrick outlining the reasons for denial had flipped his comments around. “The point I was making was that not all nonprofits are charitable institutions, so we’re correcting this for the record.”
Zoning Director Joseph Devonshuk said he checked with the town attorney before the change in the denial’s wording was proposed.
“He said to check the transcript,” Devonshuk said. “The proposed reason is actually what was said.”
Wagner assured him it would not change the commission members’ original vote on the application itself.