Stamford rep seeks review of zoning board members amid over-development concerns
Updated 6:26 pm, Thursday, June 15, 2017
STAMFORD — A city representative who proposed a sweeping moratorium on large residential developments is seeking to have the Zoning Board answer to legislators amid concerns of congestion and overcrowding in some Stamford neighborhoods.
Rep. Carl Franzetti, R-14, submitted an item to the Steering Committee of the Board of Representatives this month that would summon the land-use body to appear before the Appointments Committee to discuss members’ “activities, accomplishments, concerns and visions for zoning in the city.”
“I want to bring them in and have them speak to us so we can tell them what we hear from our constituents and they can share their thoughts and concerns,” Franzetti said in an interview Thursday.
The proposal was approved by a slim margin with adjustments to the language to remove “activities and accomplishments” from the text and will likely appear on the Appointments Committee’s next agenda.
When it appeared on the Steering Committee’s agenda this week, however, it was redirected to the Land Use Committee for review. This sparked a lively debate as Franzetti’s initial intent was to have the Zoning Board — which has recently been criticized by residents who say their concerns about congestion and over-building are ignored — answer to the elected committee tasked with vetting mayoral appointments.
Board president Randall Skigen, D-19, defended his decision to reclassify the item, noting that the land-use committee has more expertise with zoning rules.
“That is my prerogative as president,” Skigen said during the meeting.
The rest of the committee appeared to be fairly split on where the item should be reviewed. Annie Summerville, D-6 and co-chairwoman of the Appointments Committee, said she was “offended” that the review was redirected to Land Use, stating that her committee has sought to resolve disputes on appointed boards and commissions in the past without incident.
“I am very well equipped to give a fair hearing and discussion” to the Zoning Board, she said.
Harry Day, R-13 and chairman of the Land Use Committee, said Appointment Committee reviews are reserved for vetting an appointee’s qualifications prior to taking the seat. Day also took umbrage with the notion of a Board of Representatives review of the Zoning Board, as its autonomy is protected by state statute.
This independence from Board of Representatives was proven earlier this month when the city’s legal department ruled that only the Zoning Board could enforce Franzetti’s proposal to impose a moratorium on all multifamily and mixed-use development building permits.
After considerable discussion, Franzetti’s proposal to bring the Zoning Board in for review was moved back from Land Use to Appointments by just one vote.