DiNardo wins brief reprieve on Fairfield 'farm' order
Published 10:26 am, Thursday, October 7, 2010
Developer Sal DiNardo got a temporary reprieve when a hearing this week on a contempt-of-court motion filed by Fairfield was continued two more weeks, the latest wrinkle in the long-running battle over his attempts to develop what he claims is a farm on Greenfield Hill.
DiNardo several years ago planned to transform 18 acres at 1159 Redding Road in the exclusive neighborhood into what he said was a cranberry bog, but in 2008 a Superior Court judge issued a permanent restraining order that also required DiNardo to restore three acres of wetlands on the property to their original state.
One requirement was that DiNardo submit a plan for restoring those wetlands, and when he failed to do so, the town filed its motion and a hearing had been scheduled for Monday. The hearing now has been continued to Oct. 18.
"The defendant came in at the last minute, at the 11th hour, and filed what he considered to be compliance" with the court order, according to Assistant Town Attorney Noel Newman. "They came in with something that they purported to be compliant, but I wasn't completely happy with it."
Newman said DiNardo also filed several motions to modify other aspects of the court ruling.
"I wanted to consult with the Conservation Commission about this," he said.
DiNardo bought the property in 2001. The town's Inland Wetlands Commission nixed a plan to build houses on the site, so DiNardo began clearing the land, claiming he was going to instead develop a farm there. The wetlands agency issued DiNardo three cease-and-desist orders after the neighbors, including a group known as the Wilmington Trust, complained DiNardo was destroying the wetlands. He appealed the orders.
Later, DiNardo said he planned to create a cranberry bog on the property that would include an extensive piping system. He contended that he was allowed to carry out the project under an exemption in town wetlands regulations that allow farming.
After a Superior Court judge in Bridgeport issued the permanent restraining order, DiNardo appealed the decision. The state Appellate Court upheld the town's orders. According to the court opinion, DiNardo failed to prove his project fell within the exemptions defined by the town's farming rules.