Editor’s note: This column is cross-posted courtesy of The Cool Justice Report at http://www.cooljustice.blogspot.com/
Are Enfield Mayor Patrick Tallarita and Westbrook First Selectman William Raffa hearing the same voices about legal and public relations strategies?
Certainly they are drinking from the same magic fountain.
“I know people would love to have me investigated for everything, from breathing too much oxygen to drinking too much water,” Tallarita told The Hartford Business Jounral this week, upon learning he is a subject of a criminal investigation by the Chief State’s Attorney’s Public Integrity and Political Corruption Bureau. “These are political vendettas.”
Raffa, after being arrested on felony charges and asked to resign last year, said, “I got news for them – I can swim underwater longer than they can.”
Raffa awaits trial on felony charges accusing him of abusing the power of his office. The charges include extortion and coercion. Seems he tried to get an old business partner to drop a lawsuit in exchange for letting a housing development go through.
After swimming underwater for an undetermined period of time, Raffa was arrested again. In the second incident, he stands accused of impersonating a building inspector. Raffa faces two felony counts for forgery and a Class A misdemeanor charge of making a false entry on public records related to the second arrest.
Among Tallarita’s whoppers over the past few years: Big Anthony “Troiano and I are just neighbors … “
Tallarita somehow topped that one today, shocking the entire community as he told The Journal Inquirer: “I have a wonderful relationship with the Felician Sisters … “
That must be very comforting to the Felician Sisters, their students at the Montessori School and the parents. It must give them great peace to know that Tallarita and Troiano have no influence over Enfield Planning & Zoning or Historic District Commission officials. Certainly they never influenced anyone to vote a certain way regarding the attempted shutdown of the Montessori parking lot or the denial of renovations within view of Big Anthony’s historic vegetation, cabana and pool.
Everyone in Enfield must be so relieved by Tallarita’s authoritative assurance that the development behind the Montessori School proceeded under normal circumstances.
Lest we forget, Ridgewood Homes of Connecticut LLC developed a lot off Yale Court, behind the Enfield Montessori School. A map of the property among the Enfield land records states the following: “Not a buildable lot until required frontage is provided.”
Despite this barrier to development and the apparent lack of any demonstrated legal hardship, the Zoning Board of Appeals granted a frontage variance for not just one, but two lots, on July 25, 2005. The ZBA approved “a frontage variance of 43.1 ft. (106.9 ft. proposed Lot A, 150 ft. required) and a frontage variance of 11.7 ft. (138.3 ft. proposed Lot B, 150 ft. required) for a proposed subdivision of the subject parent lot,” according to Enfield land records.
What about the stipulation, “Not a buildable lot until required frontage is provided.”
“If a parcel is labeled ‘Not a buildable until lot until required frontage is provided,’ ” zoning expert Atty. Tim Hollister of Shipman & Goodwin said, “you have to change the lot, change the requirement or get a variance. The question is, was the legal hardship self-created? If that’s the case, then you lose and you don’t get the variance.”
According to maps on file at Enfield Town Hall, a significant portion of the property appears to be wetlands. A utility easement granted by the Planning & Zoning Commission on March 8, 2006 apparently allows development of an area including wetlands.
Sources said David Frederick has expressed an interest in buying another parcel, of about seven acres, next to Yale Court and the Montessori School.
The Golden Goose in this scenario is the 11-acre Montessori property, owned by the Felician Sisters. Acquisition of the Montessori land, along with Yale Court and the 7-acre adjacent property, would give a developer about 25 acres upon which scores of houses or a major condo complex could potentially be built. The combined properties could also allow for a right of way from Route 5 to a side street that already is densely populated.
Last fall, it became public knowledge that Troiano offered to buy the Montessori property.
Sister Mary Anastasia, who has taught at Enfield Montessori for more than 39 years, said she turned down Troiano’s offer to buy the 11-acre parcel.
“He insisted that we have plenty of buildings across the street, and that we could solve all our problems by moving,” Sister Anastasia said.
Troiano was not pleased by the refusal to sell.
“He told us,” Sister Anastasia said, “we would run out of money before he does,” an apparent reference to ongoing legal battles.
Despite all this, the good people of Enfield can take heart. The primary criminal investigator for the Westbrook case is the primary criminal investigator for the Enfield case.