A Zoning Board of Appeals' decision to grant a property variance to a proposed downtown liquor store drew concern from one of Naugatuck's burgesses.
The issue: whether the board was acting within its rules when it agreed to grant the 5 Meadow St. property an exemption to a zoning regulation — largely because the board disagreed with the regulation.
"We really have to be careful about some of these commission and whether they really understand the rules and regulations they go by," Burgess Mike Ciacciarella said during a Board of Mayor and Burgess meeting Tuesday.
Ciacciarella, who said he did not have an opinion either way on the proposed liquor store, said he was "shocked" to hear about the ZBA decision because it opened up questions of whether the board understood and followed the borough's rules for granting property exemptions. He suggested the board look having appointed commissions undergo training on the borough's laws.
"(This type of decision) puts the borough at risk in the future," Ciacciarella said.
The to grant the variance to a proposed liquor store, exempting applicant Kevin Ploski from the borough's alcohol zoning regulation. The regulation, titled Section 44, states no alcohol-selling business can be built with 1,500 feet of another. Since the proposed site was within distance of the and it needed to be exempt from that regulation.
The commissioners, who voted unanimously on behalf of the applicant, indicated the Section 44 regulation was a hardship that prevented the applicant from moving forward.
Mayor Robert A. Mezzo noted that the ZBA is an autonomous board with access to the borough's staff and legal council. He noted that the mayor's office has taken the position of staying out of land use issues.
Burgess Pat Scully echoed Ciacciarella's concerns.
"There are quite a few decisions that don't follow the law as written," he said. "Sometime we're going to get caught in a lawsuit because they're, at times, not following the rules and regulations."
Scully offered the idea that those appointed to certain burough boards undergo a course or two to know the laws. Mezzo indicated that could be done for ZBA or the Inland and Wetlands Commission, for example, but not for elected officials unless the Naugatuck Charter was changed.
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