We received a copy of the following Letter to the Editor from the Friends of Brodie Park South (FOBPS) today, Tuesday, July 3, with a request that we post it on NewHartfordPlus.com. The original letter was in response to an article published in the Republican American newspaper on Monday, June 25, regarding the legal challenge by FOBPS to the use of Brodie Park South for football practice by the regional Football program; the article is not available online. The Letter to the Editor was submitted to the Republican American on Wednesday, June 27 and published on Monday, July 1. Specifically, the letter addresses two statements in the article; the first said: “… the group is challenging the town’s zoning regulations;” and the second addresses the statement by First Selectman Dan Jerram that the new zoning regulations (which came into effect on January 1, 2012) is for new parks, not existing parks like Brodie Park South. “It is not a new park,” Jerram said. “Brodie Park South falls under the old regulations which specifically permit the use of town property for a park and or playground purpose, by right, without a special exception or hearing.”
June 27, 2012
Letter to the Editor:
This letter is sent in response to Debbi Morello’s June 25 article “Football, Cheerleading in Legal Scrimmage.” The FOBPS are not challenging the Town’s zoning regulations, good zoning regulations are fundamental to maintaining orderly growth, protecting property values and regulating appropriate development in Town. FOBPS objects to the uneven way that they are being applied.
First Selectman Jerram remarked to your reporter that the new regulations are for “new parks” and that: “It is not a new park, Brodie Park South falls under the old regulations which specifically permit the use of town property for a park and or playground, by right, without a special exception or hearing.” This statement is unsupportable and incorrect both factually and legally.
An example of the proper application of the Town Zoning regulations is how the Town governed the Farmers Market that is held in Chapin Park, a long existing Town park. For the past four years the Market has come before P&Z to obtain a permit (as is required by the old regulations). This year, in a letter to Selectman Jerram dated March 14, 2012 referring to the Farmers Market, the Town Zoning Official stated that: “Prior to the change in zoning regulations (which took effect 1-1-12), only an annual zoning permit was required. This year, however, the change in regulations requires that a site plan be approved…“
The Football program has been practicing in a much newer park without a permit, a clear violation of the Town’s zoning regulations. In an email dated September 30, 2011, referring to Football’s use of a storage pod in the park, the Town’s land use attorney opined: “Because the POD is a STRUCTURE (actually, a “building” as we define it in Section 2), I don’t see how we can call it anything but an expansion of the use. While it may seem petty to require a Special Exception for a storage pod, we have no choice legally”. In the same email, he went on to advise the Town’s Zoning official “..…You CAN, however, just ignore the violation. As you know from past discussions, the ZEO is never obligated to bring an enforcement action even where there is an undisputed violation….”
This situation highlights the uneven application of the Zoning regulations. On one hand you have a continuing permitted use that is subject to conformance with the new regulations (the Farmers’ Market) and on the other you have an unpermitted use which the Town’s attorney has said is legally required to obtain a Special Exception (the Football program’s practices), and this use is being represented by our First Selectman as being exempt from both the old and the new regulations. This is unsupportable by the facts and the rules.
On behalf of
The Friends Of Brodie Park South, Inc.
Note: This letter was written before the Wednesday evening, June 27, Planning and Zoning meeting at which that Commission voted to require a Special Exception, with a Public Hearing to receive neighbors’ input, for the expansion of the existing playing field at the back of Antolini School, a town-owned property; see the video of this meeting posted on NewHartfordPlus on June 29.. This is exactly the same process that the Friends of Brodie Park South are maintaining is required for the intensified use of Brodie Park South by the Football program; however, the Planning and Zoning Commission is maintaining that their Commission has nothing to do with the use of Brodie Park South.