Neighbors claim special treatment for development
A proposed age-restricted development on Huntington Turnpike has generated accusations of conflict of interest and preferential treatment of one of the developers.
The proposal calls for 11 age-restricted single-family homes on just under six acres on the site of the former Moorefield Herb Farm. Neighbors have opposed the development.
The primary target of the complaints is developer Matthew Reale, a local attorney and a member of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
In a letter to the Trumbull Times and Connecticut Post, a group of neighbors complained that “preferential treatment and unfair advantage has been given to Reale’s development group by town staff and commissioners” and stated that the town had conducted sham zoning hearings to allow Reale and his partners to build on wetlands without getting the approval of the town’s Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission.
“They clearly are using their connections to town hall to avoid proper oversight,” they wrote. “Any other developer or town resident would have to go before wetlands. An average homeowner in Trumbull couldn't build a shed on a property like this without getting the IWWC involved.
Reale said the project would be “first class” and an asset to town. The project did not require wetlands approval because no development would take place within 100 feet of a wetland, he said.
“Facts are facts,” Reale said. “Now the record is closed, and the commission will make its decision.”
Reale said the project was in “complete compliance” with all applicable zoning regulations. He said the project had been downscaled from 16 to 11 homes and to be a better fit with the property.
“We changed our application to do that [avoid the wetlands],” he said. “We sharpened our pencils.”
The Planning & Zoning Commission was scheduled to hold a special meeting on the project Sept. 11, but that meeting was canceled due to a schedule conflict with the town attorney. According to the commission’s Sept. 18 meeting minutes, that has not yet been rescheduled.
P&Z Chairman Fred Garrity, a Democrat, announced in February that he would recuse himself in order to avoid giving the appearance of a possible conflict of interest. Garrity and Reale had formed an LLC for the purpose of conducting a charity event five years ago, he said. The event never happened and the LLC dissolved, Garrity said. Commissioner Larry LaConte Sr., a Republican, also has recused himself due to a conflict of his own.