Herbst files legal challenge to zoning change

Former First Selectman Timothy Herbst has filed a legal challenge to the Planning & Zoning Commission’s January 2 zone change that cleared the way for a proposed mixed senior housing development on the former site of the UnitedHealth offices at 48 Monroe Turnpike. Herbst filed the complaint on behalf of residents John Callahan, Jennine Gleason and Sara Mayer, who live in the Woodland Hills condominium complex on the other side of Route 111 from the proposed development.
The appeal, filed in Bridgeport Superior Court, seeks to have the P&Z decision overturned and declared unlawful. The plaintiffs allege that the proposed development could compromise public safety by placing an undue burden on the town’s emergency responders.
During the commission’s hearings, Herbst called witnesses including interim EMS Chief Barbara Crandall and Sgt. Robert Coppola, president of the Trumbull Police Union.
Coppola testified that police officers function as medical first responders and provide medical assistance until EMS or paramedics arrive. When asked if the department was properly staffed to handle the needs of the proposed senior complex, he was directed by Town Attorney Daniel Shopick not to answer, Herbst wrote. Shopick similarly advised Crandall not to answer similar questions.
Following the hearing, Police Chief Michael Lombardo and Police Commission Chairman Angelo Magliocco issued a written statement saying that Coppola’s opinion did not reflect those of the chief or commission.
“The Trumbull Police Commission reviews all Calls for Service and the types of calls monthly with the Chief of Police and his Administrative Staff,” the two wrote. “The Trumbull Police Commission is in constant communication with the chief regarding current and future staffing needs. The safety of the public is and always will be our number one priority and all police shifts are staffed at the required levels.”
In addition, Herbst reiterated his complaint that P&Z Chairman Fred Garrity had a conflict of interest in the case, having prevously done some consulting work for the company where First Selectman Vicki Tesoro’s husband works. Garrity later addressed the accusation, reading from a legal opinion that no conflict “real or possible” existed. Herbst, in his appeal, wrote that the legal opinion from which Garrity read was not part of the public record and that the plaintiffs were not given a chance to review it.
Finally, Herbst alleged that information regarding a moratorium on future rental apartment applications, announced by Tesoro in the days after the P&Z zone change, had not been made public during the deliberations and could have affected the final vote.