Following this morning’s publication of a letter from first selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice regarding Monday evening’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, Patti Frisch–the petitioner whose application for a moratorium on AROD applications on Ridgefield Rd. was denied at that meeting–sent a letter in response. She asked that it be published today.

To the Editor:

Ms. Vanderslice’s letter to the editor looks only at the surface of what happened at the P&Z meeting the other night. I suggest that she should look for the reasons for the break down in civility. Yes, there were outbursts from the public at the recent P&Z meeting at which Fieber’s AROD application was continued and my Moratorium application putting a pause on any applications for high density housing on Ridgefield Road was denied. But the outbursts occurred for a reason. Mr. Fiteni’s behavior at this most recent meeting and at many other P&Z meetings on AROD over the past year shows his contempt and disrespect for the public, if not his bias, by his efforts to limit or shut down public knowledge of what is being considered or decided, by restricting the public comments to two or three minutes, by interrupting the public’s comments with contentious statements, by refusing to turn around to look at a power point presentation prepared by an attorney hired by Preserve Wilton to represent it at the hearing, by threatening to call the police when the public expressed its concurrence with a point by clapping, by attempting to disallow amendments to my moratorium application….the list goes on. It was not the public outbursts that were wrong with the meetings, it was Mr. Fiteni’s apparent bias and contempt for the public that was wrong.

With respect the most recent meeting, in particular:

First, Mr. Fiteni started the meeting with an obvious attempt to control the Secretary’s reading into the record of communications that had been received. He wanted only the request for the continuance to be noted and then he tried to approve the request without participation from the commissioners, set alone the public. Without “outbursts” from the public, the public would not have known that two letters had been filed in opposition to the continuance and he would not have even polled the commissioners for a joint decision. Even then, he never read or allowed to be read the letters in opposition to the continuance, nor did he discuss the choices available to the commission or the consequences of granting the continuance. Those consequences were fully known to him—but he decided the public should not hear them. We are left with those consequences: the new P&Z Commission will have to read and digest a voluminous record created over the past several months to have a reasonable basis on which to make a decision and they will not have heard directly what the public has had to say in opposition to the AROD application. The new commission will have just one meeting to get any direct public input about the AROD application. Yet Mr. Fiteni described this continuance request as routine and deemed it not worthy of discussion.

Second, when it came time for the commission to deliberate on the Moratorium application, the commission and the public were respectful and civil. Even when the moratorium was voted down, there was no outburst. That is because the commission’s deliberations had shown that most of the commissioners understood and had given serious consideration to the application. When they voted, a motion was made to deny the Moratorium and it passed. No outburst from the public. Only after that, when reference was made to the resolution, as if it had been adopted, did the public get involved. It took an “outburst” to get the resolution even read to the public. And when it was read, the “Whereas” clauses, findings and conclusions stated in the resolution bore no resemblance to what the commissioners had stated as their reasons for denying the application. It was so outrageously different than the commissioners’ comments in their deliberations, it caused a second outburst. The record of that meeting will show that a resolution was passed that was not even discussed by the commissioners prior to the vote. It is because the resolution was not the result of the commissioners’ deliberation and input that questions have been raised about how it came to be drafted. It is because the resolution includes statements that are inaccurate, legally and factually, that questions have been raised about how it came to be drafted. These are important and worthy questions. Someone should be looking at these questions; that is what Ms. Morron’s FOIA request tries to do. Does Ms. Vanderslice care about the integrity of the process or just keeping the public polite and quiet?

What has been made clear to anyone who has been attending P&Z meetings, at a minimum, is that Mr. Fiteni does not have the temperament or demeanor or respect for the public to hold any office in government.

If Ms. Vanderslice wishes to get involved in the P&Z meetings, she should attend and look more deeply at what is happening rather than just criticize what she perceives, on the surface, as a “lack of civility.”

Patti Frisch