This could be the solution

Greenwich P&Z hearing

Greenwich P&Z hearing

From our Irish correspondent, this from Norwich, CT: zoning members held personally liable for screwing land owner.

Congdon was one of three defendants held personally liable in the case of Kenneth H. Watrous vs. Town of Preston et al, Congdon told the Board of Selectmen. He, former Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission Chairman Kent Borner and current wetlands board Chairman John Moulson were ordered to pay $3,000 each in punitive damages, Congdon said. A fourth defendant was found not liable, he said.

The 2010 lawsuit stems from a house Watrous built on land on Poquetanuck Cove, which the town claimed is in a location that violates wetlands regulations. The lawsuit questioned whether a local land use board has authority over a tidal watercourse such as Poquetanuck Cove, or if the state has jurisdiction.

The punitive damages are not covered by the town government or insurance, Congdon said, but the town government was ordered to pay $6,000 in compensatory damages.

The case, decided in New Haven Superior Court, could have large implications on wetlands enforcement as well as for any volunteers serving on town boards, several people at Thursday’s meeting said.

“It’s a horrible precedent,” said Selectman Timothy Bowles, who is also a state representative and a former town Conservation Commission member. “I know this case well.”

“There are going to be repercussions,” said Sean Nugent, chairman of the town’s Redevelopment Agency.

And there ought to be repercussions, just as police officers who intentionally violate a person’s constitutional rights should lose their immunity. Private citizens are held responsible for all their actions, intentional or not; public officials should at least be liable for harms deliberately done.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “This could be the solution

  1. Anonymous

    Any real estate news today?

    • No – board is shut down. Come back Monday. But in fact, this is real estate news, and significant news at that. If planning board members can be gel personally liable for their decisions it will put considerable pressure on them to act lawfully. As things stand now, these people can rule any way they like with complete disregard for the law and know that only the town taxpayers are on the hook if they’re sued. Nothing like a whiff of grapeshot to add caution to a hearing room’s atmosphere.

  2. anony

    Terrific news! The EPA blackmailed me years ago by saying I couldn’t build or effectively even USE 1/3rd of my “wetlands” IF they gave me permission to build a small addition to my property, even though FAR were in compliance. What choice did I have but to comply with this theft of my land. I wish I had sued.

    This artcle made my day. I hope this sets off a cascade of suits.

  3. Anonymous

    THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I SUGGESTED ON YOUR OTHER ZONING THREAD!!!! Sue ’em personally as well as professionally as a class. Sign me up, I will join.

    Hit ’em once, hit ’em hard. They’re all bureaucratic bullies, and a bully only responds to one method.

  4. Mickster

    “deliberately done” – the last two words of your post is the issue that’s probably the most difficult to prove.
    In most cases they’re guilty of plain ignorance or stupidity and, unfortunately, in tort, that’s not always remedied.

    Now I have to check my punctuation???