Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Town Of Enfield's Motives In Power Play Require Explanation

Letter To The Editor

Many residents of Enfield were puzzled and outraged several years ago when the Planning and Zoning Chairman, Anthony DiPace, ordered the Zoning Enforcement Officer to file a zoning violation complaint regarding the school parking lot at 1470 Enfield Street owned by the Felician Sisters. In addition to the parking lot, this property contains three buildings used as their home and a school as well as approximately 12 rear acres of open land. It has been occupied and operated continuously by the Felician Sisters since the mid-1940s.

Fortunately, the Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously rejected this groundless complaint after taking approximately two dozen sworn statements from life-long town residents documenting the use of this parking lot continuously since at least 1944. It should be noted that many other residents were prepared to testify under oath to the existence and their continuous use of this parking lot going back to the 1940’s, ‘50’s, ‘60’s through until today. In addition, for years the parking lot has been used by the guests of neighbors when they have had functions on their own properties as well as by local police and fire departments.

Disregarding all these facts – the evidence presented under oath to the ZBA; the common knowledge in the community of the continuous use of this parking lot for about 60 years by town residents, partly because of its high visibility location right on Enfield Street and partly from personal experiences - P&Z Chairman DiPace, with unlimited town legal funding provided through Mayor Patrick Tallarita, filed a lawsuit to attempt to enforce this baseless claim. Fortunately, this past September in a strongly worded opinion, the court threw this case out.

During the all the years it has taken to resolve this issue, the good sisters have bravely stood up to this official harassment despite the emotional concern it has caused them and the numerous legal bills they have incurred. They are heroes. Everyone in Enfield owes a lot to them standing up to these official wrongs.

What was done to the sisters was at the very least morally and ethically wrong. What homeowner or business will be next in line for this treatment? If the filing of a so blatantly unfounded zoning violation claim, as in this case, by someone a position of governmental authority and, if providing the unlimited funding to endlessly pursue such a claim is not illegal in Connecticut, than no one’s home or business is safe in Enfield from these politicians. In the case of these Sisters, the powers of the town government were used deliberately as a weapon to harm them.

Unfortunately many other odd things have been occurring regarding this property in recent years. The sisters (Anastasia, Francine, and Carol) attended the October 16, 2006 Town Council meeting and asked several questions concerning the town’s behavior which if answered would explain the motives behind the town’s actions. To date none of the questions have been answered.

I am just aware of a small part of what has been going on regarding this property. We need complete and truthful answers from Town Hall. Those responsible must be held personally liable for actions beyond the scope of their positions including repaying the Sisters and taxpayers for all legal fees caused by their behavior.

Finally, the Sisters deserve an official apology and a “Thank You” from the Town Council for bringing this issue before the public and fighting to correct what has been done to them.


Jack Mancuso
Enfield, CT

No comments: