Thursday, September 28, 2006

JI Story On Enfield Montessori Decision

Judge sides with ZBA, Felician Sisters
in parking lot dispute at Enfield Montessori School

By Jennifer Hoyt
Journal Inquirer
Sept. 28, 2006

The ruling by Judge Richard M. Rittenband could end years of heated debate over the lot, which has pitted two town boards - the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals - against one another and sparked rumors about the town's real interest in the matter.

The ruling settled a lawsuit between the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The commission and Zoning Enforcement Officer Wayne Bickley, a co-plaintiff, sued the Zoning Board of Appeals for overturning an order that the school stop using the area for parking. The Montessori School and the Felician Sisters, who operate it, were co-defendants with the ZBA in the suit.

After hearing from lawyers on all sides on Sept. 12, Rittenband was left to decide if the lot was being illegally used.

"This is not a complex case," Rittenband wrote in his decision, which was against the PZC.

The issue arose in 2003 when, at the request of PZC Chairman Anthony DiPace, Bickley studied old aerial photographs and site plans and determined that the lot had not been used for parking prior to when relevant zoning regulations were enacted.

The school is at 1370 Enfield St. in the town's historic district, where strict guidelines regulate properties.

In 2003, and again in 2004, Bickley issued orders telling the school to stop using the parking lot because it was constructed without the permission of the PZC.

The school appealed Bickley's second order to the ZBA in February 2005. More than a dozen people affiliated with the school vouched that the grassy area had been used for parking before the zoning regulations took effect, and therefore didn't need a permit.
The ZBA agreed. Two weeks later Bickley and the PZC filed their lawsuit.

At the hearing on Sept. 12, Matthew J. Willis, the lawyer for Bickley and the PZC, argued that even if the lot had been used for decades, school officials changed its use when they put gravel on it in 1992. That use required a permit from the PZC, Willis said.

In his decision, Rittenband said the court couldn't find that the ZBA acted "unreasonably, illegally, arbitrarily, or in abuse of its discretion.

"The court also finds that the ZBA made an honest judgment, which was reasonably and fairly exercised," Rittenband wrote.

If Bickley and the PZC want to appeal the decision, they will have to file a petition for certification with the state Appellate Court in Hartford, said Kenneth R. Slater Jr., lawyer for the school and the Felician Sisters. Once the petition is filed, a panel of judges will decide if the appeal can go forward, Slater said.

DiPace said Wednesday that the commission probably will discuss how to move forward at its meeting on Oct. 5 or at a special meeting. Those discussions will take place in executive session, he said.

DiPace said he wants to ensure that Rittenband's decision wasn't made out of sympathy, but was based on zoning regulations or precedent set in previous cases.

The Montessori School, which has about 120 students, opened in 1965, although schools have operated on the property since 1944.

The debate surrounding the lot has sparked rumors about the town's interest in the issue. Some supporters of the school have said that town officials who have business interests in the area are trying to shut down the school.

DiPace was adamant that these rumors were unfounded.

"What we're looking at is a safety concern - and that's it," he said.

Mayor Patrick L. Tallarita said Wednesday he has received over a dozen calls at his home concerning the issue. He and his children even received a few harassing calls, he said.

He stressed that he and other members of the Town Council weren't involved in the decisions of the two land-use boards.

"People don't see the separation of powers," he said.

Tallarita said he hopes Rittenband's decision won't be appealed.

Children and nuns celebrated Wednesday at the Montessori School upon hearing about Rittenband's decision, said Sister Anastasia, a teacher at the school.

"We are delighted," she said Wednesday.

Slater said he hopes school officials can now concentrate on educating their students.

"Hopefully this will be the end," he said.


Anonymous said...

You've made all these allegations and then it's over? Isn't freedom of the press just wonderful. You can sling sh_t and just walk away? If you have real information and your intentions were honorable, then they should be brought forward. Otherwise your credibilty comes into question.

Anonymous said...

Just finished throwing your book in the fire. If I read your credentials correctly, you actually did pass the second grade? Hint: Don't use big words if you do not know what they mean!

Hey Mulder, with regard to your conspiracy theory about Enfield; what angers me about your shoddy reporting and ill-attention to the facts is that low-life conspiracy nuts such as yourself, and your "photographer" with the CVS brand Instamatic camera, is that you all are not being more closley surveilled by the FBI. And that your facts are scandalous lies, perpetrated by nuns. Go figure?

What's next on your agenda? Defending convicted pedophile priests from ruthless imprisoned ex-alter boys?

Anonymous said...

We all know what kind of man you portray yourself to be in these blogs. Your semi-intellectual prostitution is worth a trip to the stocks. But since we are not pilgrims, I guess spitting on you is our only alternative.

But you, The Felician Nuns, you should be ashamed and embarassed that you conspired with this sordid man and perpetarted scandalous lies about decent men and families in our town. These same families that have supported you with time, money and heart.

Felicians, you may have won the legal battle, but you have lost all respect and honor amongst many in this town. There is such a thing as credibility, and neither the Felician Order or you Mr. Thibault have any left to salvage.

Anonymous said...

Thess comments are making me laugh! The nuns certainly have gained respect, and I think it is sad that you feel so exposed that you don't know what else to do but go after the nuns! That says more than anything. What kind of a catholic are you? Andy you have wit,style and are very entertaining to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Nuns 44,362 Politicians 5 but who's keeping score. You need some help. Your new technique of egging everyone on to turn over the dirt is just plain dumb. Be careful what you wish for.

Anonymous said...

I have followed the blog with great interest. If there is filth in the town of Enfield, Mr. Thibault ought to enlighten the rest of the township in court, with an ethics panel, or with someone at the state level. It is only this way that it gets cleaned it up.

Anonymous said...

The nuns have gained respect? Where are your facts? Donations have dropped off and even the parishes in town have begun to distance themselves from these "holy women". With this spoiled child routine, all they have done is ruin their reputation.

Stope talking to the conspiracy nuts and deal with facts. I am a member of a local parish board, the Felicians, with the help of this dim-witted maniac, have sullied our town and our faith.

Anonymous said...

Hey misinformed anonymous, there is an ethics board. Everytime a public official renders a decision it is at the scrutiny of the general public, the town counsel, and as many as two (2) review boards. And if that isn't enough, the State's AG has seventeen (17) investigators specifically assigned to track, monitor and investigate municipal dealings, votes and decisions.

If you have got proof, then pen the AG's office and ask for a review. It is called a "free and open democrasy". Else, I suggest you continue to sit on your toilet and expound rumors from your southern orifice.

Anonymous said...

I just wonder who "Jimmy" is in the grand scheme of things...

And why are the potential dirty people in Enfield all up in arms NOW? WHat are you hiding? What are you afraid of?

Anonymous said...

Who is Jimmy? I am someone who cannot stomach the thought of these "holier than thou" nuns using a miscreant the likes of Thibault and you to justify thier innuendo and unorthodox approach at maligning decent people. These same people who have supported the Felicians in all they have asked with money, time and heart.

Jimmy is not elected or appointed to any board or commission. Jimmy is just an observer who knows a liar when he sees/hears one. And these nuns, by use of this pseudo-intellectual from Litchfield, have perpetrated a lie that dwarfs the Monica scandal.

Idea? Hold a public forum and have Thibault be the moderator. Openly challenge these elected and appointed offcials based upon the innuendo and hearsay you have used in these blogs.

First; Thibault is a coward and will not particpate. Second; you haven't the fortitude to confront and back up your words. And three; you, Thibault and the Felicians will be exposed for the jealous-riddled liars you are.


Anonymous said...

What church do you go to since the donations haven't dropped in my church? If the parishes were distancing themselves then why did every parish in Enfield hand out the nuns pflyer and at every mass? You are living in a different Enfield than the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy--Writes like Dave, sounds like Dave must be Dave.

Anonymous said...

This is only the tip of the ice berg regarding enfields corrupt democrats, unbelievable that the corruption would lead them to attack nuns, God bless you for bringing this to light.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Tallaita is such a con man....he says ""People don't see the separation of powers," he town council, which is controlled by his democrats, appoint the planning zoning board, thats a separation of powers? okkkkkk tell us another one, how stupid does he think we are? If there is a God, he is surely not happy with the abuse the nuns are being subjected to, at the hands of the enfield democrats greed and corruption.

Anonymous said...

Why do I get the feeling that it is the same person defending the corrupt officials,no facts in defense are offered instead just immature name calling. How can you defend trying to run nuns and their school out of town? Enfield needs to wake up, and rein in their corrupt leaders and residents. It has been a widely known fact for years that this exists, and thank god Andy has devoted his time, and courage to finally expose it. I just wonder why the republicans sit by complicitly and watch it happen, those who know and do nothing to stop it are just as guilty.

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