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Zoning Commissioner Plans Resignation After Heated Discussion

During discussions on the draft zoning regulations, the chairman and a commissioner talked back and forth before the commissioner announced his intent to resign.

 

Woodbury Zoning Commissioner Sean Murphy announced plans to resign during a five minute recess of the Tuesday, Dec. 11, Zoning Commission meeting at the Senior Community Center.

"You'll have my letter tomorrow," he said.

The recess was called during discussions on the draft zoning regulations. Within those regulations, the regulation of political signs is a hot topic in Woodbury and one that Murphy is particularly interested in.

Murphy wanted to share information he received pertaining to the draft regulations and Zoning Commission Chairman Martin Overton said that if Murphy wanted to take a position on this subject, he could sit with the public and do so as a member of the public.

Murphy said he feels Overton is excluding him from the process. Overton said he is not excluding him.

"I offered you whatever you wanted to do Sean, except you can't put yourself into the conflict of having defended a position as a member of the public and then adjudicating that defense," he said.

Murphy said he never relayed a position on the matter and didn't want to, adding that Overton is violating procedure.

"You don't have a right to shut me out of this whole process," said Murphy.

Shortly thereafter, Overton called for a five minute recess, saying he will not allow Murphy to hijack the commission.

"Hijack?" said Murphy. "You wont let me speak, you tyrant. You're a tyrant and a bully."

Overton said Murphy can testify as a member of the public.

"I didn't want to testify in the first place," Murphy said, turning to First Selectman Gerald 'Jerry' Stomski, who was in the audience.

"Jerry, are you going to, we have a legal problem here," Murphy said.

Stomski replied,"You guys have to work this out. I'm not a lawyer."

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Sean M December 13, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I will not be at the Selectman's meeting tonight, as originally thought. I will comment any further at a later date.
Woodbury Kid December 14, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Sean, two quick points. 1. "The town is at significant legal risk over its conduct of its boards." Please expand on this statement. I have watched the videos and think that in particular the statements made by the town attorney make the actions of the board appear to be inline with their legal authority. 2. While I do not agree with your position on the signage issue I feel your dissenting voice is valuable to the town. I am sorry that you have given up. I think it weakens the process.
Sean M December 14, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Examples 1. Overton stated to John Chamberlain the night of the West Chevy vote that he did not have to recuse himself. John had missed the previous meeting and had not familiarized himself with what went on. John was right by asking and Martin was wrong. This issue had come up before with the Montesorri school. Overton missed the previous meeting and was unprepared for the meeting of the vote. He started asking questions that were addressed. I pointed this out and he blew me off. Town Planner Brian Miller suggested a book put out by the state in the 1990s. I read it and it stated that you must recuse yourself if you missed part of a public hearing and did not review what went on. 2. Overton did not recuse himself under enforcement for Tom Arras's Overturn Overton sign.. That is a conflict right there. Overton did in April and told the commission in November that he had never recused himself. In addition on 2 separate occasions, Overton took it upon himself to demand Arras take the sign down. He had no right to do that. 3. Overton and Clarke sat and ignored people speaking Tuesday night at the public hearing. They were looking down and reading other items. Neither of them have been objective for a while and it showed. Recusal warranted.
Sean M December 14, 2012 at 01:56 PM
As for political signs, The restrictions were put in in 1996. Any discussion of federal cases is irrelevant. The matter at hand is the CT Constitution. The Town Atty Roberts gave a packet of over 100 pages of case law. No comments or testimony given gave any justification for the limitations presented. Free speech is a right under the CT Constitution and the restrictions on the books do limit this right. Woodbury has no right to do regulate signs the way the Democrats advocate. I have never had an opinion on political signs because I learned that Zoning had no right to regulate them as they did. Overton has cost the town tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills already. The town will be sued some day and it will lose.
JohnGalt December 17, 2012 at 08:08 PM
While I did not attend nor had a chance to listen to the tape, yet, It appears that Martin did overstep his authority. IF, as sean says Zoning follows the "Roberts Rule of Order". Roberts states: 1) board under 12 members in number: the chairman can make a main motion and get a second. however: Martin is in violation of Roberts Rule: 1)Rule 45 principal of debate: Main motoions are debatable. Only a high privilege motion is undebatable. 2) Rule 11A) No motion is in order that conflicts with the constitution, by-laws, or standing rules or resolutions of the assembly, and if such a motion is adopted it is null and void. Sean should have asked for Parliamentary Inquiry. A parliamentary inquiry, if it relates to a question that requires immediate attention, may be made while another has the floor, or may even. interrupt a speech. It should not, however, be permitted to interrupt a speaker any more than is necessary to do justice to the inquirer. It yields to privileged motions, if they were in order when the inquiry was made, and it cannot be debated or amended or have any other subsidiary motion applied to it... Martin has been presented with the CT constitution rules on political speech and has our attorney letter....yet he still does what he wants. the board punted again

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