New Milford School Superintendent Michael Polizzi submitted a letter dated March 11, 2013, to the Zoning Board of Adjustment regarding the proposed development of the United Water property, according to Board attorney Scott Sproviero.
That letter -- undisclosed to the public, but said by Sproviero to include four areas of concern --was the subject of much discussion between Sproviero and Hekemian's attorney, Andy DelVecchio.
At issue is whether or not Polizzi has authorization to speak on behalf of the Board of Education since, according to DelVecchio, there are currently no public minutes available on the BOE's website reflecting their consent to have Polizzi appear.
Polizzi assured the Board that the BOE did consent to his appearance and it will be reflected in forthcoming BOE minutes.
Still, DelVecchio maintained that the BOE is a 'body politic' -- a public corporation invested with powers and duties of government -- and as such, they are required to appear in these proceedings through representation of counsel. DelVecchio stressed that any submission by Polizzi to the Zoning Board outside of an attorney's submission should be disregarded.
Polizzi's letter also raised the issue of a potential conflict since vice-chairman of the Zoning Board, Ronald Stokes, who sits as chairman of this proceeding because of chairman Karl Schaffenberger's recusal, is employed by the New Milford School district.
DelVecchio informed the Board that he will be submitting a letter brief to the board on the conflict issue with Stokes and whether it is his position that Stokes should recuse himself. In doing so, he also reserved the right to invoke a judicial declaration--start a lawsuit and let a judge determine whether or not Stokes can or cannot continue to hear the application.
Although Stokes said that Polizzi's letter will not prejudice his ability to fairly hear the application, he stepped down for the evening until a decision regarding this potential conflict is rendered.
"We've been hearing this case for 14 months, 400 days, 30 hearings," Sproviero said. "To have any event in any way render what we've done annulled at this point, and have us restart this, would just be an extraordinary travesty."
DelVecchio said that he found Polizzi's letter 'particularly egregious' since the BOE is within 200 feet of the proposed development and received notice when the application was originally filed.
DelVecchio said that also egregious was "the lateness of a position being hoisted into the record."
When Polizzi came before the Board as a private citizen to question the applicant's traffic engineer, Betsy Dolan, DelVecchio objected stating that he is neither a resident nor a taxpayer. Having allowed residents from other towns to speak at the hearing, Sproviero gave Polizzi the same courtesy while DelVecchio stated that he had objected to the other non-residents being allowed to speak to the application.
Stating that he has a vested interest in the safety of the high school students, Polizzi asked Dolan three questions, all of which DelVecchio objected to based on the fact that they had been previously asked and answered by the expert. All involved the type and level of traffic around the high school, as well as whether the widening of River Road would require taking any property away from the high school.
Receiving objections from DelVecchio, rather than answers from Dolan, Polizzi ended his questioning and stated that he will bring BOE counsel to the next Zoning Board meeting on March 28.