CHESHIRE — A controversial affordable housing development proposed for Hazel Drive received approval this week from the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The firm responsible for the development, Lamp Realty, has put forward a 144-unit plan for affordable housing to be constructed at 50 Hazel Drive, which has received pushback from residents in the surrounding area throughout the course of hearings.
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved Lamp Realty’s application to change the zoning of 50 Hazel Drive from an R-80 site to AHD, or affordable housing development, by an 8-1 margin. Only Commissioner Jeff Natale opposed the application.
“I just don’t think that during this pandemic, when residents are worried about losing their jobs, that this is the best thing to be focusing on right now,” he stated.
The property was a former nursing home.
Commissioner Robert Brucato stated that, while he generally supports the plans for the housing development, he believes that the 144-unit layout is too large for the area in question, a concern that many other commissioners echoed. However, those concerns did not stop him from voting in favor of the project.
While the development itself was on the agenda, Commissioner Gil Linder brought up another topic he said was related to the development.
“While the public hearing was still in progress I received several emails, and I understand other commissioners did as well, from residents in the neighborhoods affected by this application,” he said. “I also received a letter from a resident, and I believe other commissioners did also. … I subsequently learned that our State Representative Liz Linehan (D-103) disseminated the commissioners’ email addresses to the residents. These addresses were not made public by the Town.”
Linder went on to admonish Linehan for providing her constituents the email addresses of the commissioners, stating his belief that it was an effort to influence the vote.
While other commissioners said they had received emails and letters from residents, none echoed Linder’s accusation. Commissioner Louis Todisco pointed out that, while he had received communications from residents, everything he received is part of the public record.
“My constituents asked for the emails ... because there were no in-person meetings due to Covid,” Linehan said, when reached by The Herald on Tuesday. “I contacted the Town via email, told them why they were requested and by whom, and they sent over the publicly available information.
“If Mr. Linder has a problem with his constituents contacting him, then he shouldn’t be in public service,” she added.
Linder and Linehan have a history.
In 2018, Linder was admonished by both the Democratic and Republican Town Committees, with many calling on him to resign from the PZC, after he criticized Linehan for having “repeatedly wagged her victimhood of sexual harassment in our face” in a Facebook post.
Earlier that year, Linehan publicly discussed having been the victim of sexual harrassment while working for a Connecticut radio station.