Letter: Beacon Falls resident raises concerns about P&Z Commission

To the editor,

It’s 2020 and a great way to start the new year is by cleaning up the Beacon Falls Planning and Zoning Commission. The following should be alarming knowing that the Planning and Zoning Commission makes decisions that impacts the town that can negatively affect the residents and their property values.

In May 2019, commission Chairman Kevin McDuffie switched the broker with whom his real estate license is associated with to Preferred Referrals, LLC. The same person owns both Preferred Referrals and Realty 2000, the company selling the houses at the Tiverton Development, which was controversially approved by P&Z in 2018. This raises more questions than answers, and could potential cause of conflict of interest if McDuffie does not recuse himself from any future conversations regarding Tiverton.

Commissioner Lisa Daigle is also a paid town employee in the Tax Assessor’s Office. The Planning and Zoning Commission ordinance states “Appointive members shall serve without compensation and shall hold no other office of trust or emolument [salary, fee or pay] in the Town government.” This appears to be an obvious violation of the ordinance, disqualifying her being a member on the commission.

In August 2019, Commissioner Bill Giglio applied for a building permit to construct a barn on his property. When Giglio applied for the permit, he was behind in town taxes. Per town ordinances, no taxpayer in the town of Beacon Falls shall be issued a building permit if any outstanding taxes are owed to the town. Being a P&Z commissioner, this is an ordinance Giglio should be familiar with, yet violated. This also brings to question the integrity of the tax collector, Mary Anne Holloway, since she signed off on Giglio’s building permit.

Commissioner Stacey Betkoski also serves on the Library Board of Trustees. Library trustees shall make and enforce such by-laws, rules and regulations as it may deem proper for the management, protection and preservation of the property. That appears to make the trustee position an office of trust and an apparent violation of the ordinance mentioned above.

Mary Ellen Fernandes, clerk for the Planning and Zoning Commission, has failed to uphold the responsibilities of the position. The Connecticut Freedom of Information Act requires that minutes taken from a meeting to be made available to the public within seven days of said meeting. There have been times when she has been late filing the minutes. For example, the November 2019 P&Z meeting took place on Nov. 21 and when looked into a month later, the Town Clerk’s Office still had not received the minutes to publish.

McDuffie, Giglio and Fernandes are members of the Beacon Falls Democratic Town Committee. At the time of Daigle’s appointment to the commission, she was a member of the DTC. There are approximately 1,130 registered Democrats in Beacon Falls. This brings to question how closed off the selection process is before a suggestion is made to the Board of Selectmen to appoint an individual to a board. I’m positive there are other Democrats not on the DTC who would love to serve on Planning and Zoning and it’s time they are given the opportunity.

Shawn Styfco

Beacon Falls