NAUGATUCK – The owner of Mountview Plaza Wines and Liquors is suing the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) over what he sees as a violation of the town’s current zoning regulations – regulations that could be changed as early as next month.
In November, the ZBA voted to grant a variance of Section 44.1.3 of the Naugatuck Zoning Regulations, which prohibits alcoholic beverages from being sold within 1,500 feet of another establishment that sells spirits.
Kevin Ploski hopes to open a package store on 5 Meadow Street, within 1,500 feet of Paivas Liquors at 161 Rubber Avenue, and was granted the variance to do so.
Saverio D’Archangelo, owner of Mountview Plaza Wines and Liquors, has filed suit against the ZBA for granting the variance. D’Archangelo’s store isn’t within 1,500 feet of the planned store on Meadow Street. But, he feels, the town should have followed borough regulations and not granted the variance.
Ploski was named in the lawsuit, along with Dennis Marchetti, owner of the Duchess Family Restaurant and the building next door, where Ploski hopes to establish his new store.
According to a copy of the lawsuit filed in the Borough Clerk’s Office, the decision was based on the belief that the Zoning Commission might change the regulation in the future, which indeed, it plans to do.
However, that does not mean the ZBA can preemptively ignore the current regulations, according to D’Archangelo.
“As long as the regulations are there, they should not be approved to open,” D’Archangelo said.
He said he’s not against competition, as long as it’s done in compliance with the regulations.
“I was just kind of hoping they’d just say no to the liquor store,” D’Archangelo said.
Part of his decision to buy the store, which he purchased in April, was the town’s 1,500 foot rule, D’Archangelo said.
He said he spent two years searching for a location for his store and walked away from a lot of other locations because of local regulations.
“I made a large investment in my liquor store and I’m just trying to protect myself,” he said.
D’Archangelo is seeking the ZBA’s decision to be reversed, and his legal costs in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the ZBA failed to find that enforcing the regulations would result in unusual hardship.
“The ZBA’s decision was illegal, arbitrary, and in abuse of the discretion vested in it,” the lawsuit stated.
During a Nov. 30 public hearing on the matter, ZBA member Edward Rachuba said that the hardship was the regulation itself, which is outdated and stifles competition.
At the meeting, ZBA Chair Charles Marino said that it is a hardship because anyone would be hard pressed to open up an establishment serving alcohol without being 1,500 feet of another one.
“The ZBA’s decision is not based upon the evidence in the record before it. The decision was biased and prejudiced,” the lawsuit states.
Zoning Enforcement Officer Steven Macary said he had no comment on the lawsuit, but the new regulations are intended to make Naugatuck more inviting for restaurants that serve alcohol rather than encourage more package stores in the town.
Macary said this is the first lawsuit against the ZBA in the seven years he has worked there.
“Our track record’s good,” he said.