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About 60 people turned out to the Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals meeting last night to hear their decision about whether a cease and desist order issued to the Dorothy Day homeless shelter at 11 Spring Street would be upheld.  The meetings have been tense, and there were several police officers on hand last night as the Board announced that the order would remain in place. 

 

Attorney Sharon Dornfeld, providing a requested opinion to the Board, said the question was narrow: whether the Zoning Enforcement Officer erred in issuing the order on the basis that there is no current zoning permit. 

 

She said the question is not about whether the comfort and aid provided is a worthwhile activity, whether the City supports providing assistance to the needy, whether the neighbors are being reasonable in posing the appeal, or if whether the Zoning Enforcement Officer was acting at the behest of a local developer.  She said all involved; Dorothy Day supporters, neighbors and City officials; must be given the benefit of the doubt that they are acting in good faith.

 

There has been some speculation by Dorothy Day supports and others that the decades old issue came up now because luxury apartments are opening around the corner. Kennedy Flats is a 5 minute walk from the 11 Spring Street facility.

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Students who attend Naugatuck Valley Community College at the Danbury branch will start classes at the 183 Main Street location on Monday.  Classes will then move to their new, 190 Main Street location in mid- September. 

 

The college is undergoing a major renovation of a vacant downtown building, leasing about 20,000 square feet at the corner of West Street.  The building features classrooms, computer labs, science labs, a library and lecture space. 

 

There are about 1,300 students enrolled at the Danbury campus. 

 

Naugatuck Valley also has shuttle buses running between the satellite campus and their Waterbury location offering students a reduced rate.  There is also free unlimited HART bus access for students.

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Route 133 in Bridgewater is being closed again for advance work on a state Department of Transportation project.  Route 133 will be closed beginning September 6th through the 22nd. 

 

A detour is being put in place so utility work can continue.  The road was reopened just before the Bridgewater Fair. 

 

The utility work includes replacing some 3,000 feet of conduit and various utility vaults along with the installation of 25,000 feet of new fiber optic cable. 

 

The detour will route traffic along 133 to through New Milford.  Drivers can then take 202/7 south to Route 25 in Brookfield and back to Route 133. 

 

The DOT project planned for next year includes guide rail replacements in the area of the Lake Lillinonah Bridge.  3,000 feet of roadway will be fully reconstructed and the rest of the road will be milled and paved.

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An accident involving a motorcyclist and a garbage truck is still under investigation in Danbury.  The collision happened shortly after 8:30 this morning on White Street at the entrance to Winters Brothers Waste Systems. 

 

The motorcyclist, 45-year old Eric Ganser of Fairfield, was on a Harley Davidson behind a large tractor-trailer.  The truck obstructed the view of 40-year old Sean Scozzafava of New Milford, who was operating a Winters Brothers truck.  Scozzafava was turning left from White Street into the Winters Brothers facility when he struck Ganser. 

 

The motorcyclist was later transported to Danbury Hospital for injuries sustained in the collision.  A Danbury Hospital spokeswoman said that as of Friday afternoon the patient was still being evaluated.

 

Anyone who witnessed this collision or has information please contact Sgt. Rory DeRocco or Officer Keith Leggiadro at (203) 797-2157.

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Back to school should not be a pain in the back for your child.  Beyond Urgent Care in Bethel is issuing some reminders for parents about selecting a backpack for carrying books and other items.  Spokesman Sam Yates says with a little proper planning, you can make sure your child’s backpack does the job it’s supposed to do without creating pain or other health issues.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a lightweight pack that doesn't add a lot of weight to your child's load.  Yates gave the example that even though leather packs look cool, they weigh more than traditional canvas backpacks.

 

Two wide, padded shoulder straps; a padded back; and a waist belt, which helps to distribute the weight more evenly across the body, are recommended.  Multiple compartments can help distribute the weight more evenly.

 

Yates says because children are in the process of forming and building bones, it is very important to prevent spinal alignment problems.  Experts say it is a good idea to make sure your child never carries a backpack that is 15% of their body weight or heavier.

 

Yates is reminding parents that a backpack with wheels might seem light a good idea, but says they're extremely difficult to pull up stairs and to roll through snow.  Some schools also don't allow wheeled backpacks because they can pose a tripping hazard in the hallways.

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Chants of “shame, shame” rang out from the crowd gathered at City Hall after the Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the cease and desist order issued to Dorothy Day’s homeless shelter.  The order was issued by Zoning Enforcement Officer Sean Hearty in an effort to bring the shelter into compliance.  He urged the operators to apply to the Planning Commission for a special exception use.  Asked if Dorothy Day is allowed to continue to operate until the issue is resolved, Hearty gave a simple answer: Yes.

 

Attorney Neil Marcus says Zoning Boards of Appeal never overturn the decision of their Zoning Enforcement Officers.  But he said the Board didn’t do what their attorney advised them to do.  Marcus acknowledged that the ZOE was charged with a job, and takes that job seriously.  But he says this is a complicated issue and a lot of things need to be taken into account.  Marcus said that in his experience in the region, Boards would rather have the courts say there was an error, which sometimes they do, than to rule against a City employee.

 

Marcus says the Planning Commission wants to subject Dorothy Day to criteria that is expensive and unnecessary.  One item he mentioned was a traffic study.  Marcus pointedly said that except for a few volunteers, the homeless are not adding to the car traffic on Spring Street.  Part of the process would also include an analysis of real estate values of the neighborhood.

 

Marcus questioned why after 33 years is the permit question an issue. 

 

He intends to appeal the decision made Thursday night based on what he says is a flaw in the analysis from the Commission’s attorney.  A 1989 Zoning Regulation amendment made it so homeless shelters did not need a special exception permit.  In 2014, it was changed back.  Marcus argues that once the 1989 amendment took effect the Dorothy Day operation was legal, and grandfathered in.

 

Marcus noted that the building and the site haven’t changed in 33 years.

 

Attorney Dan Casagrande previously told the Zoning Board of Appeals in his brief that the Zoning Enforcement Officer has been trying to work with Dorothy Day and doesn’t want to see them suddenly closed.  The Zoning Enforcement Officer has asked, several times, that Dorothy Day apply to the Planning Commission for a Special Exception Use to allow the emergency shelter to remain open under a valid permit.  Casagrande also said that the reason the City Shelter on New Street received a permit that didn’t have a time restriction was because zoning laws had been changed before it opened in 1991.  Had Dorothy Day applied for a new permit each year as required, he says they could have been grandfathered in.

 

Spring Street residents are asking Danbury officials to relocate Dorothy Day to a non-residential area.  They, along with CityCenter advocates, are calling for Dorothy Day to work with the Continuum of Care and have police or private security monitor and control client behavior.  They say Dorothy Day has severely out-grown the location, as well as creating an out of control situation.

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The town of New Milford and the Library will be splitting the cost of needed repairs.  The Town Council voted unanimously on Monday to equally share the $70,000 allocation.  Mayor David Gronbach says the Library Board initially asked that the town cover the full cost to fix the elevator, which has been out of service.  But he says the Investment Trust Account, set up by the New Milford Charter, has $1.5 million.  Gronbach says no money has been spent to maintain the Library in recent memory from that account, including to fix a leak that was plaguing the basement.  The Library was looking to save money to invest in technology and to hold for a possible expansion.

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A Danbury man arrested less than a year ago for drug trafficking has been arrested again on drug related charges. 

 

Danbury Police responded to the Holiday Inn on Mill Plain Road yesterday afternoon to carry out a search warrant.  Police received word that 30-year old Aderito Mota was in a hotel room there and selling illegal drugs.  A woman, 24-year old Alexis Brown, and another person were also in the hotel room at the time. 

 

 

 

Both Mota and Brown were found with crack cocaine packaged for sale, drug records and drug paraphernalia.  Brown, who lists her address as city streets, and Mota were each charged with possession, possession with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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A former Newtown police sergeant who pleaded guilty to leading a steroid distribution ring has been sentenced to 16 months in prison.  Steven Santucci was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and serve two years of supervised release.  He must serve six months of home confinement and perform 120 hours of community service while on supervised release.  Santucci, who is released on a $100,000 bond, was ordered to report to prison on October 10.

 

Santucci said his drug abuse began nearly a decade ago when his efforts at the gym failed to give him the body-building results he desired.  He pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. 

 

12 people were arrested in the Drug Enforcement Agency investigation dubbed Operation Juicebox.

 

In his plea for leniency, Santucci's sentencing memo noted that since resigning from the police department, he devoted time to Habitat for Humanity where he has applied his newly learned trade as an electrician. 

 

The DEA received reports of users being infected with MERSA.

 

The Government's sentencing memo said that seriousness of Santucci’s conduct cannot be overstated, because while he was working to keep the people of Newtown safe, he single-handedly staffed a clandestine steroids laboratory and oversaw the distribution of steroids and counterfeit prescription pills. Authorities pointed out that Santucci used knowledge gained as a police officer to ensure that his operation remained clandestine. 

 

His attorney said there is no easy explanation for how an otherwise law abiding individual could get so deeply involved in the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs.  The blame was put on the certain level of steroid acceptance in the body building community.  Santucci got lulled into believing that selling steroids was "not that big a deal."  In retrospect, Santucci's attorney says the former Police Sergeant now realizes that he got lost to the point where he engaged in a persistent pattern of illegal conduct.

 

The investigation revealed that between June 2011 and September 2013, Santucci made Western Union transfers of approximately $103,000 to China. Santucci also made credit card purchases of over $28,000 from internet glassware suppliers, including E Bottles.com. Santucci used the purchases to bottle the final products and to label them.

 

Santucci was accused of providing co-defendant Jason Chickos with steroid orders in the Police Department itself.  Santucci and the former Newtown Police civilian dispatcher engaged in the following text message exchange:

Chickos added three bottles of Vanazolol, two bottles of Sustanon, a single bottle of Dianabol, and four bottles of Winstrol to his previous steroid order.

 

In addition to his salary deposits, Santucci made approximately $244,391.00 in cash deposits into his account with bank tellers, and deposited a further $46,514.00 into his bank account by ATM; these non-salary deposits were the proceeds of narcotic and counterfeit prescription drug sales.

 

From April 2011 through November 2014, Santucci charged approximately $310,648.92  on two credit cards. Included in his charges were international travel to Europe, South America and Africa along with stays at a Four Seasons Resort, Grand Hyatt and Ritz Carlton hotels.  Over $30,000 was for a single African safari for Santucci and his wife, and $25,818 spent on Celebrity Cruises.

 

An analysis of Santucci’s bank deposits shows that his net take-home salary actually decreased as the conspiracy progressed; relinquishing overtime work for the lavish vacations. 

 

Santucci, who was not the department's spokesman, was quoted in the media after the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  The Government's sentencing memo revealed that on December 14, 2012, Santucci was skiing.

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There is a Special Town Meeting in New Fairfield tonight.  Residents will be voting on three ordinances.  One is an update to the Code of Ethics

 

New Fairfield's Code of Ethics was crafted before the state had one and residents will be voting on minor changes to bring the town ordinance into compliance with state statute.  The law is not currently clear, but the proposal would make complaints confidential unless the ethics committee determines that there is a violation. 

 

Residents will also be voting on a stormwater ordinance.  The stormwater ordinance is being proposed because of previous safety concerns about icing and other damage to the roads. 

 

Several steps for remediation are outlined in the draft.  The first step is a citation providing written notice of the violation.  If the violation isn't fix within a reasonable amount of time, a fine of up to $250 can be issued.  If the violation isn't cleared up, the town will be allowed onto the property to make the corrections, at the homeowner's expense.  The ordinance also requires a homeowner looking to connect to the town's stormwater drainage system to get a permit. 

 

A blight ordinance is being proposed for the third time in New Fairfield.  The first two times, it failed because the language was overly broad.  First Selectman Susan Chapman says they receive a few complaints of blighted properties and right now town departments don't have the authority to force homeowners to clean up their properties. 

 

Examples included in the proposal include unsightly or excessive amounts of debris, refuse or excavated material, infestation by rodents or other pests, and excessively overgrown lawns or yards.  There is an exception for properties that are being regularly maintained such as a meadow or natural area. 

 

The Special Town Meeting tonight is 7 o'clock in the community room of the Senior Center.

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A Connecticut man is facing charges after authorities say he distributed heroin that led to an overdose death.

32-year-old James Hayes, of Waterbury, was arrested earlier Monday.  He's charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of heroin and conspiracy to distribute heroin.

U.S. Attorney spokesman Tom Carson says police responded to a home in Monroe on June 16th for a reported overdose. Officers found a 32-year-old woman unresponsive on her bedroom floor. She was later pronounced dead.

Investigators say Hayes distributed the heroin the victim consumed shortly before her death.

The case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad, Monroe Police Department and Waterbury Police Department.  The Task Force includes participants from the New Haven, Hamden, Greenwich, Shelton, Bristol, Vernon, Wilton, Milford, Monroe, Fairfield and Manchester Police Departments, and the Connecticut State Police.

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Senator Chris Murphy hosted a roundtable discussion in Danbury Wednesday on a new education law repealing No Child Left Behind.  Murphy helped author the Every Students Succeeds Act, which passed last year.  He says it will improve educational achievement, reform school disciplinary practices, and support underperforming schools. Murphy met with the Danbury educators to learn firsthand about their needs and concerns, and to hear feedback on what he can do to support teachers.

 

Murphy says the law gets the federal government out of the business of determining what a good school is, what performance measures should be and what to do to turn around bad schools.  He says it leaves the decisions up to the state.  He says there still needs to be some accountability to make sure kids are performing.  A good school isn't just going to be based on a test anymore.  He called it a more comprehensive way of thinking.

 

Teachers told Murphy that they are concerned with a subset of kids who've been through traumatic experiences, have learning disabilities and are just learning to speak English.  They want to make sure that the performance standard wasn't something these kids can't meet, but rather based around growth.  He says making progress every year is a good benchmark. 

 

Murphy says the new law recognizes that the rates of growth are going to be different because there are more non-English speakers than ever before.  One administrator talked about a teen entering Danbury High School who moved to the country and had never had formal schooling before.  22-percent of kids in Danbury speak a different language as their first language.

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The New Milford Town Council voted five to four to list the East Street building for sale.  It was a party line vote with Democrats voting in favor of the list and Republicans in opposition.  The Town Council received a report last week with two scenarios for the property. 

 

While there has been interest in the property for assisted living,  Mayor David Gronbach says he would like to see what other proposals are presented. 

 

He will be issuing a Request for Proposals for the East Street Property and will then present the Town Council with the most promising ones, and a recommendation.  

 

The Board of Education and Youth Agency, which currently use the East Street Building, could be moved to the former Pettibone School.

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If you've lost an item in Bethel or had something stolen from you--the item could be at the Bethel Police Department.  On Saturday, Police are holding a public viewing of found property as well as evidence recovered in criminal cases where the owner is unknown.  Members of the public are encouraged to attend to view the property. You must provide documentation of ownership.  The viewing is on Saturday at the Bethel Police Station from 8am to noon.

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An agreement to resolve an insurance issue in New Milford has been reached.  Children's Center and two employee from Center Cemetery are currently on the town's health insurance plan.  The town's attorney said they could not legally stay on the Town's Plan, which is limited to Town Employees.  Under the agreement, the employees of both would stay on the plan through December.  New Milford would pay the difference between what the Children's Center currently pays and the private Platinum Century Preferred Plan that they want through June.  Children's Center can then ask for an increased budget to subsidize the payments next year, which will be discussed during budget season.

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A Connecticut woman has been sentenced to prison for stealing more than $380,000 from her employer.  The U.S. Attorney's office says 48-year-old Dawn Mininberg of Easton was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to 12 months and one day behind bars followed by three years of probation.  The first three months must be served in home confinement.

 

Mininberg pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud. 

 

Prosecutors say she worked for a company in Greenwich where she provided financial services and was issued a corporate credit card for business purposes.  They say Mininberg charged personal expenses to the card, including for clothing, children's parties and lessons, charitable donations, vacations and an $11,000 jungle gym.

 

Mininberg categorized the purchases as business expenses.

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A former Connecticut elementary school teacher has pleaded guilty to charges she sexually assaulted a boy since he was in sixth grade. 

 

Michelle Sulzicki, of Oxford, was arrested in October, a few weeks after the teen claimed he and 29-year-old Sulzicki had more than a dozen sexual encounters and feared he might be the father of her baby after learning she was pregnant. 

 

Police say the incidents began when the boy was 12 and she was tutoring him. He told police the alleged incidents always occurred at his house often while his parents were in a different room. 

 

The former Stratford teacher was in court Tuesday on charges of first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and two counts of illegal sexual contact.

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The Connecticut Siting Council has held a public hearing in Brookfield on an application from Homeland Tower, LLC and Cellco Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless.   The companies are seeking a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance, and operation of a telecommunications facility at 100 Pocono Road, behind the firehouse. 

 

The tower would be about 150 feet tall.

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn told the Board of Finance at their meeting this month that the hearing went well.  He spoke in favor of the proposal. 

 

One of the issues that came up though was the back up power supply.  Brookfield wants to piggy back off of Verizon and use their generator for the fire, police and emergency medical services antenna.  Dunn says right now Verizon had not planned to do that, but it doesn't make sense for the town to put two, three or four generators on the site.  Dunn says they are figuring out a way to share the power source. 

 

A Board of Finance member noted that the fire department has an emergency generator on site.  Dunn says they did think of that, but then there could be voltage drops and it is 100 feet away so they'd have to dig up parking lot in order to put in a connection to the antenna.  Dunn added that it would be cheaper to put a new generator on site.

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The detour at Route 53 in Redding will come to an end on Friday afternoon.  When the state Department of Transportation closed the road at Umpawaug Road, the work was slated to wrap up Tuesday.  The weather cooperated for the most part, but there was a slight delay.  The bridge carries traffic over a brook and was built in 1928.  A 21-foot section was rebuilt so that there can be 12-foot travel lanes and 4 foot shoulders in each direction.  Some other minor safety improvements were also completed.  There will be some alternating one way traffic through mid-September for minor work including tree replanting.

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Connecticut's congressional delegation is urging the U.S. Navy to suspend any possible plans to shift maintenance of the Marine One presidential helicopter fleet from Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford to a facility in Florida.  Senator Richard Blumenthal and others sent a letter Monday to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus urging him to conduct a "thorough review". 

 

Republican Senate candidate Dan Carter said outrage after the fact is only lip-service. 

 

Carter, who is challenging Blumenthal in November, says the Senator should instead write to Governor Malloy and Democrats in the legislature asking them to embrace economic policies that make Connecticut a better place to grow business and create jobs.

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