Category Archives: Public Notices

Response to media coverage of Chabad case

Response to media coverage of Chabad case

On Friday this paper announced that “Chabad of Litchfield wins suit to build in Litchfield”.

This is hardly what happened.   Instead, the court told the Chabad that it could not build what it had asked for and was ordered to cut its proposed addition in half.

As the article reports,  this case started with events that took place ten years ago when the Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield asked the Litchfield Historic District to grant it permission to build a massive, two story addition to a small house it owns on West St.    The house is approximately 2,500 square feet and the Chabad wanted to build an addition that would be approximately 10,000 square feet.   The Commission denied the request without prejudice inviting the Chabad to apply again for something smaller.

Instead of revising its plans, Rabbi Joseph Eisenbach chose to sue the Commission claiming 12 violations of the United States Constitution, the Connecticut Constitution and federal and state law.   He sued the Borough and its Historic District Commission, as well as three individual members of the Commission.   He asked not only for permission to build his gigantic addition, but demanded damages of over $4 million, as well as costs and attorneys’ fees.

By the time the case got to trial, 10 of the 12 claims had been thrown out as well as the case against one of the individual defendants.   The Chabad withdrew its claim against the other two individual defendants.   The Borough’s trial attorneys successfully moved the trial court to throw out all of the Chabad’s claims for damages.   And the Chabad, recognizing the weakness of its discrimination case,  withdrew that claim.    Not even the Rabbi was left as a plaintiff.

What was left?   The Chabad was left asking the court to order the Commission to approve its application because anything less would be a substantial burden to the practice of its religion.

The Chabad argued that everything its Rabbi did was religious, so unlike everyone else in the community,  it should be allowed to build whatever it wanted.   Not surprisingly, the court disagreed.

After reviewing the evidence, the court adopted the Borough’s position that Chabad was entitled to build a sanctuary, classrooms and offices, a Kosher Kitchen and  Mikvah.   But the Court, refused to let  the Chabad build a 4,500 square foot apartment for the Rabbi.

(The court also acknowledged that the Chabad could build whatever it wanted underground out of site, another position never contested by the Borough.)

The final upshot?   The Chabad has to file with the Commission modified plans for a one story addition of approximately 5,000 square feet and the Commission must approve it.   There is no doubt in my mind that if the Chabad had filed such a plan years ago, instead of suing for millions of dollars of damages,  this matter would have been settled to everyone’s satisfaction.

The court said nothing about awarding any attorney’s fees or costs of suit, but, a federal statute states that a court “may” allow attorney’s fees to the prevailing party.   The Borough prevailed on eight of the counts addressed by that statute, the Chabad one.   It will be interesting to see whom, if anyone the courts awards attorneys’ fees.

As you may note from the above, the Borough’s trial counsel, Attorneys Mark Shipman and Scott Schwefel did an excellent job representing the interests of the Borough.   I was privileged to represent the interests of the three individual defendants, all of whom were dropped from the suit prior to trial.

James Stedronsky, Esq.

Borough Attorney.

 

 

 

 

Notice of Special Voters Meeting 10-3-17

Borough of Litchfield

Notice of Special Voters Meeting to Amend the Budget

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Special Meeting of the Voters and Electors of the Borough of Litchfield will be held on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, at 5:45 p.m. at the Borough Office, 28 Russell St., Litchfield, Connecticut to consider and act upon two recommendations by the Borough’s Board of Warden & Burgesses acting as the Borough’s Board of Finance to Amend the 2017 – 2018 Fiscal Year Budget:

1) To increase the expenditures line item “Legal, Code and Consulting” by $60,000; i.e. from $30,000 to $90,000.

2)  To increase the income line item of “General Funds – Transfer In” by $60,000;  i.e. from $88,552 to $148,552.

Excerpt from 9-12-17 BoardMinutes explaining reason for Oct. 3rd Voter’s Meeting

Notice of Annual Borough Budget Meeting

The Annual Meeting of the voters and electors of the Borough of Litchfield will be held on Tuesday, June 6, 2017, at 5:45 p.m. at the Borough Office, 28 Russell St., Litchfield, Connecticut to consider and act upon two recommendations by the Borough’s Board of Warden & Burgesses acting as the Borough’s Board of Finance:  1) the Borough Budget for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year; 2) and to authorize the transfer of $70,000 from General Funds to the Reserve Fund for Capital and Nonrecurring Expenditures and to allocate such amount to “Borough Sidewalk Projects”.  A copy of the proposed Borough budget is available at the Litchfield Town Clerk’s Office in Town Hall or online at www.boroughoflitchfield.org.

The 2017-2018 proposed budget is available for download by clicking on the link below.

Budget 2017-2018 Draft&LegalNotice

 

Borough of Litchfield Voters Special Meeting – April 11th, 2017

A Special Meeting of the legal Voters of the Borough of Litchfield will be held on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. at the Borough Office, 28 Russell St., Litchfield, Connecticut to take action on a recommendation to the Voters by the Borough Board of Warden & Burgesses (acting as the Borough’s Board of Finance). The recommendation is: that the entire current balance (approx. $73,000.) of the Borough’s Reserve Fund for Capital and Non-Recurring Expenditures be allocated to “Borough Sidewalk Projects”. (Tentative Board plans is that the next sidewalk project be the sidewalk on the south-side of the West Street.)

Snow and Ice Removal Notice

Snow and Ice Removal

The Litchfield Board of Warden and Burgesses would like to remind Borough residents that, according to Article III Sec. 95-7 and 95-8 of the Borough Code, The owner, agent of the owner or occupant of any building or land bordering upon any street, park or public place within the Borough of Litchfield, except crosswalks and park walks, where there is a sidewalk shall cause to be removed therefrom any and all snow, sleet and ice within eight (8) hours after sunrise, when the same shall have fallen in the night, and whenever any such sidewalk or any part thereof shall be covered with ice, the owner, agent or occupant of the building or lot adjacent thereto shall, within one (1) hour thereafter during the daytime or within one (1) hour after sunrise when it falls during the night, cause such sidewalk to be made safe and convenient by removing the ice therefrom or by covering the same with sand or other suitable substance.

Failure to comply will result in the Borough sidewalk committee ordering the cleaning and sanding of the sidewalk and a 25% surcharge will be added to the cost to be paid by the owner or occupant.

For further information, please visit the Borough website at www.boroughoflitchfield.org or call Gerry Perusse at 860 567-5640.