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Zoners Schedule Public Hearing on Political Sign Regulations, Again

Is the 30th month the charm? The public hearing is scheduled for March, making it the 30th month the Woodbury Zoning Commission has listened and engaged in discussions on political signs.

 

Woodbury residents will get yet another chance to weigh in on political sign regulations at a future public hearing.

Town Planner Brian Miller drafted language on zoning regulation revisions as they pertained to political signs. The consensus of the commission, at its Tuesday, Jan. 8, meeting, was that the revision represented a large enough change and therefore the public deserved another opportunity to weigh in at a public hearing.

The hearing is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, to allow for the draft revision to be brought before the Council of Governments and the Woodbury Planning Commission. The meeting will take place at the Senior Community Center.

The Revisions on the Table

Replace 7.5.10.I (political sign regulation) with the following:

"Non-commercial sign: (a) One sign with a maximum size of 24 square feet and an unlimited number of signs with a maximum size of three square feet or (b) signs as otherwise permitted in the zoning district, within which the property is located; whichever requirement permits larger or more signs."

Past Coverage

  • Zoners Lend Support to Political Sign Regulations
  • Woodbury Continues Hearing on Sign Regulations
  • Political Sign Regs — Or Lack Thereof — Topic of November Public Hearing
  • Political Sign Regulations: How Strict Should They Be? [POLL]
  • Zoning Commission Hosts Public Hearing on Zoning Regulation Revisions

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Palin Smith January 12, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Overton said that when two sets of rules are in conflict, it's the stricter set that takes precidence. Since the Connecticut Constitution is stricter in protecting free speech, for once Overton is correct yet simultaneously in contradiction of his own set of rules, "Overton's Law". On the issue of political signs in Woodbury, the Paramount Clause is the CT Constitution, US Constitution is 2nd and Overton's Law a distant 3rd. An easier interpretation is to compare Martin Overton to Lou Costello in that historic Abbott & Costello comedy routine, "Who's on First". Chairman Overton always ends up on 3rd base! http://youtu.be/Watf8_Rf58s
Voice of Reason January 26, 2013 at 01:19 AM
@ Sean. Is it correct that Martin Overton demanded that you stop speaking at a meeting a couple months ago? He said you needed to decide whether you wanted to speak as a citizen or act as a Commission Member or some such. I'm curious as to what actually happened. Why was he not called out for posting a letter on Patch, signed as Commission Chairman, trying to sway public opinion?
Sean M January 26, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Voice, I have been demanded to stop speaking a number of times. Jon Quint and myself are the only ones who vocally challenge Dictator Overton. He violates established procedures regularly. If the full members do not demand Overton do something, there is nothing I can do. Overton has to first seat me to make motions, though he has declared motions invalid before. There has been no discussion about the letter he wrote. It was misleading and can be construed as attempting to unjustly influence zoning activity.
tom arras January 26, 2013 at 09:56 PM
What are our selectmen's individual opinions on what Martin is doing? Why do they tolerate this?
Voice of Reason January 26, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Sean, I was under the impression that Martin Overton had acted similarly in the past. I was just surprised to hear how he acted with you after his writing of that recent letter. I know that I and several others certainly saw the letter as an attempt to sway public opinion.
Voice of Reason January 26, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Tom Arras, Does it matter what their Individual opinions are? As a Board (the Selectmen) I'd imagine that they should merely urge the the Zoning Commission to get their act together. I know that if I were in the position of a Selectman in this case I'd want to be careful so as to not come off as putting undue influence on the Commission or acting in a partisan manner. Hopefully the voters in Woodbury are paying attention to how certain Commission members have been conducting the business of their position(s).
tom arras January 26, 2013 at 11:57 PM
I feel it does matter what our selectmen's opinions are on this. At the Jan. meeting Alternate Murphy was bullied out of the meeting by the commission chairman stating something that was not true- to the effect that Mr. Murphy was no longer a member( alternate ) of the commission, and the implied threat was that he'd be removed by Overton's armed police officer if he didn't leave. Sean's absence following his departure left him without any possibility of his performing his elected responsibilities, all because Overton forced an issue based on falsehood. Elections and votes took place, and actions were taken after Sean was out of the room. I think Sean's power of persuasion could have affected the meeting, just as Overton's power of persuasion based on a falsehood did. Overton, as chairman, has a responsibility to run meetings properly( and maybe honestly? ), and should know that when he read section 311 of the Charter that Sean had not resigned according to Charter. Sean was served an injustice by Overton, and Overton is not Chairman material if he didn't understand the words he read. Personally, I don't believe that he is that stupid. I would think that our selectmen would want our various Commission meetings to be run above board and legally. I would also hope that the voters would want the same. This is an election year for many of the parties concerned and voters deserve to know their positions, so yes, I believe it matters what each of our selectmen think.
Sean M January 27, 2013 at 04:45 AM
Martin Overton clearly has an agenda and has overstepped the bounds of proper conduct. I have challenged him when he wants to push things through. Now he went out in the media and trashes me personally. In an article from the Waterbury Republican American from 01-13-2013, Overton is quoted as saying "it's in his (Murphy's) interest not to speak so frequently and to take so long making a point...It's just annoying. It's no value to the citizens of Woodbury." I guess I should just rubber stamp whatever Overton wants to do. I spoke up in December 2011 when a public hearing was started and demanded the entire commission see the legal opinion Overton hid from the commission before starting the public hearing. There was no discussion on the proposed regulations before Overton and his lackey Bob Clarke motioned to go to public hearing. Is it is the best interest of Woodbury residents to have all commissioners review proposed changes? I requested from the town attorney to substantiate his advice on political signs. The commission received a lengthy packet that I read cover to cover and summed up in the April 2012 meeting. I could not see how the proposals Overton wants to put in place satisfied the information Atty Roberts gave the commission. If I am not sure an action is legal, should I speak up? Should I research topics in front of the zoning commission? Or should I just go along with Overton?
Sean M January 27, 2013 at 05:02 AM
Or how about the Devino application where Overton demanded Mr. Devino show where the septic tank would be put, even though the regulations did not require to do so? I interrupted the meeting to make sure I understand what Overton was requesting and acting as if he spoke for the commission (which he has done for a while). Should the commission insist on information not required that costs an applicant money? What message does this send to the business community? The article stated "Overton said he has not spoken to anyone who values Murphy's contributions and interruptions." I guess I will not be receiving Overton's 309 Selectman votes. But then again, I received about 5xs the votes Overton did in 2011. Well Overton complimented me when the fish truck permit was given because I caught the fact that it was given a shorter term than the taco truck. I am not asking to have anyone silenced. I have asked and insisted on an open and honest process from day 1. I do not think that a chairman of a commission should be able to be involved in writing regulation changes without including the commission, and then obtaining a legal opinion and refusing to share it with the commission. Overton and the Democrat Town Committee are on the warpath to destroy me personally. Remember the Richard Snider "conflict of interest" complaint against me? Well my day in court is coming soon. They live by Alinsky's Rules for Radicals: attack people's credibility and character.
Palin Smith January 27, 2013 at 05:18 AM
Sean: You are already much more informed on Zoning regulations than the petulant Mr. Overton. You obviously do your homework. Overton seems to have his mind otherwise occupied. It sure would be a great catch for Woodbury if you were to overturn Overton at the next election and take charge of the Zoning Commission. Please don't threaten to quit again. You're causing Chairman Overton some hyperplexie. Perhaps at the next meeting you might offer him a couple of large ball bearings so he can stop playing with rubber bands and emulate Humphrey Bogart in the Caine Mutiny.
Sean January 27, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Perhaps the people of Woodbury should show support to people like Sean who stick their neck out. It is beyond outrageous that Overton used the police in the manner he did. An elected official called the police demanding someone be removed from a meeting that was elected to be there. Overton read from the Charter that stated he had to receive a letter from the town clerk and obviously had not. Why did the other commissioners, sans Mr. Quint, sit there and say nothing? They are just as guilty as Overton. Bob Clarke, John Chamberlain, and Ted Tietz have some explaining to do to the people of Woodbury. And where is the outrage from the community? There were 2 letters this week in the main print paper defending Murphy. Where is the Republican Town Committee? If people see it as wrong, they should be sending in letters to the newspapers. Outside the usual cast on Patch, it has been quiet. If Woodbury residents are so outraged about this, they are not showing it. Sitting and staying silent is no better than the commissioners who let Overton get away with his shenanigans. Is there anything that can be done legally? Is Overton's conduct legal?
putney swope January 28, 2013 at 08:44 PM
Irony anyone? The moral of the Caine Mutiny appears lost on those few posting mostly to each other. It's not about Queeg, or Overton, flawed or not. Could it be people simply just don't agree? And perhaps are afraid of being told by "bullied" and "misunderstood" Mr Murphy (et al) to try "Iran or North Korea" if they freely speak their opinion as Liz above? Could Mr Murphy's, as an "elected official", and others' words here be more personal and trashy? Conveniently forgetting the Dec 11 meeting, where the chair attempted to advise an alternate who spoke previously from the audience and therefore should not both provide evidence in a public hearing and then deliberate, much less participate in the commission's decision pertaining to that same evidence? In a disturbing display of lost self control and petulance, Mr Murphy left the building livid and shouting; returned with paper he said was his resignation, handed it to the 1st Selectman; then confirmed again in writing the day after. Next day, only hours before a Selectman's meeting, he sent an email retracting the resignations. Why? If it was never to be filed with the clerk, wasn't retraction unnecessary? So none of the resignations from any position ever sent to the Selectmen were recorded by the clerk? Or just not this one? Any? Police next meeting? There are worse ideas. Sadly, too many see far too much, far too black or white. Now feel free to illustrate my point.
Sean M January 28, 2013 at 09:53 PM
This misses a number of very key points. 1. Overton stated in the past that the commission cannot consider information not brought up in the public hearing, which is not accurate. 2. Memo from February 9, 2012 from Town Planner Brian Miller, given to the Zoning Commission includes procedures for conducting public meetings. Included in this is: 8. General questions from the public 9. Public may speak in favor 10. Public may speak in opposition 11. Response from applicant 12. General questions and answer period by the Commission for further information gathering. Overton did not go to item #12 in this recent round of hearings. Overton actually voted against going to public hearing for these new proposed changes. There are a number of issues and questions that I have and have desired to raise for months. Perhaps you can discuss how Overton and his lackey Bob Clarke ignored Art McNally's letter discussing whether the Zoning Commission even had the legal authority to regulate political signs. He and Clarke were reading other material during the reading of the letter, of which Mr. McNally furnished copies of. Perhaps you can ask Overton why he read from the Charter that stated he had to receive a copy of a resignation letter that he refused to furnish because he never received it. It was he who brought this point up.
Sean M January 28, 2013 at 10:02 PM
But then again Overton does what he wants, regardless of the rules. In the January 2012 meeting, Overton violated the Charter by refusing to hold an election for officers. Did I handle the December situation in the best way? No. I did what I did and am responsible for my actions. I am fed up with Overton and his shenanigans. I have shown over and over again how he violates accepted procedures and abuses his position. I am tired of the rest of the commission allowing Overton to get away with this. He has no business being chairman because of his repeated abuses of power. Overton represents everything wrong with government in America today. People can fairly criticize me getting as upset as I do. That is fair. But if you do that, then it is just as fair to find out WHY I am upset. Take me out of the picture and look at what is going on. I will tell the people of Woodbury what is wrong with zoning and what I see that needs to be done to fix it. I will not let Overton bully me into silence with the police, stopping meetings, degrading me to the press, or any of the other antics of his.
Sean M January 28, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Do you want a Zoning Commission where the chairman writes proposed regulations in the back room, behind the rest of the commission, obtains legal opinions, and keeps that information from the commission? Once the rest of the commission received all relevant information, what happened? They voted down Overton's work and started over again. Overton and Clarke walked out of the room, stating they were recusing themselves, and from what I can find have not filled out the required forms that the town charter require. I can go all night with Overton's conduct. He acts like he owns the zoning commission. He acts more like a dictator than a chairman.
Sean M January 28, 2013 at 10:12 PM
All this should matter to every resident of Woodbury. By having a zoning commission as dysfunctional as it is, it hurts the town. 1. By having the zoning regulations as they are, businesses are driven out of town. New businesses are hesitant to come here because of what they have to deal with. See my exchange with Overton over the Devino property (the barn on Main Street) as a perfect example of Overton demanding something of an applicant that was not required and cost the applicant money he was not required to spend. This behavior sends a horrible message to the business community. 2. The unequal enforcement of regulations is a huge problem. The Commission took over a year to vote up or down on the sign. They punted and punted and punted on it. In fairness, Overton was not there all of the time for the enforcement. This issue is more of a whole commission problem. Then you get into whether the new proposed political sign regulations are even enforceable. Did the commission ask counsel on this? Not to my knowledge. According to the minutes, Overton wanted to just vote them in without public hearing. All of this nonsense on zoning is some of the reasons why there is so much vacant commercial space in town. These issues and questions is why Overton wants me silenced. I research and ask questions. I have attended 100% of the meetings since being elected. I have gone back and reviewed what happened when I was not in attendance.
Sean M January 28, 2013 at 10:18 PM
I simply want an honest process where all 8 members go through the proper process. Given the group that is there, we may disagree, but we have a number of different perspectives. We do not have this under Overton. Overton is afraid of me because I am prepared and will challenge him. If someone is wrong on something, I will point it out. If I disagree with something, I will voice my opinion. We have a job to do. I take mine seriously. He has shown it is more important for him to control a meeting than have all opinions and perspectives heard. Overton and his small supporters will continue to deflect from the real problems at hand. Overton has to know that if the townspeople knew what he was really doing, he would not be elected to anything. You will see the typical conduct taught in Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. The focus of the criticism will be on me personally. Destroy the credibility of the person instead of attacking them on the issues at hand.
Sean M January 29, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Notice the contradiction in "putney swope"s comments. 1. Commenting on whether the Woodbury Charter was followed exactly by Jerry Stomski. 2. Not commenting that Overton read from the Charter the requirement that the last step in the resignation process required he receive a copy of the resignation letter. This is consistent with how the opposition in town operates. Demand one side follow procedures perfectly. But when your side clearly violates the same standards you demand of others, be silent on the matter. Perhaps putney should put his real name to his comments, instead of hiding behind a screen name. But then again, Overton does not have many supporters, as his 309 votes reflected. I will take one guess as to who this person is.
Voice of Reason January 29, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Tom - I understand where you are coming from but, for me, I feel personal opinions should not enter the fray. That said, clearly there is a problem and perhaps the BOS should indeed be involved. Is there a process in Woodbury that speaks to this problem with the Zoning Commission? Zoning members are elected, is there a way to remove them? Have complaints/grievances, if applicable, been filed properly? To be clear. I don't mean writing on Patch or catching Mr. Stomski's ear to complain. Is there a protocol and has it been followed? Perhaps the answer is "yes" and I'm unaware. Perhaps the answer is "not yet".
Sean M January 29, 2013 at 04:52 PM
There is no legal process to remove from an elected position. The only way an elected official leaves a position is they complete the resignation process or are deceased. Overton's term ends in November. The Zoning Commission can name a new chairman any time. Given that Bob Clarke is on Martin's side, that leaves Cosgriff, Green, and Tietz banding together to vote. Only Tietz was at the last meeting. We will see who is in attendance at the next one. The BOS has very limited power here. Zoning is a sovereign body. I have investigated everything I can. One of the challenges here is state law leaves an enormous amount of power to the local level, which can and is being abused in Overton's case. There are two different standards: What is legal and What is right. Overton violates the second premise regularly. It is up to the Zoning Commission to do what is so clearly the right thing. I suggest anyone reviewing the Woodbury Charter for what can be done and by whom. http://woodburyct.org/charter.pdf This is not the BOS's problem to fix.
Sean M January 29, 2013 at 05:04 PM
I ask the people of Woodbury: 1. Do you want members of a board or commission actively antagonizing other members? Overton and Clarke do it on Zoning. There are other examples too. 2. Do you want elected officials to come to meetings prepared with reviewing background information on the topics they face? Should members get information publicly available before the meeting to review? 3. If a legal opinion is obtained should all members of the relevant boards and commissions receive it? This was not the policy before December 2011 and thankfully Jerry Stomski implemented it. 4. In the event that a member is absent, should they review the audio and/or the minutes to know what happened? If a commissioner misses a meeting where a public hearing went on, should they recuse themselves if they did not listen to the testimony? According to a book recommended by the Town Planner, that person should recuse themselves. Martin Overton does not believe this. He advised a seated commissioner he did not have to. 5. When there is an application, should the commission follow recommended procedures from the Town Planner? Who knows better, an objective Town Planner or Martin Overton?
Sean M January 29, 2013 at 05:07 PM
6. Why is the commission sans myself and Jon Quint not broaching these topics? Do they not know? Do they read the material presented? Why do they not speak up on these topics? If you listen to Martin Overton, he will just tell you all I do is disrupt everything. He actually stated that I offer no value to the commission in an article from the Waterbury Republican American. All of the other 7 members have on multiple occasions offered comments, positions, and perspectives that add value, some of which I disagree with. This includes Overton and Clarke.
Palin Smith January 29, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Sean: Write your biography. After all, Obama wrote two before he turned 21. LOL
Patrick Ranaudo January 29, 2013 at 09:06 PM
You have prodigious support out here, Sean, in your efforts to rid our fine community of the neo-marxist antics of Chairman Mao, err, Overton. (Though I suspect robustly that Overton has no perturbation being likened to Mao.)
tom arras January 30, 2013 at 12:31 AM
I believe under Overton, with great assist from his echo Clarke, Woodbury's Zoning process has become corrupted. If other members of the Zoning Commission along with our Selectmen ignore this occurrence, then the corruption grows. We have been witness to this process already. If our Selectmen want support from those that oppose such corruption, they should oppose the corruption. After all, it's their Town! If our Selectmen support that corruption, they can continue to ignore it and the voters will hopefully understand and vote accordingly. For Woodbury to tolerate this is an outrage. We need leaders, not spectators! With the exception of the alternates, the rest of the Commission has been bamboozeled, or worse, and Overton bullies his way through. Maybe through this pathetic process he feels some level of self esteem, or maybe he's just doing it to control others. Its certain that procedures and Charter are NOT being followed under his leadership( for lack of a better term ), and that he needs to go for the Zoning Commission to get back on track. We have good people on the Commission, but we do need to cut out the cancer that is tainting it.
putney swope January 30, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Thanks for illustrating my point in under 2 days and 10,000 words. Saul Alinsky?!? The only rule of Alinsky’s not in the postings here is: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag” Otherwise, all 12 rules, especially concerning personalizing and polarizing are alive and well in Patch-bury. First, to be clear, Mr. Stomski did what should have done resulting from the misunderstanding of the law versus custom. The comment on filing resignations with the clerk refers to the past practice to which everyone mostly adhered. (Irony alert!) The Selectman’s meeting Jan 24 revealed Mr Quint was not legally a WZC alternate at the meeting he left left or the public hearing previous, as a resignation of the seat he took over wasn’t filed with the clerk. Atty Roberts called Mr Overton’s actions, in assuming that Mr Murphy had resigned, reasonable and legal. In fact there is no requirement to seat an alternate at all. Not illegal, not overreach. So why all the "illegal" noise? That said, Mr Overton could have led the past two years of sign frenzy better and looked for a way not to have the community dragged around for 2 years. No “small supporter” here. But in true Caine Mutiny style, where was the attempt by anyone on WZC, or those opposing Mr. Overton personally, to constructively work to end this “drag”? Concerned only about being right? Accomplish nothing. It's not just Mr Overton. There’s enough responsibility to go around on this one, Saul.
Sean M January 30, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Dear putney When you put your real name to your comments, then you can be taken seriously. But we all know who you are anyways. Amazing how so many words can be used and I have no idea what you just said. Sounds just like the tone Overton used in your rude trashing of me in the Waterbury Republican American. Assuming procedure was not perfectly followed to the exact letter to the law, no where worth the outrage as Overton knowingly ignoring the Charter in January 2012 and stating the officer elections would not happen. Overton was read the Charter and ignored it anyways, a common practice for him. Overton only listens to what he wants to hear. The recent Council of Governments Report proves it. Zoning was notified 2 years ago about what to do with political signs. Overton has done everything in his power to steer it the way he wants the town to be, completely disregarding the law. Amazing how of all the comments I made, you focus on whether there was a perfect following of a resignation. Ron Judson resigned and did nothing to reverse it. His intent was clear. As was mine. If you are so outraged by the zoning resignation situation, then be consistent and show the same or appropriately more for Overton refusing to hold a vote on officers. And make sure you scold Overton's lackey Bob Clarke and the other 3 members who either did not know the charter or did not speak up.
Sean M January 30, 2013 at 07:36 PM
This is a perfect deflection of the issues. The issue is about how Overton has abused his position for years. Now that it is clear, if the full members allow Overton to continue to be chairman, they are just as guilty as Overton. It is time to defecate or get off the pot. As for the concerned about being right comment. My sole concern is to do the right thing. I will continue on that. My agenda is to fulfill the responsibilities I was given by being elected. The dispute between Overton and myself is mostly over procedure. I believe: Every commissioner should have input, even if I disagree with him. Overton has shown over and over again he will gavel me down to silence me. Every commissioner should have the same access to information and time to review it. Overton has shown that he finds it perfectly acceptable to hide information from commissioners. Every commissioner should spend some time preparing before a meeting. This includes reading relevant material. I insisted on the background that Atty Roberts used to formulate his legal opinions and read every page of it, took notes, and read them back to him in April 2012 to make sure I got it right. Some commissioners on zoning (more than one) miss meetings, do not review the minutes, do not listen to the audio, and come in unprepared.
Sean M January 30, 2013 at 07:44 PM
I have posted a copy of the Council of Government's report for everyone to review. This is a body that has the legal right to comment on the political sign regulations being proposed. This is not the first time they have commented on attempts to regulate political signs. Please draw your own conclusions. Feel free to also review the November 2010 and June 2011 legal opinions on political signs, the lengthy packet furnished by Atty Roberts in March/April 2012. There is plenty more on file. Feel free to come to the Feburary 2013 meeting and offer a proposal as to what zoning should do. Should Woodbury continue to regulate political signs? If so, how. What restrictions should be added. I will always listen. I will not be like Overton and Bob Clarke and read something else when a member of the public hands them copies of a letter they are reading.
Jon Quint January 30, 2013 at 08:19 PM
Sean, pay no attention to anyone who is such a coward, they won't even use their own name. Maybe it's Overton using a pen name.

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