Zoning Commissioner Plans Resignation After Heated Discussion

During discussions on the draft zoning regulations, the chairman and a commissioner talked back and forth before the commissioner announced his intent to resign.


Woodbury Zoning Commissioner Sean Murphy announced plans to resign during a five minute recess of the Tuesday, Dec. 11, Zoning Commission meeting at the Senior Community Center.

"You'll have my letter tomorrow," he said.

The recess was called during discussions on the draft zoning regulations. Within those regulations, the regulation of political signs is a hot topic in Woodbury and one that Murphy is particularly interested in.

Murphy wanted to share information he received pertaining to the draft regulations and Zoning Commission Chairman Martin Overton said that if Murphy wanted to take a position on this subject, he could sit with the public and do so as a member of the public.

Murphy said he feels Overton is excluding him from the process. Overton said he is not excluding him.

"I offered you whatever you wanted to do Sean, except you can't put yourself into the conflict of having defended a position as a member of the public and then adjudicating that defense," he said.

Murphy said he never relayed a position on the matter and didn't want to, adding that Overton is violating procedure.

"You don't have a right to shut me out of this whole process," said Murphy.

Shortly thereafter, Overton called for a five minute recess, saying he will not allow Murphy to hijack the commission.

"Hijack?" said Murphy. "You wont let me speak, you tyrant. You're a tyrant and a bully."

Overton said Murphy can testify as a member of the public.

"I didn't want to testify in the first place," Murphy said, turning to First Selectman Gerald 'Jerry' Stomski, who was in the audience.

"Jerry, are you going to, we have a legal problem here," Murphy said.

Stomski replied,"You guys have to work this out. I'm not a lawyer."


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Kristin Ingersoll December 12, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Wow. Was there any outcome last night for the seafood truck and the wetlands permit?
Todd Fox December 12, 2012 at 02:11 PM
I know. Damn! I knew I should have gone to that meeting!
Jaimie Cura (Editor) December 12, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Hi Kristin - the application by the fish truck owner was withdrawn.
Todd Fox December 12, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I always wondered whether Mr. Murphy's constant barrage of letters to the newspapers expressing his opinion on the zoning issue and of Mr. Overton, was appropriate behavior for a town official. Now I understand the consequences.
Kristin Ingersoll December 12, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Thanks Jaimie! So what does that mean for the future of the fish truck? Is he staying where he is now or is he leaving town altogether?
Red Rooster December 12, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Who's Overton and who's Martin?
Jaimie Cura (Editor) December 12, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Red Rooster, thanks for that question - I added in Martin Overton's title as chairman of the Zoning Commission.
Jaimie Cura (Editor) December 12, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Kristin, I just spoke to Anton Gonch's wife - he is planning on staying where he is - I'm working on an article about that now.
Woodburian December 12, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I hope that the voters of Woodbury will learn from this controversy, and will ask hard questions of candidates for elected boards and commissions in the future -- particularly critical land use boards. A small town like ours depends on the expertise, judgment, and nonpartisan commitment of its elected and appointed officials. Voters should be leery of any candidate whose stated motivation for public office is either a single-issue agenda (i.e., political signage) or a personal vendetta against any individual, elected or otherwise. Before you cast your vote, ask hard questions about WHY a candidate is running. Look for commitment to the public good. Run as fast as you can from one-issue candidates motivated by political agendas. When you vote, vote for individuals who are genuinely committed to the best interests of the Town of Woodbury (the WHOLE town), and who can act professionally and with integrity and nonpartisanship with respect to all the issues that come before them. I’ve heard that a well-known political figure in town once said, "Here in Woodbury, everyone knows you leave your politics at the door when you serve on a board or commission." I couldn’t agree more. Woodbury has a long and enviable history of dedicated, hard-working boards and commissions whose members contribute countless unpaid hours in order to further the best interests of the town. Let’s get on with doing what’s best for Woodbury.
Sean M December 12, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Fish truck withdrew and is staying where it is.
Sean M December 12, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Todd, it was highly appropriate. What Overton does is wrong and violates procedures. Examples from last night. 1. Overton made a motion on the political sign regulations. Chairmen are prohibited under Robert's Rules from doing so. 2. Public hearings are supposed to have 2 parts. One is public commentary. The second is a discussion by the commission followed by more commentary. Overton either knows this or should know this. I had a very specific issue that needed to be discussed before any discussion on voting on the regulations. I had a right to bring it up and Overton has stopped the meetings before to keep me from speaking. 3. Overton makes statements and does not substantiate them. For example, the commission is allowed to consider information outside what is in the hearing. I asked Overton to furnish proof and he refused. The real problems with Zoning are Overton and his lackey Bob Clarke. The enablers are Ted Tietz, Chuck Cosgriff Jr, and Alan Greene (who was absent last night). They have known for a while Overton has way overstepped his authority and they will not take the chairmanship. You should ask Ted Tietz who has been on the Commission for 40 years why he does not know basic procedures for meetings.
Sean M December 12, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Woodburian, please stop with the cheap shots on me. I ran for zoning because I saw how Martin Overton treats people and decided to do something about it. I have pointed out over and over again things Overton is not allowed to do but does them anyways. The town is at significant legal risk over its conduct of its boards. Overton is allowed to get away with things no competent board or commission will allow. 7.5.10.I did not exist before 1996. Zoning was given plenty of information about what to do. It along with Planning made a clearly bad decision. I am not planning on resigning, I did. Woodbury is representative of the problems this country faces. It gets what it deserves. I refuse to work with a commission who has people on it who do not care or take their responsibilities seriously. Perhaps you can ask Alan Green why he never read the proposed Aquifer regulations yet was planning on voting on them in November? He did not review the minutes of the October meeting in which Town Planner Brian Miller stated there was no legal requirement to pass these. The Republican full members do not have the needed understanding of what their legal role is. That is the real problem here. Where is the outrage over Martin Overton and Bob Clarke reading other material while members of the public were speaking. They deliberately ignored what they were saying. Woodbury will end up in court over Zoning and lose a lot of money. Good luck.
James Redway December 12, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Anton has terrific seafood. It is absolutely wonderful to have him in Woodbury. I'm glad he is staying. If you have never stopped by his truck on Thursdays, you are really missing out on something great.
Sean M December 13, 2012 at 03:39 PM
The press should have asked me why I resigned because this article makes it sound like it was because Overton shut the meeting down to stop me from speaking. Well folks that is not the whole story.
Jaimie Cura (Editor) December 13, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Love to hear why, Sean - the comment floor is yours, as they say.
Kristin Ingersoll December 13, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Sean, sorry to hear you resigned. I would love to know what the whole story is since it does seem like it was because of Overton.
Sean M December 13, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Jaimie I would attend the Selectman's meeting tonight with a video camera. I will be addressing the Conflict of Interest complaint filed by Democrat Town Committee "Enforcer" Richard Snider. If it is not clear what the real story is after that, well let me say it will be.
Sean M December 13, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Kristin Please see my above comment on the Selectman's meeting.
Sean M December 13, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Here are a few questions. 1. Is what Martin Overton does as chairman right or wrong? 2. Do the rest of the full members: Alan Green, Chuck Cosgriff, and Ted Tietz know this? 3. If they do not, why not? 4. If they do, why then is Overton allowed to continue to do what he does?
Kristin Ingersoll December 13, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Best of luck, Sean. I am not capable of attending any meetings at the moment so if there is someone who would tape the meeting and post it would be appreciated.
Sean M December 13, 2012 at 07:19 PM
http://www.youtube.com/user/PALINSMITH/videos?query=woodbury+ct+zoning Plenty of past meetings to observe. You can see what really goes on, as opposed to this "Woodburian" smear that I am a single agenda person.
Sean M December 13, 2012 at 07:19 PM
http://www.youtube.com/user/PALINSMITH/videos?query=woodbury+ct+zoning Plenty of past meetings to observe. You can see what really goes on, as opposed to this "Woodburian" smear that I am a single agenda person.
Sean M December 13, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I will not be at the Selectman's meeting tonight, as originally thought. I will comment any further at a later date.
Woodbury Kid December 14, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Sean, two quick points. 1. "The town is at significant legal risk over its conduct of its boards." Please expand on this statement. I have watched the videos and think that in particular the statements made by the town attorney make the actions of the board appear to be inline with their legal authority. 2. While I do not agree with your position on the signage issue I feel your dissenting voice is valuable to the town. I am sorry that you have given up. I think it weakens the process.
Sean M December 14, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Examples 1. Overton stated to John Chamberlain the night of the West Chevy vote that he did not have to recuse himself. John had missed the previous meeting and had not familiarized himself with what went on. John was right by asking and Martin was wrong. This issue had come up before with the Montesorri school. Overton missed the previous meeting and was unprepared for the meeting of the vote. He started asking questions that were addressed. I pointed this out and he blew me off. Town Planner Brian Miller suggested a book put out by the state in the 1990s. I read it and it stated that you must recuse yourself if you missed part of a public hearing and did not review what went on. 2. Overton did not recuse himself under enforcement for Tom Arras's Overturn Overton sign.. That is a conflict right there. Overton did in April and told the commission in November that he had never recused himself. In addition on 2 separate occasions, Overton took it upon himself to demand Arras take the sign down. He had no right to do that. 3. Overton and Clarke sat and ignored people speaking Tuesday night at the public hearing. They were looking down and reading other items. Neither of them have been objective for a while and it showed. Recusal warranted.
Sean M December 14, 2012 at 01:56 PM
As for political signs, The restrictions were put in in 1996. Any discussion of federal cases is irrelevant. The matter at hand is the CT Constitution. The Town Atty Roberts gave a packet of over 100 pages of case law. No comments or testimony given gave any justification for the limitations presented. Free speech is a right under the CT Constitution and the restrictions on the books do limit this right. Woodbury has no right to do regulate signs the way the Democrats advocate. I have never had an opinion on political signs because I learned that Zoning had no right to regulate them as they did. Overton has cost the town tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills already. The town will be sued some day and it will lose.
JohnGalt December 17, 2012 at 08:08 PM
While I did not attend nor had a chance to listen to the tape, yet, It appears that Martin did overstep his authority. IF, as sean says Zoning follows the "Roberts Rule of Order". Roberts states: 1) board under 12 members in number: the chairman can make a main motion and get a second. however: Martin is in violation of Roberts Rule: 1)Rule 45 principal of debate: Main motoions are debatable. Only a high privilege motion is undebatable. 2) Rule 11A) No motion is in order that conflicts with the constitution, by-laws, or standing rules or resolutions of the assembly, and if such a motion is adopted it is null and void. Sean should have asked for Parliamentary Inquiry. A parliamentary inquiry, if it relates to a question that requires immediate attention, may be made while another has the floor, or may even. interrupt a speech. It should not, however, be permitted to interrupt a speaker any more than is necessary to do justice to the inquirer. It yields to privileged motions, if they were in order when the inquiry was made, and it cannot be debated or amended or have any other subsidiary motion applied to it... Martin has been presented with the CT constitution rules on political speech and has our attorney letter....yet he still does what he wants. the board punted again


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