Updated: Sep 18
Much of what is recorded here comes from Letters to the Editor in the Town Times. Because a lot of what occurred was so outrageous, we were frequently asked to provide proof to the Town Times of what occurred before they would publish our letters. We kept the townspeople informed through these letters. Unfortunately, not long after the current Town Manager took office, someone threatened to sue the Town Times if they printed any more of these informative letters. Now the Town Times will only print happy news, and the voters must work much harder to find out what is happening. This is an extremely dangerous time for the taxpayers as even more inappropriate actions can be taken under this new cloud of secrecy than what has been outlined here.
The best way to find out what is happening is to do the following:
Attend Independent Party meetings. They are held the 4th Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Senior Center.
Read this website. We will try to update it with new news.
Attend Town Council and P&Z meetings. Look for our people. They will explain what is happening.
Search GadflyGirl06795 on YouTube.
Read Letters to the Editor in the Waterbury Republican-American. They are still willing to print the truth, but not frequently.
Send us your questions.
Poor Hiring Practices:
The most recent example of poor hiring practices was the hiring of the Town Manager in 2020. Independent Party supporters publicized this in letters to the Editor in the Town Times and Waterbury Republican-American:
The Charter Revision Commission said they rejected a mayoral form of government because the having the Town Manger position enabled us to hire the most qualified candidate to run the Town.
In the past, Town Manager candidates had advanced degrees and/or experience in Public Administration. Robert Scannell, our last Town Manager, came to us with experience and a master’s degree.
28 applicants, many very qualified candidates with relevant experience and advanced degrees, applied for the job of Town Manger. Many extremely qualified candidates were not even granted interviews.
At the time our Town Manager applied for the job, his wife was serving as Vice Chairman of the Town Council.
The Town Council hired our current Town Manager with a salary of $127,500. This is comparable to what we paid our last experienced Town Manager. The current Manager has no relevant education or experience. His resume says he is pursuing a degree in Public Administration from a college whose website does not list this as a degree they offer.
Up until 2018, this hiring would have violated the Town’s Ethics Ordinance because he was a Watertown public official, serving on 3 commissions and as a paid Marshall, and was not eligible to apply for a Watertown job until he had left these positions for 2 years. The Town Council had weakened the Ethics Ordinance to make cronyism easier to accomplish before this position was filled.
Conflicts of Interest persist:
The Republican Town Committee Chairman requested a special permit from Planning and Zoning to build a 3-family house in an area zoned for only 1 family houses. For most people, this would be an automatic “no” from P&Z, but the request came from an “insider” with connections.
Anyone in business with or employed by an applicant appearing before P&Z cannot participate in discussions on or vote on that application because of a conflict of interest. Two P&Z Commissioners are in business together as managing members of Platt Road, LLC., along with the Chairman of the Republican Town Committee. The commissioners with the conflict did not recuse themselves on all votes pertaining to this application from their business associate’s. One of the conflicted P&Z commissioners is also a Republican member of the Town Council. As a Town Council member, one of his responsibilities is to oversee boards and commissions. When faced with this situation on P&Z, he said nothing. The Town Council took no action on these conflicts of interest.
The latest P&Z Threat to Residential Neighborhoods
The current zoning issue that the Independent Party and their supporters are involved with is the Sealy Property in the center of Oakville. We have attended and spoke at the public hearings, created flyers to keep the neighbors informed, and met with the neighbors to explain their options:
Shortly after the Sealy property was cleared for development, the Town was approached by 3 developers who wanted to develop the property for mixed use. Rather than use the existing business-commercial zoning regulations that pertained to the property, they wanted P&Z to create a special zone for them. Their attorney drafted and submitted proposed zoning regulations to P&Z.
Several Zoom public hearings were held despite requests from the public for an in-person hearing. The public was given incorrect information:
P&Z Chairman Antonetti said that traffic would be addressed because the State was doing a Road Safety Audit in Oakville. The DOT confirmed that there is no such Audit taking place or planned in Oakville.
Former P&Z Chairman Markiewicz incorrectly stated that a 5-story factory can be built on the site. In 2015, then P&Z Chairman Markiewicz signed off on the current zoning of Business/Commercial on the property, which does not permit a 5-story building or factory.
The Economic Development Commission paid $15,000 for a feasibility study on the property which indicated the property should be developed with a village concept without drive throughs.
The job of members of P&Z is to listen to and evaluate the information presented, both by the applicant and members of the public, during public hearings. While an application is under consideration, no commission member should engage in communication with anyone concerning the application outside of the public forum. No commission member should make up his or her mind about an application until after all the information has been presented.
The Chairman plus three Commissioners voiced their support for the zoning amendment in the first hearing, demonstrating bias and predetermination.
Some members indicated through Facebook postings and comments made at meetings that they were in favor of the project.
We have relevant prior experience with 2 of the 3 developers on the Sealy project:
When Starbucks was built, one of the developers said the drive thru would not be a traffic problem. Now he is telling us the same thing with the Sealy drive thru.
Watertown sold the Griffin School property to one of the Sealy developers at a below market price because he promised to turn it into elderly housing. Years later, he said he could not afford to do what he promised, so he sold the property for a big profit, and we got an ugly CVS.
In spite of numerous objections, 66 neighbors signing a petition objecting to the zone change, and many nights of testimony from the neighbors voicing complaints, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the zone change, allowing the development to proceed.
In August 2021, Several Sealy residential neighbors filed a lawsuit against the Planning and Zoning Commission, objecting to the zone change.
The Sunset Grille at Crestbrook and the Hawk Ridge Winery have been holding events with loud music. The neighbors are unable to open their windows or hold events in their own yards because of the excessive noise. We have advised the neighbors about who to call, supplied them with noise ordinances from other towns, and supported them in public meetings.
The Hawk Ridge issue is especially troubling as we had warned P&Z that this could become a problem when they agreed to change a residential zone to permit the winery. If they had approved it through a special permit, as we advised, they could have maintained more control.
After the 2017 election, we noticed that the sum of the votes for Democrats and Independents exceeded the number of votes for Republicans. We knew that if the Democrats and Independents could find a way to work together, we might be able to win a majority on the Town Council. And if we did not work together, the Republicans would always win the majority, allowing them to do anything they wanted.
The 2021 election for Town Council will be the first time in history that both the Democratic Party and the Independent Party have endorsed the same candidates.
The platforms for both parties are compatible. Each group has different priorities but one common goal: to share the majority on the Town Council.