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Business In A Residential Zone

Published: September 5, 2017

To the Editor:

For the past two months, LOF Adaptive Skiers, a nonprofit organization offering sporting facilitation services, has been operating under a temporary permit out of the Walnut Tree Field park. [See related article in the September 1, 2017, issue of The Newtown Bee, “Disabled Waterski Group And Neighbors at Odds” and online along with “Selectmen Hear Residents’ Concerns, Issue Temporary LOF License” at newtownbee.com.] On August 17, 2017, in response to 100 percent opposition by the residents and based on the unsuitability of the location (R1 Zoned), the Board of Selectmen voted for LOF to discontinue operations at the end of September. At that meeting, the Board asked LOF to spend the fall and winter developing a proposal for a possible alternate location on Hanover Road. Instead of pursuing that, LOF has instead decided to slander the residents of the neighborhood [in a Facebook post]. Their group admin is continually deleting any posts in opposition to the use of this residential property, deliberately deceiving the public.

Most of the neighbors volunteered for LOF in one capacity or another over the past 15 or more years and our opposition is not against the organization, but to the location. Several residents serve/served as board members and were deliberately kept in the dark about the activities and application for a temporary permit. The use of this property by a business is in direct violation of Newtown Residential Zoning regulations… the same reason that was cited when LOF was asked to cease and desist operations in Shady Rest where residents were forced to file suit to stop excessive business activities. LOF are trying to paint the residents near the Walnut Tree field as evil and against ADA and LOF participants. This is simply not true. Regardless of what is said about how frequently the property is used, it was deeded as a park/open space for the residents of the neighborhood as a condition of approval for the builder when the permits were issued for the development back in the 1980s. It was not deeded to serve as a business location for one nonprofit entity serving a majority of participants from out of town.

That Newtown graciously offered to investigate the use of another property and LOF instead chose to slander the neighborhood and the town with threats to sue speaks volumes about the kind of neighbor and community citizen they are and would be. LOF would rather spend time dividing the town and forcing the town into a lawsuit. For clarity, they are looking to lease residential land for minimal cost to build permanent structures to operate a commercial business. Regardless of their status as a nonprofit, this type of activity is prohibited by zoning and would open Newtown up to future litigious actions by other organizations looking for the same favors.

I am writing this to bring attention to the issue before it is turned into a discrimination campaign, as no one is arguing the impact of the services that LOF provides to event participants and the volunteers who support their mission.

Lorraine Gibbons
6 Bridge End Farm Lane, Sandy Hook         September 5, 2017

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