By Robert D. Utter
NORTH STONINGTON - Shawn Michael Ward’s civil suit against North Stonington and its boards and officials was once again occupying the public’s time and attention at a special meeting Tuesday night, (Jan. 21)
The members of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) received an update and explanation of the timetable and process and their roles in the Town’s answer to Ward’s 10 summonses, delivered, like late Yankee Swap Christmas packages, in late December and early January, to the Town of North Stonington; Planning, Development, and Zoning Official Juliet Hodge; the Planning and Zoning Commission; the ZBA; First Selectman Michael Urgo; and 2019 ZBA members James E. Lord, Candy Palmer, Shawn Murphy, Charles Berger, and Mark Leonard.
While the summons misspelled Mike Urgo’s name (Micheal?), all who have read it know who Ward meant, because Ward is also know as Michael, or Mike.
Town’s Attorney Robert A. Avena explained to the ZBA that after the town lost Ward’s Superior Court case challenging the ZBA’s decisions, Judge Cynthia Swienton denied the Town’s appeal of her decision.
The ZBA members who were sued do not need to provide their own lawyers to defend themselves, Avena said, because they are covered by “public officials’ insurance.” The Town’s insurer, Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency (CIRMA), manages the suit.
“They bring in people who do municipal litigation,” Avena said. He was scheduled to meet with CIRMA the next day, Wednesday.
He also assured the board that the defendants will be kept up to date with the progression of the case.
Before dealing with the Ward case, the ZBA chose new officers. Chairman Jim Lord respectfully declined to accept a nomination to continue as chairman. After a brief silence, Candy Palmer was nominated and voted in as chair. Shawn Murphy was chosen as vice chairman, and Robin Hall, who was not there to respectfully decline or accept, was reelected secretary.
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