Letter: Jones calls for voters to back Here for Shelton Republicans

To the Editor:

On Tuesday, Sept. 10, there will be Republican primaries. I am asking all Republicans to come out and vote for me, Chris Jones, for Planning and Zoning. I am also asking that you vote for the rest of the Here for Shelton slate that includes re-electing Jim Capra, 4th Ward alderman; electing Greg Tetro and Peter Squitieri for 3rd Ward aldermen, Mike Gaydos for 2nd Ward alderman and re-electing Anne Gaydos, Mark Holden and Tom Minotti for Board of Education.

When I was 32 years old, Democratic Alderman David Eldridge asked me to join him as a running mate for Ward 2 alderman. I have known David since I was a youngster, as both our fathers served in the Marine Corps. I told him that I wasn’t really interested but he took a moment to explain that the city-owned practice/playing field behind Lafayette School was in peril of being sold to a private construction company. The construction company had a sand and gravel pit on the adjoining property and were encroaching on the playing field. As they were blasting, debris was being thrown onto the field where children were playing and in addition, they wanted to expand their mining operations. Having grown up playing sports on that very field and what it meant for children and youth sports, I decided to take David up on his offer to protect the playing fields and fight for my neighbors’ rights.

Over the next 10 years I served on the Board of Aldermen, the Planning & Zoning Commission, and, yes, ran for mayor. I wanted to be involved and make a difference for all residents of Shelton. I got married, had two beautiful children and political office was pushed to the back burner for a few years. During my hiatus I had time to watch and reflect of the direction of the Democratic Party. I had become disenchanted with the Democratic Party and was very vocal about the direction and of the party and the lack of consistent and good leadership. Many friends, both locally and abroad, were suggesting that I get involved again to bring back strong morals, transparency along with common sense government. The Democratic Party had abandoned these convictions, so I switched to the Republican Party, which is more in line with my feelings and beliefs. John Anglace, the 3rd Ward alderman and president of the Board of Aldermen, in a letter to the editor, would like you to believe that because I switched parties, it makes me a villain. Quite the opposite, Mr. Anglace. He should be accepting me with open arms that I finally saw the light that the Democratic Party has moved too far left and that their only answer to budget deficits is to raise taxes instead of streamline spending. I would also like to kindly remind John Anglace that there are candidates that he is openly supporting that have changed parties’ numerous times, and some that were not or are not even Republicans until after the nominating convention. So, to portray me as a villain for seeing the light while advocating others is hypocritical.

Over the years I have continued to stay involved by attending Planning & Zoning meetings and Board of Aldermen meetings. I was, and still am against the Towne Center at Shelter Ridge project at the corner of Mill Street and Bridgeport Avenue. This project required a zone change from LIP to a PDD. It encompasses more than 120 acres, would include a nine-story, 350-unit apartment complex and numerous additional commercial and retail strip plazas. This project was met with the largest public opposition ever seen in Shelton. Save Our Shelton (SOS) was formed by 3rd Ward aldermanic candidates Greg Tetro and Peter Squitieri to fight this project and has taken this project to court for numerous flaws in the approval process. This project will be devastating to the Bridgeport Avenue corridor in terms of the inordinate amount of additional traffic and will harm of property values in surrounding neighborhoods. The application process was flawed as the applicant never submitted an application to Inlands and Wetlands as required by law at the time of application to Planning & Zoning. The process was further flawed when the commission granted a zone change without ever receiving a report from Inland/Wetlands, also required by law. Even with the major flaws, and the huge public opposition to the project, two current commissioners, Virginia Harger and Ned Miller, who are in the primaries on Sept. 10, still voted in favor of approving the zone change.

If elected as your newest Planning & Zoning commissioner, I promise you that I will follow all applying statutes, regulations and more importantly listen to you, my constituents.

Last year, a zone change was proposed for the property currently owned by Huntington Congregational Church in Huntington Center. This application is for 20 homes on five acres. The proposed zone change should have never been accepted as the proposed zone is not allowed in an area surrounded only by residential zones. The applicant from the beginning, clearly stated that if his project is not approved for the 20 homes, he would come back with over 80 units of affordable housing on the same five acres. Residents once again came out in large numbers in opposition to the project, which was ultimately denied. As promised, the developer appealed the decision to Superior Court and submitted an application for the over 80 units of affordable housing. To combat the affordable housing plan, the mayor has refused to allow the Planning & Zoning Commission to hire a proper land use attorney to defend the city. Now the Chairwoman Ginny Harger and mayor are trying to get other members to negotiate a settlement that will forever negatively impact Huntington Center. As your commissioner, I promise you that I will not be blackmailed, extorted or bullied into negotiating any project. I will fight to maintain and protect the integrity of our residential zones, your neighborhoods. I will listen and fight for you.

I would like to remind you that more large companies, the ones that bring tax revenue, stability and good paying jobs, have left Shelton in recent years than those moving in. Stihl, Tetley Tea, Richardson Vicks and United Illuminating, to name just a few. Yes, Bridgeport Avenue has grown, but with apartments and low-paying retail jobs in strip malls, which is a dying breed like the big malls, as consumers transition to online shopping. The mayor and his rubber stamps are in full support of these poor developments and strip malls that don’t bring stability, tax revenue and growth.

As your Planning & Zoning commissioner, I will fight to protect your neighborhoods, control the over use and improper use of the PDD. I will seek to have the mayor negotiate with the owner of the property at Shelter Ridge to return the zone back to the original LIP, to bring back good paying and stable manufacturing jobs needed to grow the city grand list. I will seek to change the zoning regulations by updating them to make the transition to the changing trends. My primary opponents are planning for yesterday and not tomorrow. I will plan not only for tomorrow, but for 10, 20 and 30 years down the road.

Friends and neighbors, I’m asking for your vote, Tuesday, Sept 10. I will be there for your neighborhoods and Shelton’s future. I will not be a rubber stamp for bad development. I will be a vote for smart, fair and balanced development.

Chris Jones