Op-Ed: Shelton Aldermen president refutes McGee’s letter on downtown development

Shelton Board of Aldermen President John Anglace, Jr.

Shelton Board of Aldermen President John Anglace, Jr.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

This is a response to a letter that recently ran in the Shelton Herald titled, “BOA must stop giving gifts to developers,” written by Matt McGee.

In this letter he attempted to make the point that Shelton needs “smart development” and he, as a recent high school graduate has oversight ability to do just that if elected to the Board of Aldermen (BOA). (Last I looked, state statutes and the City Charter give development responsibility to Planning & Zoning, not the BOA.) He cites three BOA actions where he would provide better oversight - really.

1. Approval of $25,000 for an Inland Wetlands Application evaluation which he says was “another taxpayer subsidized study of the proposed Shelter Ridge development off Mill Street that attempts to undermine the findings of several local land use engineers.” Not factual … not even close. P&Z held hearings on this application and approved it. The findings were challenged in court and then it went to Inland Wetlands (IW) for their approval. Due to substantial technical wetlands information provided by the challenger, IW requested BOA funding to support a third-party engineering evaluation of the application since IW Commissioners are non-technical volunteers. The subsequent impartial wetlands deficiencies found by this impartial third party review (funded by the BOA) caused the applicant to rethink and withdraw the application. The project now sits in limbo. Was that not a wise use of taxpayer money? What better oversight can he offer?

2. Next, he questions the approval of the sale of city-owned property on Canal Street for $4,000 saying that another developer was willing to pay much more for it. Again, his facts are wrong. The BOA and the Mayor made a conscious decision several years back to identify and dispose of isolated properties throughout the city that were of no use to the city, represented a liability and required maintenance but might have use by adjoining property owners, etc. This would result in revenue to the city from the sale and put the property back on the tax rolls. The Canal Street property was one of these isolated pieces. Developer #1 approached the city asking to purchase it for economic development purposes. P&Z gave a favorable 8-24 to sell it and the property was appraised and sold for $4,000. Moving forward a year or two, the city put the Chromium Process property out to bid and received a proposal from Developer #2 that required the city to take Developer #1’s property by eminent domain and then sell it to Developer #2. The BOA refused. The bid was then revised, and a new proposal and price agreed. His suggested oversight would have resulted in eminent domain? Doesn’t he realize the cost, inconvenience, and impact this would have had on downtown redevelopment as well as our taxpayers?

3. Next, he cites “the approval of the sale of city-owned property at 267 Canal St. to the same developer who had failed to pay taxes on the property years prior leaving taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of thousands in unpaid back taxes.” This is factually incorrect. The property in question is the Star Pin Co. The property was in the process of sale to the Primrose Companies at the time of the fire. Primrose never previously owned this property and therefore could never have failed to pay taxes on it. The history on the sale of this property, along with the independent assessment provided by the SEDC is contained in the minutes of the March 12, 2020, BOA meeting. This kind of McGee oversight is what leads to lawsuits.

He says “It’s time for new leadership…” His inability to get his facts straight leads to erroneous conclusions and bad decisions. The people of the Third Ward deserve much better.

It’s one thing to get your name in the paper during an election campaign but it is quite another to get your facts straight and not mislead the people you would represent. Further substantiation of the above facts can be accessed in the BOA minutes of Dec. 10, 2020, Jan. 7, 2021, and March 12, 2020, at www.cityofshelton.org.

The BOA has given no gifts to developers. On the contrary, we are thankful that Shelton has people willing to invest their money in our downtown renaissance. They are building our tax base in accordance with our citizen approved Comprehensive Plan of Conservation and Development and the taxes generated are providing the new annual funding that allows us to keep everyone’s taxes low.

As your Third Ward Aldermen, Cris Balamaci and I are always willing to explain what we did and why we did it. We hope you find this information helpful and allow us to continue in your service.

John F. Anglace, Jr., is Board of Aldermen president.