Kathleen and Allan Jacques just don’t give up.
The couple, neighbors to the former Seaside Sanitarium, has gone to court to appeal the basis for an by the Waterford Planning and Zoning Commission to change regulations at Seaside. The Jacques, through lawyer Jon Chase, are not appealing the decision the commission made, but instead how it was made.
“The plaintiffs have a specific and legal interest in the subject matter of the commission’s decision in a manner and extent that is special and not common to other properties or persons in the Town of Waterford, and are therefore aggrieved by the commission’s actions,” Chase wrote in the official complaint.
The appeal will be heard in New London Superior Court on Oct. 11.
This is at least the second time the Jacques have appealed a decision by the planning and zoning commission on Seaside. They filed an appeal to the court in 2004 over a decision by the planning and zoning commission in 2003. The court dismissed the appeal.
This summer, developer Mark Steiner asked the planning commission to change zoning regulations at the Seaside district to better suit today’s economic climate. The most controversial changes he asked for were to remove the 55-and-over age restriction on housing on the property and to allow him to demolish the buildings if it is proven they can't be salvaged.
On Aug. 8, the commission agreed to drop the age restriction. It made strict regulations on keeping the buildings, with a strong emphasis on using what was at all salvageable as part of the renovation.
During the public hearings over the summer, Kathleen Jacques filed an intervention pleading on the basis there could be “conduct which is likely unreasonable to destroy the public trust in the historic structures or landmarks.”
The commission denied the request. Town Planning Director Tom Wagner asked Jacques to state her complaints against Steiner’s zoning regulations, rather than file an intervention pleading. Jacques did, as well as her lawyer, Chase.
However, the Sept. 7 appeal contends the intervention pleading should have been granted. Additionally, the commission “failed to consider feasible and prudent alternatives; failed to develop an adequate record for the protection of the public trust in the historic structures," along with other listed offenses.
Allan Jacques refused comment on the complaint. Wagner encouraged the commission not to discuss it, as it is pending litigation.
For more than a decade, Steiner has been trying to buy Seaside from the state of Connecticut to turn the buildings into high-end condominiums. And for that same length of time, the Jacques have opposed Steiner purchasing the property.
Jacques, in her own words, was never against the age restriction, saying in an earlier email to Patch: “I do not care who lives there -– I only care about how many people live there.”
When asked her reason on opposing the development, she wrote:
“I live in a rural part of town, and I do not like one parcel being rezoned for high-density housing just so that the town can raise tax revenue. By the way, it is not usually the way zoning works -– this is a special situation. (Remember – the zoning was called an 'historic preservation district.' If it is no longer that, then why should the zoning not be the same as the surrounding area?) So, the burden of proof should be on the town to argue why they are making an exception on this parcel if the special characteristics no longer apply.”