Darien BOS vote to move capital projects forward

In what is becoming a typical partisan divide, the Board of Selectmen voted to move the capital project plans to Planning and Zoning for further review.

In three separate votes of 3-2, the board voted to refer reports regarding improvements at 2 Renshaw Road and 35 Leroy Ave., as well as creating a building committee to oversee the renovations at 2 Renshaw Road into the Mather Center, to P&Z.

During the public comment portion of Monday's meeting, Darien resident Jim Mcllree was unhappy with the proposed shuffle.

"I am here to voice objections to the shuffle," Mcllree said. "I'm not sure it has been clearly articulated what the shuffle entails."

Democratic Selectman Callie Sullivan expressed similar concerns that not all of the questions had been answered for the work at 2 Renshaw Road and that was why she would not vote in favor of moving the report to P&Z.

"If we could work more closely to answer the questions -- that's how you build consensus," Sullivan said. "I can't support this plan." Sullivan pointed out that the reason she brought up her own proposal for a senior center was because she still had questions about the project.

"The only reason I brought my proposal to light was because not all of my questions were answered," Sullivan said.

Republican Selectman Gerald Nielsen felt enough discussion had taken place regarding the projects.

"It's time to move this baby forward," Nielsen said. "It's time to move on."

Bayne, who also opposed referring the reports to P&Z, felt there were too many fundamental questions still to answer and that was why he could not support the project.

Bayne also refused to support the plans for 35 Leroy Ave. because the land was originally zoned for housing and he felt it should be used for housing.

The board did agree that a potential transfer of $275,000 could be tabled for a later date until more information was available for how the money would be used.

Both Bayne and Sullivan were concerned that there weren't any proposals or contracts to dictate how the money was spent.

Nielsen agreed with Bayne and questioned whether it would be valid to give all the money up front or give a portion of it to start. The board voted to table the issue to be addressed at a later date.

In other business, Director of Human Resources Nancy Markey went before the board to request a change in the pension ordinance for town employees. The ordinance was changed in 2003 by the RTM so that benefits would begin for employees who worked for five years. However, because a section of the ordinance was not changed to reflect the new five-year policy, employees who are hired after the age of 55 cannot retire until 65 without a penalty to their pension.

"Two employees were penalized for this," Markey said. "I want to make sure the benefits are administered to the employees as indicated."

The board unanimously voted to pass on the change in the ordinance to the RTM for approval.