City costs rise for developer's driveway
Posted in the Trumbull Forum
#1 Apr 17, 2014
BRIDGEPORT -- Make that a $500,000 driveway the city has built for millionaire developer Manuel "Manny" Moutinho by Sikorsky Memorial Airport.
A legal settlement to end one of the more bizarre events in Bridgeport history nearly fell apart Thursday. A judge refused to sign it after learning the city will pay $30,000 to Moutinho's lawyers and an as yet undisclosed amount to map out where the driveway -- that the city last year paid Moutinho $400,000 to build -- actually is.
"You mean to tell me the city is subsidizing Mr. Moutinho's legal bills after he has already gotten everything he has asked for?" Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe asked the lawyers for the city and Moutinho. "I take it this was not submitted to the city council for approval."
"That is correct," responded Assistant City Attorney Edmund Schmidt.
Radcliffe continued the hearing to May 1 when, in an unusual move, he will allow members of the public to speak.
The city had already agreed to pay $65,000 to Breakwater Key, a condo complex that sued to block the driveway's construction through neighboring wetlands and another $9,000 to a lawyer who recently died after trying to stop the settlement.
"This whole matter is very troubling," said City Councilman Rick Torres, R-130, who sat in on Wednesday's hearing. Torres -- a freshman councilman who campaigned last year on bringing more transparency to government following the driveway controversy -- said the council, which approved the settlement in February, was not told of the additional $30,000 legal bill.
"He (Moutinho) is one of the wealthiest people in this community. I didn't think we should be paying for his driveway and I don't think we should be paying his legal bills," Torres said.
Still, Torres voted for the settlement in February.
Schmidt said Moutinho's lawyers were arguing on behalf of the city during the appeals process.
But Radcliffe wasn't buying it.
Moutinho, who owns MTM Builders, built an ornate mansion with a large swimming pool on a piece of waterside property across from Short Beach in Stratford. Until the summer of 2012 the only access way to the property and two neighbors was an old dirt driveway from Stratford's Main Street, over city-owned Sikorsky Airport property.
In July 2012 the Stratford Zoning Board of Appeals granted Moutinho's application to build a new, gravel driveway through a different section of airport property to Stratford's Sniffen Lane.
Moutinho had already secured permission from Bridgeport around 2010.
At the time Moutinho said he was going to pay for the construction and the maintenance himself.
Breakwater Key sued to block the driveway and, last July, won. Judge Radcliffe ruled that Moutinho's claim that he needed a new driveway wasn't supported by the evidence and, in fact, he could have repaired the dirt one.
But by that time, the driveway had been completed - on Bridgeport's dime.
Between late 2012 and early 2013 Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch's administration quietly decided to take over the project as part of a $40 million runway safety upgrade the federal government, which is footing most of the bill, wants completed by 2016.
The old dirt driveway was in the way of the project and, since Moutinho had not moved forward, Bridgeport felt the need to get it done in order to keep the federal investment and Sikorsky.
Since: Aug 10
#2 Apr 17, 2014
Another story that there is still big time Corruption in Bridgeport, thanks to Finch, bird brain.
#3 Apr 22, 2014
So who does manny have pictures of doing what to whom? Does he have some recordings of blumenthal, finch and mckinney having the crapoziellos do their [email protected] work?
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