Testa again seeking zone change for restaurant

Posted in the Trumbull Forum

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1 - 14 of 14 Comments Last updated Aug 30, 2013
bpthoodnews

Lodi, NJ

#1 Mar 24, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- The master plan change for Democratic Chairman Mario Testa's Italian restaurant was just the antipasto. Now comes the main course.
Late last week Testa's attorney, Charles Willinger, filed a related request with the city to change the zoning of his client's restaurant from residential to office/retail general.
"Already?" said Dee Manento, one of several neighbors of Testa's North End restaurant, Testo's, who earlier this month failed to convince Zoning Commission members to deny his efforts to label the site at Madison and Westfield avenues as mixed use.
Willinger on Friday said fears his clients -- Testa and partners Ralph and Marilia Giacobbe -- want to expand or sell are unfounded.
"We don't plan on one change," Willinger said. "The neighbors will never know the difference."
For decades, restaurants have called the location home, but the use has been grandfathered into a mostly residential neighborhood.
Testa has repeatedly tried and failed to change the zoning since opening Testo's in the mid-2000s. But his success convincing the commissioners to grant a rare master plan change means he has a better chance with the current zoning application, Willinger said.
"I think the same commission should, logically, see our commercial use would be consistent with the master plan," Willinger said.
Willinger said Testa needs the master plan and zoning changes to refinance. He said the bank his client is working with advised Testa that if a fire destroyed over 50 percent of the eatery, the owners would need a zoning variance to reopen.
There are no guarantees the variance would be granted. And even if one were granted, it could be appealed, leaving Testa's livelihood in limbo, Willinger said.
"It's not right for a commercial structure that predated the residences in that area," Willinger said.
Willinger acknowledged the zoning change will make the property more marketable. Zoning would allow a church or small office building.
Most other potential uses would require additional zoning approvals.
"But that's irrelevant because it's not on the market (and) we have no intention of selling," he said.
Manento said the neighborhood, which has clashed repeatedly with Testa, does not trust him. "They can sell the moon," she said.
Opponents also worry that Testa, because of his position running the city's Democratic Party, has political advantage with city officials.
A majority of the all-Democrat City Council did refuse to take advantage of an opportunity to weigh in on the master plan change, although member Michelle Lyons, D-134, who represents the North End, wrote the zoning commissioners a letter opposing Testa's application.
And by refusing to make a recommendation, the full council triggered a requirement that a super-majority of zoning commissioners back Testa's master plan change, rather than a simple majority.
One of the commissioners who made the strongest case for Testa was Chairman Mel Riley, a Republican. Willinger said Testa should not be penalized because he happens to be in politics.

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Testa-aga...

Since: Aug 10

Location hidden

#2 Mar 24, 2013
I hope that Testa have fire insurance. He and his lawyer are liars, bullies and thugs and plain no good.
BPT

Wallingford, CT

#3 Mar 25, 2013
he's up to something.
Lifeisshort

Seymour, CT

#4 Mar 25, 2013
bpthoodnews wrote:
BRIDGEPORT -- The master plan change for Democratic Chairman Mario Testa's Italian restaurant was just the antipasto. Now comes the main course.
Late last week Testa's attorney, Charles Willinger, filed a related request with the city to change the zoning of his client's restaurant from residential to office/retail general.
"Already?" said Dee Manento, one of several neighbors of Testa's North End restaurant, Testo's, who earlier this month failed to convince Zoning Commission members to deny his efforts to label the site at Madison and Westfield avenues as mixed use.
Willinger on Friday said fears his clients -- Testa and partners Ralph and Marilia Giacobbe -- want to expand or sell are unfounded.
"We don't plan on one change," Willinger said. "The neighbors will never know the difference."
For decades, restaurants have called the location home, but the use has been grandfathered into a mostly residential neighborhood.
Testa has repeatedly tried and failed to change the zoning since opening Testo's in the mid-2000s. But his success convincing the commissioners to grant a rare master plan change means he has a better chance with the current zoning application, Willinger said.
"I think the same commission should, logically, see our commercial use would be consistent with the master plan," Willinger said.
Willinger said Testa needs the master plan and zoning changes to refinance. He said the bank his client is working with advised Testa that if a fire destroyed over 50 percent of the eatery, the owners would need a zoning variance to reopen.
There are no guarantees the variance would be granted. And even if one were granted, it could be appealed, leaving Testa's livelihood in limbo, Willinger said.
"It's not right for a commercial structure that predated the residences in that area," Willinger said.
Willinger acknowledged the zoning change will make the property more marketable. Zoning would allow a church or small office building.
Most other potential uses would require additional zoning approvals.
"But that's irrelevant because it's not on the market (and) we have no intention of selling," he said.
Manento said the neighborhood, which has clashed repeatedly with Testa, does not trust him. "They can sell the moon," she said.
Opponents also worry that Testa, because of his position running the city's Democratic Party, has political advantage with city officials.
A majority of the all-Democrat City Council did refuse to take advantage of an opportunity to weigh in on the master plan change, although member Michelle Lyons, D-134, who represents the North End, wrote the zoning commissioners a letter opposing Testa's application.
And by refusing to make a recommendation, the full council triggered a requirement that a super-majority of zoning commissioners back Testa's master plan change, rather than a simple majority.
One of the commissioners who made the strongest case for Testa was Chairman Mel Riley, a Republican. Willinger said Testa should not be penalized because he happens to be in politics.
Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Testa-aga...
Excellent info. You certainly did your research bpthoodnews. Maybe there should be a "Don" before Testa's name! You know, "ya gots ta have respect". You don't want any of his "associates" to fit you for a new pair of shoes. Know what I mean?

“'never'”

Since: Mar 11

Location hidden

#5 Mar 25, 2013
BPT wrote:
he's up to something.
I don't know... but should we hire Sam as our arsonist?

Since: Aug 10

Location hidden

#6 Mar 25, 2013
BPT wrote:
he's up to something.
Nothing good.
America Gentleman Samuel

Wallingford, CT

#7 Mar 25, 2013
I was talki g with Tippy and she would love to see the building torn down and a dog walk park put in.

Since: Aug 10

Location hidden

#8 Apr 1, 2013
Let us see how Testa handle Christina Ayala. Off to jail, she will go and Testa should join her.
Lifeisshort

Seymour, CT

#9 Apr 2, 2013
America Gentleman Samuel wrote:
Let us see how Testa handle Christina Ayala. Off to jail, she will go and Testa should join her.
I haven't heard any more about Ayala. Is she hiding in the closet? Trying to avoid publicity?
Mornin' Sam. Looks like another nice day out there. Spring is finally here. Have a good one.

Since: Aug 10

Location hidden

#10 Apr 2, 2013
Hi
Today it is very cold, but I am planing what I am going to plant in my garden. Maybe Ayala is hiding out in her Daddy bar. Have a good night.
Lifeisshort

Seymour, CT

#11 Apr 3, 2013
America Gentleman Samuel wrote:
Hi
Today it is very cold, but I am planing what I am going to plant in my garden. Maybe Ayala is hiding out in her Daddy bar. Have a good night.
I've tried that garden thing. Every year the weeds, bugs and wildlife keep me in overtime on managing it. It takes a lot of time and work. Good luck, Sam. What are you planting?

“'never'”

Since: Mar 11

Location hidden

#12 Apr 3, 2013
I think I'll plant poison ivy and thorns bushes.

Since: Aug 10

Location hidden

#13 Apr 3, 2013
Good choices, Citizen.

Since: Aug 10

Location hidden

#14 Aug 30, 2013
Mostly I planted Tomatoes, I got some. I planted pepper plants but no peppers.

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