Bridgeport residents oppose zoning change sought by Testa
Posted in the Trumbull Forum
#1 Mar 10, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- Bill Becker, 80, has always called the Madison Avenue neighborhood in the North End home.
And over those years he has seen a lot of changes -- too many. So Becker joined the small crowd of 20 residents who spent Saturday afternoon picketing outside of Testo's restaurant to oppose a proposed land use change.
"That's only an opening for more expansion," Becker said of owner and city Democratic Town Committee Chairman Mario Testa's request to change his eatery's designation in Bridgeport's master plan from a residential to a mixed use zone.
The matter comes before the city's Zoning Commission on Monday at 6:45 p.m. at City Hall.
Testa, who could not be reached Saturday and has not returned prior requests for comment, has been attempting for years to ease the zoning restrictions on his business. The Italian restaurant is a grandfathered use in a residential zone because it has been the location of a restaurant for many decades.
Becker remembered at least three prior businesses, including the Coconut Grove
Testa's attorneys argue that is the reason the change should be granted: to make it official.
Neighbors fear Testa wants to expand or sell the property for other commercial uses. Many of the signs carried by picketers Saturday repeated the longstanding rumor that Sacred Heart University could build dorms on the site.
"I worry they're going to change the restaurant," said Ruben Estrada, who lives behind Testa's. "I'm happy with my house. If they change it, the price will be down."
Although Testa has continually been rebuffed by zoning officials, opponents fear his political influence could eventually carry the day.
"If we don't show up, they'd vote it right through, I'm sure of that," said Art Manento.
North End residents say they have reason to be paranoid: The neighborhood's recently-shuttered Stop & Shop was built in the late 1990s after a developer paid a kickback to a city zoning official, a federal prosecutor said during ex-Mayor Joseph P. Ganim's corruption trial.
Jennifer Buchanan of the seaside Black Rock neighborhood was also at the protest. She said if approved, the changes to the master plan could set a bad precedent that affects the character of other neighborhoods.
The all-Democratic City Council passed on an opportunity to weigh in on the application last month.
In doing so the zoning change now needs a two-thirds vote, rather than a simple majority vote of the zoning board to pass.
Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Bridgepor...
Since: Aug 10
#2 Mar 10, 2013
No to the zoning change.
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