Mucchetti is re-elected chair of Ridgefield P&Z

Same chair, same vice chair, same dissenting voices — but abstaining this year, rather than pushing an alternative slate.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti and vice chairman Charles Robbins were re-elected as the commission’s officers Tuesday night, Dec. 1.

The vote was six in favor, none opposed, with three abstentions.

“I voted ‘no’ last year, and my mind hasn’t changed — but we aren’t putting up a different slate,” Commissioner Joe Dowdell said, explaining his abstention.

The Mucchetti-Robbins slate was nominated by John Katz, the commission’s longest serving member, and seconded by George Hanlon. The six commissioners voting in favor of the slate included three Republicans: Katz, Hanlon and Mucchetti; and three Democrats, Robbins, Joe Fossi and Ben Nneji.

Abstaining were three Democrats: Dowdell, Rob Hendrick and Susan Consentino.

Hendrick and Consentino said they were abstaining for the reason Dowdell had expressed: they’d opposed the Mucchetti-Robbins slate last year, and still felt the commission would benefit from new leadership.

In 2019, the alternative slate put forward by the dissenters would have made Vice Chairman Robbins the chairman, with Dowdell as vice chairman. Back then Robbins himself had voted for the slate in which he was not chairman, but vice chairman under Mucchetti’s leadership.

Last year’s election of officers followed a town election in which three Planning and Zoning members — Rob Hendrick, Susan Consentino and Ben Nneji, all Democrats — had been elected with support of the group Ridgefield Voters United, which had challenged the commission as being too collaborative with developers.

The only change in voting from last year’s 5-4-0 to this year’s 6-0-3 was Nneji, who supported the alternative slate in 2019, but supported Mucchetti and Robbins in 2020.

It was Fossi who challenged those who had abstained to explain why — noting that when three new commissioners were elected in 2019, they had run on a platform calling for “openness.”

Hendrick and Consentino reiterated that they backed the position expressed by Dowdell: They’d voted no last year and were abstaining this year rather than supporting a continuation of leadership.

Hendrick didn’t like the question.

“I don’t think bullying the commission is necessarily appropriate,” he said.

“I don’t think I was bullying,” said Fossi.