Letter: ‘Violation’ hearing was ‘public’ hearing

To the Editor:

The Dec. 29 Ridgefield Press article “Long-running wetlands dispute to get hearing” quotes Wetland Board Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti as stating, “This is not a public hearing, this is a violation hearing. It’s a slightly different standard of review and public input.”  

In 2013, I reported that someone was blocking and diverting a stream away from my property and properties of downstream neighbors. Rather than address and abate this obvious violation, our Inland Wetland Board issued an Order of Remedy which would have made the violation permanent. I had no choice but to appeal that order.  

The court, in a stipulated judgment, sustained my appeal, vacated the Order of Remedy, remanded the matter to the board “for further proceedings” and concluded with the statement, “Any application or further enforcement proceedings shall include a public hearing.”

It appears, therefore, that Ms. Mucchetti’s statement, “this is not a public hearing” may be inconsistent with what the court ordered. A public hearing does not place “slightly different standards” on free and open public input.

It was and remains my position that the matter remanded to the board is not a “neighbor dispute” but a failure of the board, thus far, to enforce its regulations and abate the violation.

Citizens concerned about the health and well-being of our aquatic resources might want to consider attending and participating in the Jan. 10 Inland Wetland Board’s public meeting.

Michael J. Autuori