Letter: Zemo should have recused himself from wetlands, planning vote

To the Editor:

Last Wednesday, a hearing with the selectmen was held for public feedback on the Charter Commission recommendations. One item was the separation of the Inland Wetlands Board (IWB) from the Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z).  

The nine members are the judge and jury for both the building plans and the environmental impact (no current members are Wetland or Environmental experts).  

The Conservation Commission argued that the combined Commission/Board hasn’t used best practices and gave examples. One of the examples was a cement wall at the new Coach Homes site that separates it from the wetlands.  

I didn’t get the impression that Selectman Zemo appreciated criticism of the project.  

He was hostile while questioning those in favor of having an independent IWB.  

At one point, he stated that he had “one more question” saying that he’d like to thank the Planning and Zoning Commission for “the great job they do.”  

Of course, it wasn’t a question; Mr. Zemo just wanted to take the opportunity to start an ad campaign for a commission that approves everything he puts in front of them.  It must be nice to be a builder/developer who is a selectman.

At the end of the evening, Mr. Zemo campaigned to his fellow selectman that P&Z and IWB should not be separated. His argument was “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  

Of course, it ain’t broke for Selectman Zemo but it doesn’t mean Ridgefield doesn’t deserve environmental experts as stewards on an IWB. Not every resident gets rich on new developments approved.  

If the residents don’t get a chance to vote on separating P&Z from the IWB, we can thank Mr. Zemo for unduly influencing his fellow selectman.  

One thing is clear, Steve Zemo should have recused himself from voting on this issue; a clear conflict of interest.

Jeff Hansen

Old South Salem Road, July 22