Another long night of legal wrangling on Tuesday; public hearing pushed to March 27
WESTERLY – After another long night of testimony from lawyers and others involved in the Copar Quarries appeal before the Westerly Zoning Board, the public hearing was continued, again.
The zoning board heard three-and-a-half hours of testimony Feb. 27 from North Kingstown Attorney Robert Craven, who was appointed special zoning officer on the case on Dec. 27.
Liz Burdick, the original zoning officer, who issued the original cease and desist notices to Copar in August, has since been removed from the case and has not participated in any proceedings.
On Feb. 27, lawyers representing both the company and the town questioned Craven about the process that went into Burdick’s decision to bar Copar from working in areas outside of those outlined in a town zoning certificate.
Both the Feb. 27 and Tuesday meetings were presided over by Vice Chairman Frank Verzillo, who is acting as chairman since Chairman Robert Ritacco recused himself from the case at the Feb. 6 hearing, citing an unspecified business relationship with George Comolli, a principal with Westerly Granite, which owns the property on which Copar is located. Ritacco’s recusal left the board without a quorum and the hearing was continued to Feb. 27, then to Tuesday and now to March 27.
Proceedings began Tuesday with Jeffrey Gladstone, attorney for Copar Quarries, stating that this issue is a court matter and the zoning board does not have jurisdiction.
“The Supreme Court has stated for decades and on repeated occasions, that the scope of pre-existing non-conforming uses are to be dealt with by the Superior Court by a declaratory judgment action,” he said.
Gladstone also demanded that the zoning board subpoena Liz Burdick to attend a hearing and give testimony regarding her reasoning for issuing a notice of violation.
The zoning board is presently hearing the appeal of the original August notice of violation, though Craven issued a subsequent notice was issued late last month.
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