Local News

Moratorium on recreational marijuana sales in Danbury approved by Zoning Commission

A moratorium on recreational marijuana sales in Danbury has been approved by the Zoning Commission.  A public hearing was held Tuesday night on the pause, for a year or less, on new applications. 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro told the Commission that her office wanted the time to review the several-hundred pages of state legislation that took effect July 1st, having been approved only eight days prior.  There are nine types of licenses in the law, including for production, growing and manufacturing. all of which are currently prohibited in Danbury.  Calitro says the ban should apply equally to both medicinal and recreational, or not be in place. 

One member of the public, two City Councilmen and the Mayor spoke in favor of the temporary prohibition.  5 members of the public spoke against the proposal.  Zoners closed the hearing, and later voted unanimously in favor of the short-term ban. 

The medical marijuana moratorium in 2012 was proposed for a year, but was lifted before that time.  Resident Mike Deary noted that it was 8 years between palliative use of marijuana being approved by the state and the time a dispensary applied to come in.  He added that police have been evaluating stoned drivers and motorists impaired by other substances for years.  Deary says police will be freed up from prosecuting small time marijuana users. 

Carl Tirella, owner of the medical marijuana dispensary opening on Mill Plain Road, says any recreational establishment is allowed under the new law to deliver to any municipality in the state of Connecticut, not just the city or town where the facility is located.  He says that means any Danbury resident who wants recreational cannabis, delivery will still happen.

Others speaking in opposition to the moratorium noted that these facilities would bring jobs to the City. 

Councilman Paul Rotello says with the state giving municipalities only 3-percent of the sales tax, the revenue might not be worth it. 

Under the legislation, he noted that larger cities, including Danbury, can designate places where recreational marijuana use would be allowed.  He expressed concerns, and compared it to bar owners and bartenders that have liability if they allow someone visibly intoxicated to get behind the wheel and then cause an accident.  If Danbury were to designate a public space and something happens, he says the City could be liable.

Swastikas displayed on protest banner in Southbury being condemned

Swastikas displayed on a banner in Southbury are being condemned by the Connecticut chapter of the Anti-Defamation League. 

The sign appeared to show donkeys with swastikas on them, calling it the new logo for the Democratic Party.  The sign was on state land on Playhouse Corner.  A group of protestors put up the banner Saturday claiming those in the party are socialists, anti-American, anti-Jewish, anti-Second Amendment and pro-hate.  It called Democrats the modern day Nazi party. 

There's no criminal investigation into the incident at this time, being viewed as a freedom of speech issue. 

A special Board of Selectmen meeting was held in Southbury last night featuring a discussion and statement condemning the symbolism of the protest sign.  Town officials also discussed the American Rescue Plan Act Task Force and other issues.

"We are saddened and disturbed to learn that this has occurred in our Town. Southbury has a rich history of opposition to the Nazi symbol and what it stands for. The display of a swastika or similar symbols of hate, which are a false analogy to the reality of the Holocaust, have no place in Southbury. Displays such as this cheapen the memory of the millions of lives lost and ignore the trauma that lasts for generations. While our Board certainly respects the right of protestors to assemble peacefully and speak freely on topics of interest to them, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of any symbols of hate to do so.  The display of a swastika in the Town of Southbury is contrary to everything we believe in as a community.  Our Board stands strongly against hate and bigotry in all its forms, and together with all those in our community who expect and deserve to know that their elected leaders will work together to ensure that all people feel safe in Southbury."

Court documents to remain temporarily sealed in murder case against Danbury teen

Court documents in the murder case against a Danbury teenager will remain temporarily sealed.  A state judge yesterday issued the ordered during a brief hearing into the file of 17-year old Elvis Agramonte.  The documents will remain sealed through at least August 11th.  He was charged with murder and other crimes for allegedly shooting 18-year old Yhameek Johnson on Mill Ridge Road on June 20th.  Another hearing will be held on August 9th.  The investigation into the drive-by shooting is ongoing.  Agramonte, who is being tried as an adult, remains held on $1 million bail.  A Stratford teen was charged with hindering prosecution and other offenses this week in connection to the case. 

Local company touts signing of Solicitation of New Fuel Cell Electricity Generation Projects bill

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy is applauding a bill being signed into law about the Solicitation of New Fuel Cell Electricity Generation Projects. The bill requires the Connecticut utilities to solicit proposals to acquire new fuel cell electricity generation projects, to be approved by January 1st. The evaluation used in the proposal selection process will be based on both enhancing distribution energy system reliability and security, as well as support of microgrids to ensure critical resources continue to operate during power disruptions. The measure also gives preference for projects that are sited on brownfields.  The total amount of fuel cell generated capacity to be procured under this bill is 30 megawatts, which are to be apportioned to the two in-state local electrical distribution companies based on their respective distribution load.

Region 9 Board of Ed member seeks to primary Redding First Selectman

Redding's First Selectman could face a primary in her bid for another term.  A Region 9 Board of Education member is looking to unseat Democratic incumbent  Julia Pemberton.  Mike D’Agostino plans to try to primary, saying Redding is at a crossroads.  Pemberton, an eight-year incumbent, ran unopposed in her last two races.  D’Agostino needs 122 signatures of registered Democrats in Redding to qualify for a primary, which would take place on September 14th.  The Redding Democratic Town Committee endorsed Pemberton for a 5th term, while the Republicans this week chose John Shaban, who most recently was a state representative, for First Selectman.  Incumbent Selectman Michael Thompson gained the backing of the party to seek another term.

Brookfield Democrats endorse incumbents for another term

The Brookfield Democratic Town Committee has nominated a slate of candidates for November.  The ticket will be led by incumbents Steve Dunn for First Selectman and Sue Slater for Selectman.  They gained the backing of the party during a special meeting Sunday night to seek a 4th term in office.  The pair say there are some ongoing projects they would like to see through to completion, including construction of the new Candlewood Lake Elementary School and the streetscape project in the town center.  They will face a challenge from Tara Carr and Harry Shaker during the municipal election in a few months.

Brookfield Burn heads to Babe Ruth softball world series

A local group of kids is headed to the world series.  The Brookfield Burn, the town's 10 and under softball travel team, is in Florida to compete in the Babe Ruth softball world series.  The team swept the New England regional to make it to the national competition.  Teams will compete in brackets on August 2nd and 3rd, with the final championship game scheduled for the 4th.  The 12 Brookfield girls raised money from their neighbors, local businesses and a GoFundMe page so they could cover costs for each player and a guardian to make the trip.

Danbury hosts pop up COVID vaccine clinics

The Danbury Department of Health and Human Services is hosting a series of pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics today.  Danbury Library is hosting a clinic from 10am to 2pm with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson being offered.  From 2pm to 8, all three vaccines will be available.  The Connecticut Institute For Communities is hosting a clinic at their Main Street facility from 2 to 4:45pm, with the Pfizer vaccine offered.

Connecticut's daily COVID-19 test positivity rate is back on the rise. With 488 new cases reported yesterday from the day before, the daily positivity rate was 2.67 percent.  There's been a jump in COVID-19 testing in Connecticut, with more than 18,000 reported yesterday. 

Connecticut saw a slight drop in hospitalizations, down 3 to 105 patients.

911 cell phone issue in Danbury resolved

Verizon reports that the 911 cell phone routing situation has been resolved.  Danbury officials say AT&T advised them that a possible issue was identified with one of their processing servers with regards to the reported failed calls.  AT&T removed this processing server from the rotation as of Monday afternoon.  The Verizon issue was also impacting cell phone caller capability of reaching city departments as well.

Korean War Veterans Association in Danbury hosts ceremony

The Korean War Veterans Association in Danbury held a ceremony yesterday commemorating the 68th Anniversary of the Korean War.  Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Tom Saadi was in attendance and placed a rose at the Korean War Monument in memory of a fallen soldier.  The names of those killed in action and missing in action from the Danbury area were read by KWVA President Brendan Sniffin.

Training sessions hosted in Bethel this week for area firefighters

Firefighters in Bethel held training sessions this week.  Bethel Fire Department, along with Georgetown Volunteer and West Redding Volunteer Fire Departments, set up a tanker shuttle drill to practice moving water from a fill site to an emergency scene. 

Not every neighborhood has fire hydrants readily available so Bethel and surrounding towns have tanker trucks that hold 2000-3000 gallons. The drop tanks, big yellow pools, are used to hold water that is shuttled in by trucks as it is pumped up to fight a fire. 

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company hosted Connecticut Custom Fire Training LLC for a hands on class on standpipe operations at the Duracell parking garage. Members reviewed how to properly prep a standpipe prior to use, how to stretch hoses effectively up and down stairwells, proper operating pressures and various other topics.

Brookfield Volunteer and Hawleyville Volunteer Fire also took part in the drill.  The Fire Marshal's Office helped plan for this training.

Fairfield Hills Authority considering proposal for bicycle playground

The Fairfield Hills Authority is considering a proposal for a bicycle playground at the Fairfield Hills campus.  At their most recent meeting members heard that the facility for 3 to 12 year olds would include tunnels, seesaw tracks and zigzag turns.  Newtown Parks and Recreation Commission Director Amy Mangold says instruction and teaching kids how to ride safely will be the focus of the facility.  There is no proposed location for the bicycle playground.  Once that's decided, Parks and Rec will apply to the Planning and Zoning Department.  The Newtown Bike and Trail Committee supports the estimated $100,000 to $120,000 project, which would be paid for through grants, donations, in-kind services and town budget funding.

Kent School cleared of negligence for 2016 bike crash

Kent School has been cleared of negligence by a jury for a bike crash that severely injured a now former student.  The Newstimes reports that Danilo Bracho was in a coma for at least two months, underwent more than 20 surgeries, and sustained serious, long-term injuries in the 2016 accident.  His family filed a federal lawsuit against the school after her son crashed into a tree during a school-sponsored bike ride.  The private prep school required all students to enroll in an outdoor activity, and Bracho did not have his own bike and helmet as required for the activity, but was loaned a bike.  He failed to navigate a tight curve midway down a steep hill on Bulls Bridge Road.

UPDATED: Sandy Hook families react to proposed settlement from Remington

Remington Arms is offering millions to settle a lawsuit filed by nine families affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook School.  Court documents filed yesterday show the gun manufacturer is offering $3.6 million dollars to each family involved in the suit for a total of $33-million.  Remington argues that the legal firearm was legally distributed and sold and they are not responsible for the deaths on 12/14. 

An attorney representing the families, Josh Koskoff, issued a statement saying that the families will consider their next steps.  He says this case has been about preventing the next Sandy Hook, showing banks and insurers that companies that sell assault weapons to civilians are fraught with financial risk.  He says financial institutions like JP Morgan and Franklin Square learned that lesson when Remington went bankrupt.  He maintains that promoting the use of AR-15s as weapons of war to civilians is indefensible.

One of the plaintiffs, Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son Dylan died in the shooting, said Wednesday that the families need to talk with their lawyers about the settlement offers and declined further comment.

In their request to dismiss the lawsuit, Remington argued there were no facts presented to establish that Remington’s marketing had anything to do with the shooting.

Remington filed for bankruptcy last year for the second time in two years.  Its assets were later sold off to several companies.

New Fairfield man arrested for attempted murder of a police officer

A New Fairfield man has been arrested for attempted murder of a police officer for an incident last month in the town of Sharon.  State Police also charged 56-year old Thomas Farrington with assault and unauthorized possession of a weapon.  State Police say the charges stem from a standoff at the Housatonic Meadows campground off Route 7 on June 26. 

Trooper Patrick Carter responded to a report of a woman screaming inside a camper, but was confronted by an allegedly intoxicated Farrington.  Trooper Carter reported that Farrington's gun clicked repeatedly, but didn't fire any rounds.  Surrounding campers were evacuated as Farrington allegedly waved his gun around. 

Two handguns were found contained loaded cartridges, but no rounds in the chamber.  Neither were lawfully owned as Farrington’s pistol permit was previously revoked. 

The windows of the camper had been smashed and Farrington allegedly yelled expletives at Carter, threatened to stab a police K-9 to death, and screamed “kill me now...you bunch of punks.” 

Farrington was arrested on Route 6 in Bethel on Monday morning.  He was arraigned and ordered held on $750,000 bond.  He's due back in court on August 27th.

Consultant tells Danbury official traffic decreased in City on 12 state routes

Another meeting has been held about Danbury's Plan of Conservation and Development, which is updated every 10 years.  The meeting on the 20th focused on traffic and infrastructure.  FHI Studio manager Francisco Gomes says traffic volume on 12 state routes through the City has been trending downwards since 2004, while traffic on Interstate 84 has been stable.  The data analyzed from the state was only through 2018.



City Councilman Fred Visconti says they need to take a better look at what the experts did to come to that conclusion.  Gomes acknowledged that the numbers may not be representative of the entire city because they only have data from the state.  He notes that they will take comments into account when updating the master plan. 

Gomes added that the big question on traffic management, will be what to do to better manage the local increases. 

FHI senior transportation engineer Parker Sorenson says no capacity improvements have been made to the 12 state routes examined since 2004, so he doesn't expect there to be improvement. 

New Milford Town Council starts talks on legalized cannabis use

The New Milford Town Council has taken up the issue of legalized recreational marijuana.  At Monday's meeting, members discussed what the new state law means for the town and how to approach use and sales.  Mayor Pete Bass told the Town Council that it's now legal to smoke, so they should plan ahead for kind of unintended consequences with a regulated experience that provides security for everyone.  The state legislation allows municipalities to use zoning and other regulations to outline cannabis sales and places of use within their towns.  Bass raised the idea of prohibiting the use of cannabis on town properties, like the green, and schools.  The issue will likely be discussed again at the Town Council's August meeting.

Three portraits to join Marian Anderson on mural in Danbury

Three portraits will join Marian Anderson on a mural in Danbury.  RiseUP for Arts/CT Murals is partnering with CityCenter Danbury to paint a large-scale mural overlooking Kennedy Park that honors John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The mural of the three will be unveiled Monday afternoon.  CityCenter Executive Director Angela Wong says the wall is an ideal canvas to support an ambitious and meaningful project such as this.  The City is still finalizing the call to artists for the portrait of Anderson. Artist, ARCY, titles the mural of the other three, "Legends Live Forever.”  This project is funded by CityCenter Danbury and organized by RiseUP for Arts as part of a partnership to expand public art in the Downtown District.

Popular Connecticut bear put down after being hit by vehicle

EASTON, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut bear that became popular locally with its own Facebook page had to be put down by police after it was struck by a vehicle. Outpourings of grief were posted on the page after Easton police on Tuesday announced the death of the bear nicknamed "211" for the number on state environmental tags it had on both ears. Police said the bear was struck Monday evening and Easton officers had to put it down because it was suffering. People in several Connecticut towns and even Armonk, New York, posted photos and videos of 211 on Facebook.

Wilton Police wrap up Vehicle Theft Prevention Month with common sense message

July is Vehicle Theft Prevention month.  Wilton Police say most vehicle thefts are crimes of opportunity and therefore preventable.  They note that simple steps taken by owners and drivers can help to reduce these crimes of opportunity.  While they seem like common sense, Wilton Police are asking residents to lock doors and close all windows and sunroofs of unoccupied cars, park in a well-lit area whenever possible and remove all valuables from plain sight.  Police added that vehicles should never be left running while unattended.

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