Stamford Reps to Vote Wednesday on Petitioning Lamont for a Special Session


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STAMFORD – The Board of Representatives will vote Wednesday on whether to ask Gov. Ned Lamont to call a special session of the state legislature to remove legislation quietly passed last month to prohibit towns from changing certain zoning regulations.

City representatives issued a copy of the resolution asking Lamont to reconvene the legislature, along with a press release saying  Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons, a former state representative, was behind the legislation, known as a “rat” in Hartford because it’s tailed onto a major bill at the last minute so it will pass with little scrutiny. 

“The City of Stamford’s mayor went to Hartford on June 7th, the last day of the state’s legislative session, and got an unknown legislator to add a paragraph of language to Public Act 23-205, also known as The Bond Bill, that prevents all municipalities in the State of Connecticut with Charters … from changing most of their charter land-use provisions,” according to the press release, which city Rep. Nina Sherwood said she wrote as a board member, not majority leader.

“This paragraph of language, section 158, also known colloquially as a “rat,” was added to the bond bill only a few hours before passage, and the majority of the Stamford legislators did not even know it was inserted,” the statement reads. “It was not debated or subject to a public hearing. This language effectively disenfranchises the residents of Stamford from deciding for themselves what should be in their charter and does the same to the residents of more than 110 Connecticut municipalities that also have charters.”


According to a copy of the resolution, the provisions tucked into the bond bill were “clearly and specifically intended to obstruct the Charter Revision Commission,” which met for more than 14 months “in full view of the public (in) twenty-six full commission meetings, sixty-four additional meetings of its committees, and two statutory hearings, in accordance with law.”

The charter revision process “is designed to end with a referendum affording each voter the chance to vote to approve or reject” the proposals, the resolution reads, but the legislation tucked into the bond bill was “never reviewed by a committee or subjected to the usual public and legislative scrutiny,

further revealing that the provisions were designed to eliminate public debate and participation” in charter revision.

According to the resolution, the disputed section of law “was introduced for the purpose of nullifying major portions of the Charter Revision Commission’s draft report, disenfranchising the electors of the City of Stamford of their right to vote and directly weigh in on many of the most pressing issues in Stamford.”

The resolution asks Lamont to “immediately call the Connecticut General Assembly to a special session” to be held on or before July 31.

Lamont’s director of communications, Adam Joseph, did not return a request for comment Monday. 

Simmons’ office also did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Lamont signed the bond bill last week, enacting the charter revision restrictions attached to it.

The new legislation blocked proposed charter changes that would:

  • Allow residents to take part in appealing zoning decisions anywhere in the city

  • Allow modification of planning and zoning regulations, such as increasing the number of public hearings

  • Require approval from a larger percentage of officials before the city could take private property by eminent domain or sell public land

Simmons has said she “advocated” against those proposals in Hartford because they would thwart development and economic growth, discourage private investment, and shrink the housing stock.

Representatives have said the proposals would have answered calls from residents who have been demanding more say in zoning matters. 

But Stamford residents will not get to vote on the proposals because the new state law has banned them before they could get on the ballot, representatives said in the press release.

Representatives and members of the Stamford Charter Revision Commission met for six hours on June 21 to deliberate the changes – spending most of their time discussing the zoning proposals – only to find out the next day that they were outlawed by the legislature two weeks earlier. 

Representatives said during a public hearing last week that they are furious with Simmons for not telling them that the legislation had been slipped into the bond bill. 

Now their dispute with the mayor has escalated.

In the press release accompanying the resolution that will be before the board on Wednesday, representatives wrote that, as mandated by city and state laws, they began revising the charter early last year by creating a commission. 

Charter revision is mandated every 10 years. This commission has 15 members, all citizen volunteers. They made “draft amendments based off of a lengthy charge that was given to them by the Board of Representatives, other public officials, and the members of Stamford’s citizenry,” the press release states.

“Some of that charge, which was voted on by the majority of the Board of Representative members, included many Land Use provisions that have gotten the City of Stamford into lengthy legal disputes, including two that have gone to the Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut. In those cases the court recommended that Stamford’s charter be clarified to avoid future litigation,” the press release states. “The Charter Revision Commission clarified and bolstered those sections.”

The commission, for example, recommended “increasing the threshold for executing the use of eminent domain and the sale of public property from a majority of the Board of Representatives and Board of Finance to a two-thirds super-majority,” it states, because “there have been a number of times that the City of Stamford used eminent domain in a controversial way.”

According to the press release, the petition was written by city Rep. Nina Sherwood, Democratic majority leader of the Board of Representatives; city Rep. Virgil de la Cruz, a Democrat and a deputy majority leader; Republican city Rep. Bradley Bewkes, co-chair of the board’s Charter Revision Committee; and Mike Larobina, Republican vice chair of the Charter Revision Commission.

The resolution can be viewed at

Wednesday’s Board of Representatives meeting begins at 7 p.m. and can be viewed at

or using webinar ID 814 7054 1826. It can be viewed by telephone at 1-646-558-8656 using webinar ID 814 7054 1826.

This story has been updated to clarify the role of city Rep. Nina Sherwood in the petition

Angela Carella

For 36 years prior to joining the Connecticut Examiner, Angela Carella was a beat reporter, investigative reporter, editor and columnist for the Stamford Advocate. Carella reports on Stamford and Fairfield County. T: 203 722 6811.