To the Editor:
I want to preface this article by stating that I loathe negative politics. However, when the politicians responsible for managing our town demonstrate an astonishing combination of poor decision making and willful misrepresentation of facts, bringing that to light will certainly be viewed as negative. So be it.
United Illuminating is planning to erect nearly five miles of 100-130-foot-tall monopoles along the train tracks in Fairfield, stretching from Southport to Fairfield Metro. Many residents and business owners along the route only found out about the extent of the project and how it could affect their properties this past summer. Residents are understandably upset and looking to our First Selectwoman to lead and protect their interests from these intrusive and permanent blights on our landscape and property value.
However—despite her claims—our First Selectwoman has spectacularly failed to lead or protect the town’s interests. The administration had meetings with UI to go over the plans and maps over the course of three months in 2021. In March of this year, UI sent the town a copy of the project application for the project and informed the town it could become party to the proceeding by giving the Siting Council notice of intent with a July deadline. In that time, BJ’s became an intervenor before the deadline, but the town did not.
In August, during a Board of Selectmen meeting, the First Selectwoman claimed “I was unaware there was a deadline of any sort,” and in an October 3, newsletter, she wrote, “In August, I became aware the Town was able to apply to be an intervenor.” That contradicts what she said on the Lisa Wexler Show on September 29: “The town was working with UI throughout the process, in the conference room, meeting, looking at maps, giving input like I said from all those departments. And so ‘a little late’ is we filed for intervenor status and it’s been accepted so, this is the process.”
Fairfield missed a clearly noticed deadline to apply for intervenor status in July. Was that a mistake? Why were residents left “in the dark” on this issue with the FSW only taking action in response to their outrage? One needs only to read the testimony on the Siting Council website or listen to the recent public meeting to know that the administration has been working with Elicit Brewing (a brewery taking over the old Planet Fitness building) on the impact of these monopoles for some time now. She has also shown herself willing to use her newsletter to promote any issue that matters to her, such as urging voters to approve the ill-fated Charter revision. Somehow the monopole project never rose to that level of importance?
Perhaps she should have read her own newsletter from December 2022, where she explained the project and touted its benefits, saying “these upgrades will help maintain system reliability, promote climate resiliency, preserve safety within and adjacent to the transmission lines and provide technological enhancements to legacy system equipment.” She invited the public to a January 11 informational meeting. Unfortunately, the public can’t access these documents now because the “new and improved” town website is full of missing and broken links.
Instead, you can visit the CT Siting Council website, where there are records of extensive interaction between United Illuminating and town officials, including The First Selectwoman, regarding this project. Any savvy town leader engaged in these discussions should have retained the services of a land-use lawyer months or even years ago. Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that with her tenure as a State Representative that First Selectwoman Kupchick doesn’t know exactly how the Siting Council operates as she represented her former district with utility issues over the years.
This entire issue strains credibility and calls competency into question. A change is required if the challenges facing our town are to be met effectively. For that reason I urge all to Vote Gerber/Vitale on November 7th