Saturday, February 12, 2011

Open Letter on Inland Wetlands to the residents of East Haven

Richard Poulton

First, I want to provide a little back ground.  I served on the East Haven Inland Wetlands & Watercourse Commission for approximately 13 years, with the majority of that time as Vice Chairman.  Under the guidance of Chairman Ron Andrade, we had a group of volunteer residence making up the commission that were well schooled in its rules and regulations, and were at all times non-political in its hearing of applications.  I was also the only member of the Commission that received training by the D.E.P. in various aspects of the wetland regulations, which authorized me to approve and act on certain applications coming in for review.   In March 2010, well dedicated members were not re-appointed by the administration, and positions filled with those who will take orders from those in the administration.  This was no longer to be an independent thinking commission.  Leadership was changed.  Wanting no part of this, I resigned. 
I am writing this as to educate you on your rights and obligations when thinking of doing a project on your property and there is the possibility of a wetland area is involved that may require you to appear in front of the commission for approval.
Point of law.  Local wetland/watercourse regulations are derived from Connecticut General Statutes 22a-36 through 22a-45a.  These State Statutes are mirrored in wording, making up the East Haven Inland Wetlands/Watercourse Regulations.  I strongly recommend that anyone wishing to conduct an activity on their property to obtain a copy of the regulations prior to commencement of applying for approval as to educate yourself.  You have rights.  Not everything requires an application. Copies can be obtained at the town engineer’s office at a small cost.
You may not think you have any wetlands on your property, so you may be forced to get a soil scientist inspection at a high cost even though your property does not depict such on the town’s wetland mapping.  Wetlands in this State are determined by soil content, not necessarily just having a “wet” area. 
Even though the commissions normally will deny an application that has a direct impact or intrusion to a wetland/watercourse area, it cannot be denied if it is shown that there are no other alternatives and that all feasible and prudent alternatives do not exist (Section 10.3).   Don’t be fooled.
Most of the applications heard by the commission involve an activity in the area outside of the “wetland/watercourse”.  This is known as the Upland Review Area, and in East Haven that is described as being 50 feet from the known wetland/watercourse border.  This is the sticky point when it comes to the need for obtaining a regulated activity application at a cost of approximately $120.00.
Connecticut General Statute 42a(f), as well as Section 10.6 of the regulations, state that the commission can only regulate or condition an activity outside of the known wetland/watercourse location when that activity will have a direct impact on that wetland or watercourse.  This point is very important to understand.  The Upland Review Guidelines booklet can be obtained on line thru the DEP’s web site  or and look for inland wetland regulations or upland review info.  In a nut shell, you would be required to apply for a regulated activity if the activity is found to have a direct impact, and that is basically determined by what happens to surface water.  Will the activity cause a loss of water that will starve the wetlands or will it cause a flooding to the wetlands.   There are other areas that will cause the requirement for a regulated activity application.  Read the guidelines and educate yourself. 
The current town engineer has required everyone that has wetlands or a watercourse on their property to submit an application to the commission even though the activity will not impact the wetlands.  By the time the commission gets to review the proposal the following month, your check has been cashed.  Remember, an activity outside the wetland area can only be conditioned or regulated if the activity will have a direct impact to the wetlands or watercourse. 
Know the law, review and understand what is required by statute and regulations.  Don’t be fooled or intimidated to submit for something that is not required.  For example, in June of 2010, a home owner wanted to remove a deck and build a larger one in its place.  The activity did not involve anything that would hinder a small wetland area at the rear of his property.  He was made to submit a regulated activity application, costing approximately $120.00.  At no time was the work to be performed have an impact the wetlands.  He lost his money. The commission actually placed conditions on him forcing the property owner to dig his concrete tube holes by hand.  
Section 2 of the Regulations depicts definitions you should also be familiar with.  Such as what is a “Regulated Activity”; or when does something become a “Significant Activity”.   
Again, don’t be intimidated by these people.  The town engineer is a P.E..  He should review the proposed activity and make a determination if activity will affect the wetlands.  Again you should be aware, if activity outside the wetland area has no effect to the actual wetland area, as defined within the Upland Review Guidelines, then that activity cannot be regulated or conditioned, thus no need to apply for such a permit.  But the T.E. will tell you it is needed anyway. The only time one should be required to submit for a Regulated Activity Permit, is one, if the proposed activity is occurring in the actual wetland/watercourse area; or the activity in the Upland Review area falls under one of the defined categories within the guidelines booklet and will have a direct impact on the wetlands or watercourse.  Don’t throw your money away.  If you know for a fact and can establish that the proposed activity falls outside the preview of Upland Review, having no impact what so ever to a wetland/watercourse area and are still forced to apply for a regulated activity application, prove your point on the record at the meeting, then file a written complaint with the D.E.P.’s  Wetlands Management Section, Bureau of Water Management.  Also demand a return of your funds.  Get everything on the record. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

East Haven Democrat Leader claims transparency

In a time where many people mistrust government and anything associated with it we are hearing from some members of the April Capone Almon Administration that they are the most transparent government. I think the reason why many people turn government off like an infomercial is because they just cannot believe it to be true or there is an annoying salesman pushing the sale.

Right here in East Haven the Democratic Town Chairman Gene Ruocco is proclaiming that the Almon Administration is transparent. With his articles on East Haven PATCH and several of his comments on PATCH's stories you hear Mr. Ruocco paint Almon’s Administration with the highest praise and of course no fault. He reserves that for Joe Maturo’s Administration and all of us “obstructionists” from the Republican side. Offer a different point of view or have an opinion and you are labeled, mocked and even insulted.

Just recently, I challenged the Democrat leader, Gene Ruocco and asked him very pointed questions which he struggled to answer. Here are my questions.

Have you or anyone in your family benefited financially since April became Mayor with Town jobs and positions on boards and commissions?

The facts are that yes indeed Mr. Ruocco and members of his family have personally benefited by having this Administration in charge of the Town of East Haven. Mr. Ruocco was appointed by Mayor April Capone to the powerful East Haven Zoning Board and was elected chairman in 2009 he also serves on the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Authority (GNHWPA) which is a paid position, approximately $12K per year. His daughter Stacey Ruocco Monico works in the Mayor’s office as a secretary. All of these positions Ruocco claims he either had no control over or they were appointments by the Mayor. In the case of the GNHWPA, he had the experience for the position because when he was in the IBEW serving as an electrician he worked inside the building and he knew the system. Regardless of how or what Mr. Ruocco's qualifications are mere thought of transparency that Mr. Ruocco claims is diminished and nepotism and quid pro quo is more apparent.

Have other senior administrators in the Capone Almon administration gained favor for their families with jobs and positions in the Town?

This question received a vile response of threats of exposing members of the Maturo Administration for receiving big jobs and big payoffs for the last 10 years and Mr. Ruocco contacting his attorney's for claims of libel and slander.

 But that was not the question I asked. This will be a follow up story, I am still gathering my data but I promise it will be an eye opener!

It is clearly obvious that Mr. Ruocco’s claims of transparency are what he truly believes. But that is not the reality. Things in East Haven are not getting better and some of them are not the direct fault of the Administration but of the National economy.

What East Haven residents need is straight and honest talk. I am not saying there is anything wrong with doing favors for friends and families just don’t insult the residents of the Town of East Haven by claiming to be transparent when you truly are not.

Lastly, I strongly informed Mr. Ruocco that since he is an elected Public Official his claims of libel and slander are not held to the same standard of a private citizen. The information I have reported is factual based on the questions asked. It is up to the reader to determine if there is truth behind it. I ask you three things.  Go to the Mayors Office and meet Stacey, goto the Zoning Meetings and see Gene at the head of the table and attend the GNHWPCA meetings and see Gene sitting there.

I can assure you all of the information I provided is truthful and straight and remember the next time you hear that someone in your family is struggling to make ends meet that East Haven's transparent government is working hard for you.

Till next time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I have received several email requests to allow comments. Although I am not truly in favor of them because they go off message and become personal at times. I will allow them. There are a few rules

1)  You must log in with an email address
2)  You have to do a word verification
3)  Comments are screened for relavent and civil discord.

Thanks for visiting the East Haven Vine

Monday, February 7, 2011

Town Council Meeting 2-8-2011

Tomorrow the East Haven Town Council will hold two meetings. First at 7pm will be a Public Hearing regarding these topics (agenda). Specifically, it is most important that you pay close attention to the 1.2 million dollars needed to be bonded in order to pay for lawsuits that Mayor has settled. While I agree that these suit needed to be settled the Mayor has violated the Town Charter because there was a lack of proper funding in the account. According to our Charter, when the funds are depleated the Mayor must go before the Town Council to seek approval.

The Second Meeting (agenda) is a special meeting approving the items on the first meeting. With a 12 to 3 Democrat over Republican I expect that this entire agenda will pass. I might add that all of the members of the Town Council should admonish the Mayor for once again breaking the Town Charter.

If you've never come to a Town Council Meeting I implore you to do so.

East Haven Senior Center
91 Taylor Avenue
East Haven

Saturday, February 5, 2011

East Haven’s lack of focus on a National Problem fails to deliver needed training for our Police

Our Town has been the subject of recent criticism for its handling of its growing Hispanic population and there is one potential solution to the way law enforcement handles suspected illegal aliens that both Town Hall and the East Haven Police Commission should explore. What has been recognized by all sides is that our Police Department needs a policy and training on how to handle suspected illegal aliens. Illegals aliens have been accused of many violations including possessing illegal license plates, fake drivers licenses, fake insurance cards and other illegal documents.

The Federal Government offers local Police Departments free grants called 287g through ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) that offers State and Local police intensive training on how to handle, process and detain illegal aliens. Most important they emphasize an anti-racial profiling style that may have benefited some of our Officers especially in what is happening currently in East Haven.

The 287g program offers many wonderful training opportunities for Police Officers. This information I received from its website (

287(g) Training Programs
·         ICE continues to review, assess and improve the existing 287(g) basic course as well as the 287(g) refresher course to address issue areas identified in the OIG report through coordination with internal and external stakeholders.
·         ICE offers a four-week training program for local officers.
·         The training includes coursework in immigration law, how to use ICE databases, multi-cultural communication and the avoidance of racial profiling.
·         The training is conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's Charleston South Carolina campus.
Further research for this program pinpoints critical areas of importance cited in Mayor April Administrations proposal to stave off further Federal action in August 2010 and it specifically notes racial profiling I also obtained from its website.

Racial Profiling
·         Racial profiling is simply not something that will be tolerated; and any indication of racial profiling will be treated with the utmost scrutiny and fully investigated. If any proof of racial profiling is uncovered, that specific officer or department could have their agreement rescinded.
·         In addition to the training these officers receive from their local departments, the 287(g) training includes coursework on multicultural communication and the avoidance of racial profiling.

Sadly, we missed the boat! The pure benefits of this program would greatly improve the relationship between the legal Hispanic population and our Police Department. Citing from ICE’s website, their Outreach & Communications along with its Benefits would have been a much better approach to handling the tension between our Police Department and the Hispanic Community. The mistrust erupted in a protest by Hispanics  on August 8, 2009 to where we are today.  ICE has an outreach and communications program as written below that could have accomplished enforcing the law and bridging the gap between this ethnic group and our local government and Police Department.

Outreach and Communications
·         ICE restructured OSLTC to establish an outreach and communications component in February 2010 to provide public education, building and maintaining transparent partnerships with LEAs, external stakeholders, NGOs and community leaders. The core mission of the outreach and communications include efforts to:
·         Establish and facilitate steering committees in each 287(g) jurisdiction with set mission, objectives, and responsibilities.
·         Build, foster and strengthen communications with internal and external stakeholder groups and community leaders.
·         Coordinate federal intergovernmental communications to provide effective oversight, supervision and management of the 287(g) program.

·         By working together, local and federal officers can better identify and remove criminal aliens – which is a tremendous benefit to public safety.
·         One of the biggest benefits to our 287(g) partners is that they are able to better identify who they have in custody.

Although not founded, it is suspected that someone within the East Haven Police Department or the Mayor April’s Administration wrote to the Department of Justice to ask them to investigate alleged racial profiling. Currently, the Town was placed on notice that several of its Police Officers were given subpoenas in the alleged racial profiling case and we are all still awaiting the Department of Justice findings.

I have wonder why if the East Haven Police Commission and Mayor April’s Administration even knew about this program and if they did why they did not try this approach? It’s a matter of being proactive instead of reactive and clearly the warning signs of confrontation were clear as day from the August 8, 2009 protest in East Haven.

At this point all this community can do is sit back and wait for the stinging report that is going to most likely result in many negative actions towards our Police, Administration and Town. It might even cost the taxpayers dearly. Furthermore, the moral of our Police Department continues to decline as this situation hangs over many of their heads and you wonder if they feel if they have the support to enforce the laws of our Town.

It is not good when the Town ends up on the short end of the stick. East Haven could have been looked at as a model, instead we look indecisive and weak. The end result is the taxpayer will have to reach into their pockets more to pay for more mismanagement and lack of vision.

The Farce of the East Haven Police Commission

Going to the East Haven Police Commission Meeting in January 2011 was an absolute display of how much contempt the Police Commission has for our Police Department. During the meeting the Union's Attorney was defending a series of grievances and two were specifically surrounding the lawsuits for the alleged Civil Rights Violations by our Police Officers and whether the Town was going to properly defend the officers involved. When the Union Attorney asked the Commission if they supported the officers the Board would not answer. Imagine that, the Police Commission would not stand up and support the very people they watch over and set policy for.

Not surprising the Board is made up of all April Capone Almon appointees and is completely controlled by the Mayor. The lone Republican Marie Saddig is nothing but a puppet for the Mayor and offers no insight or opposing views or even collaborates with any Republicans in East Haven. She is nothing more than a RINO- Republican in Name Only.

It is a true sad state of affairs when it comes to the East Haven Police Commission. Attend these meetings they are usually held at the last Tuesday of the Month at the East Haven Senior Center.

See you then