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Amaral-ZBA Lawsuit Settled, Property Uses Specified

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The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and Daniel Amaral have reached a settlement of the 2016 lawsuit that Mr Amaral filed against the ZBA concerning the land uses which are permitted at the Amaral Motors property at 40 South Main Street (Route 25).

On August 5, a Connecticut Superior Court judge in Danbury endorsed the settlement, which was proposed to the court by Mr Amaral, the plaintriff, and the ZBA, the defendant, following negotiations.

In June 2016, the ZBA had issued a cease-and-desist order against Mr Amaral citing violations of the zoning regulations concerning his use of the commercial property and citing the impermissable activity of parking commercial vehicles on the property.

Generally, under the terms of the agreement, Mr Amaral shall be permitted to maintain and sell used cars on the property within a specified area. No other areas of the property shall be used for that non-conforming purpose. That non-conforming use is connected to the land itself and is not personal to Mr Amaral.

Vehicle parking shall be permitted within a specified area on the property. However, such parking will be allowed only for registered and operational vehicles.

Construction equipment that is not registered is not allowed. Trailers without a registration are not allowed. Non-operational vehicles may only be kept there if they are in the process of being repaired.

The settlement contains information on what size commercial vehicles are allowed to be parked on what sections of the property. The stockpiling, storage, or dumping of junk, unusable auto parts, construction materials, and debris is prohibited. Any such materials now there must be removed.

A formal landscaping plan for the site must be implemented by Mr Amaral.

The agreement shall last for one year, with the option to renew it for four one-year terms, provided that the conditions of the agreement are being met. The town will conduct periodic inspections to ensure compliance with the agreement.

Mr Amaral was a member of the Legislative Council when he filed the court appeal in August 2016. He no longer is a council member.

The 40 South Main Street site holds an 8,420-square-foot automotive repair garage and land south of that building that is used for the storage of commercial and personal vehicles. The site is in a B-2 (General Business) zone. Amaral Motors had been a Chrysler/Plymouth auto dealership until 2009, when Chrysler withdrew its automobile franchise. The business also sold gasoline in the past.

According to the lawsuit, the zoning enforcement officer’s action to prohibit used car sales at the property amounts to “a taking of a substantial part of the plaintiff’s business.”

As such, the lawsuit appealed the ZBA’s July 13, 2016, decision to uphold the zoning enforcement officer’s cease-and-desist order prohibiting the sale of used cars at the property. When Amaral had sold new vehicles at the property, the sale of used cars was allowed there as an accessory use for the new car dealership, but since the new car business was no longer there, used car sales were then prohibited.

The ZBA did not uphold the zoning enforcement officer’s ruling that the land south of the garage amounts to a “junkyard.” Junkyards are not permitted by the zoning regulations.

Commenting on the settlement of the lawsuit, Mr Amaral said, “It took too long to settle.”

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said August 7, “Dan Amaral and his family have contributed much to our community, but regrettably we had an unfortunate zoning matter to resolve. I am pleased that we were able to reach a favorable resolution for both parties so as to avoid protracted litigation.”

Town Planning Director George Benson commented, “The settlement agreement with Danny Amaral will result in a visual improvement of the property and will eventually result in zoning conformity.”

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