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P&Z Chairman Rick Zini Resigns

Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Richard Zini submitted a letter of resignation on Thursday.

Richard Zini, a senior architect at Doyle-Coffin Architecture in Ridgefield, was first elected to serve on the Monroe Planning & Zoning Commission in 2007 and was chairman for the past three years, leading it through the updating of the Town Plan of Conservation & Development and heading its subcommittee on capital projects. On Thursday, he resigned from the commission.

In a short letter to Town Clerk Marsha Beno, Zini wrote:

Dear Madame Clerk,

Effective this date, I formally notify your office of my retirement from the Planning & Zoning Commission as both an elected Commissioner and its Chairman. It has been my honor to serve the Town of Monroe as a volunteer elected official. I wish the best for the Town going forward in all its endeavors. I thank the Town and my fellow residents for their support, and the opportunity to be of service to the community.

Sincerely,

Richard A. Zini, Jr.

A voicemail was left on Zini's cell phone seeking comment on what spurred his decision and he sent Patch an email politely declining to comment.

On Friday morning, the Town Clerk expressed sadness at Zini's decision to resign.

"It's a loss for the town," Beno said. "I think he served the town well, being Planning & Zoning Commission chairman and heading up CIFAP, that was a monumental task he had."

First Selectman Steve Vavrek said, "He's going to be sorely missed. He's done a lot to get Planning & Zoning to work on the regulations and to follow its POCD. He was instrumental in getting the land use department reorganized, which is something we worked on together."

Last year, Zini was honored at the Monroe Republicans' annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner as the "Rising Republican Star". "Under Rick's leadership, the P&Z Commission has been revitalized and has recently completed the Plan of Conservation and Development — the master plan for Monroe for the next 10 years in addition to working on the revisions to Monroe's Zoning Regulations," the GOP press release said.

Originally from Massachusetts, Zini moved to Monroe in 2004. "In his free time, Rick enjoys spending time with his family sailing the New England coastline," according to the press release.

'A Jewel of Monroe'

On Friday, Republican Town Committee Chairman Jeff Guttman said he was "a little surprised," when Zini had resigned. It was on the same day of a Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.

"I know that he's been tremendously busy at work and it's hard to sometimes juggle a lot," Guttman said.

However, he deferred to Zini when asked what spurred his decision to step down.

"Rick Zini has been a jewel of Monroe in the past 5-and-a-half-years, getting our land use development wing together and trying to push Monroe forward on the right foot, and getting things done right," Guttman said. "He's going to be sorely missed, not only by the staff at town hall and the commission, but by the public because he's been on their side since the day he came to the town of Monroe and got involved."

"The way I know Rick, he's never going to really be gone," Guttman said. "He'll be there. If anyone needs to ask anything, he'll be there."

The Town Council must approve a Republican candidate to fill the opening created on the Planning & Zoning Commission. Guttman encourages interested candidates to visit MonroeCTGOP.com.

Democratic Town Committee Chairman Nick Kapoor, who attends P&Z Commission meetings as the Town Council liaison, said of Zini, "I think that he was a fair chairman. The meetings that I attended, he had always given each applicant their chance. He gave everybody a chance.

"He knew the law. He knew the Connecticut General Statutes. He knew the Monroe zoning regulations backwards and forwards. He knew what he was talking about — and that is very important being on a commission that deals exclusively with Connecticut law and the Monroe zoning regulations, which is in itself law related."

Moving On

On Thursday night, P&Z Vice Chairman Patrick O'Hara led the meeting.

"I'm proud of every one of the commissioners for stepping up for the people of the town of Monroe," he said of their carrying on with a full agenda that included three public hearings.

O'Hara declined to elaborate on Zini's tenure, but did say, "You don't find guys like Rick Zini coming to public service everyday."

A special meeting will be held at 6:45 p.m. next Thursday, in which the commission will elect its new chairman. Its regular meeting will follow at seven.

Commissioner William Porter had been a member of CIFAP and will now serve as chairman of the committee in Zini's place. He will also represent the town at Greater Bridgeport Regional Council meetings with First Selectman Steve Vavrek.

Prior to his resignation, Zini was the longest seated P&Z commissioner.

Kevin and Alice July 22, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Regarding the "George Leo" post: First of all the individual is clearly a very uneducated backwoods hillbilly. My wife and I are both practicing architects  in Westport CT. NEITHER of us have a license, we do not need one,  we practice under the license of our office just like 90% of our industry. To say Mr.  Zini is not even an architect  just because he does not have a license is pure stupidity and invalidates "George Leo's" entire post. This man is clearly a disgruntled resident looking to attack Mr. Zini for purley personal reasons.  If you read his post he has appeared before Mr.Zini- and clearly did not like his answers so lets make up lies about him- how ridicouls can you be? What a low class nobody ranting about his personal grudges with nothing better to do than make up lies about a person volunteering their time. I am surprised that Mr.Zini lasted this long. I have attended several meetings of P&Z and found him to be nothing short of professional with a very friendly personality. Thank you "George Leo" for your uneducated post and for letting any other normal, working, educated person know to stay far away from any volunteer position within this town- Bravo. Thank you Mr. Zini for your time on P&Z - those of us that are not 1 level up on the evolutionary chart from a turtle  very much appreciate the time you gave Monroe-
Kevin and Alice July 22, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Really great job Rick- what a loss for this town. I agree 100% with Kevin and Alice !!!!!!!
jim laguardia July 22, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Wait.... Kevin and Alice agree 100% with Kevin and Alice ???
Peter B. July 22, 2012 at 10:50 PM
I work in their office and wanted to comment as well- I did not realize they were logged in when I left my response. Peter Brenen
Kevin and Alice July 22, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Sorry Pete- my fault not logging off!
Ed Hocken July 23, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Kudos to Steve Vavrek and the Republican leadership for forcing the resignation of Mr. Zini. He illegally misrepresented his credentials which he used as the basis for his election and to give credibility to his public arguments. When this fraud came to light, Mr.Vavrek and the Republican leadership acted expediently and decisively to remove him from office. While this may be an embarassement to the Republicans, they have effectively avoided a scandal which could have easily diverted the attention of our governing officials from issues that are more pressing to this community. Mr. O'Hara has been a long-term advocate of the community, and I look forward to his leadership of this ever important commission.
Ed Hocken July 23, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Donna - Not only should the elected officials be honest with us when they resign, they should also be honest with us when they run for election and when they serve us. For some further enlightenment, you may want to review my comments to the following Patch article: http://monroe.patch.com/articles/let-s-go-to-the-audio-tape
Ed Hocken July 23, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Kevin and Alice - I would suggest that you refer to Section 20-290 of the Connecticut General Statutes which states, “In order to safeguard life, health and property, no person shall practice architecture in this state, except as provided in this chapter or use the title ‘architect’, or display or use any words, letters, figures, title, sign, seal, advertisement or other device to indicate that such person practices or offers to practice architecture, unless such person has obtained a license as provided in this chapter.” Contrary to your delusions, if your are not licensed, you cannot legally call yourself an architect. You should consider taking the architecture licensing examination, although it is quite challenging.
Mansfield July 23, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Come on Ed, give us a break. The only ones who believe you are yourself, O'Hara, and other fools. Zini was thrown under the bus for questioning Vavrek's lack of leadership. Zini has been vocal about how poorly Vavrek has managed this town. Mr. O'Hara is an advocate for himself. He does not represent Monroe and has proven to be anti-business, anti-family and a leading voice against our schools. What experience does he have? How is he qualified? He has no respect for the town of Monroe. The only thing O'Hara does well is manipulate Vavrek. Why should this family oriented town support someone who stated in public that he does not want any families moving into town. Sounds a little twisted to me. As for Vavrek, why has he allowed O'Hara to spend half a million dollars fighting business developers. Don't we want more business coming to town? The fraud in town is being exposed thanks to Patch!
Sam July 23, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Really Ed? That is a ridicoulus comment. You sound like a child that knows nothing about what is going on. The town lost a great guy in Zini. Let's give Pat a chance at a thankless job. Agree 100% with above comment.
Kevin and Alice July 23, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Ed- you are 100% wrong. Trying to explain to you is a waste of time. How condescending to say that the exam is difficult. I am sure that behind your aggressive web persona lies a weak, awkward, uneducated, cyber jockey that has nothing better to do with his time.
Monroe Guy July 23, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Pat O'Hara gunna run the P&Z. Pat be a good republican and a merican farmer to and he gunna show dem liberial demegrates how a farmin community should be run. Pat said he don’t like no familys be movin here and he be rite about that. We don’t need no new binniss here neither and he gunna keep um out. This be a farmin town and Pat gunna keep it that way.
Barney July 23, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Monroe Guy be right. O'Hara be understanding that education lovers and interlopers have no business being here in Monroe. Business have no business being here in Monroe. This be a farming community. With a normal folk being a chairman Monroe can go back 40 years ago to being a farming community. Keep fighting for the normal folk mr. O'Hara. Keep telling everyone to vote no on every budget. It not be mattering how much money you be spending though. You be using all that money to fight business and be making Monroe normal again. Just like mr. Vavrek says. Thank you Mr. O'Hara and please keep supporting Mr. Vavrek.
Unbelievable July 23, 2012 at 07:45 PM
O'Hara as P&Z Chairman, God Help Us! O'Hara is the most politically divisive person in the whole town, maybe even the whole state.
cmu268 July 23, 2012 at 09:53 PM
As someone who is aspiring to be an architect, I have to agree with Ed Hocken. I've recently started taking the Architect Registration Examination and have been studying for many months and it is expressly stated in many materials that it is against the law and there is a ton of liability associated with advertising oneself as an architect when not officially licensed by the state. If you don't have a license, you are merely working for someone who practices architecture, much like myself. And yes, while we may work for architects and perform many of the duties of an architect, we are not architects until you have that piece of paper from the state that says you are licensed to practice in the profession.
Joanne P. July 24, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Totally weird and nothing to do with anything comment from John Smith. When did this site become a place to just randomly attack people?
More of the Same July 24, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Vavrek has thrown another good person under the bus. That is what he does. When the totally incompetent Steve Vavrek first took office Rick Zini helped him more than any other elected official in Monroe. Back then Vavrek didn’t have a clue and still doesn’t but Rick tried to help. Zini worked harder and made more positive changes than any other elected official this town has ever known. The POCD, CIFAP and the restructuring of the Land Use Dept were all driven by Rick. Vavrek made sure he was always close enough to take credit and always far enough away to let Zini and the Commission take the blame. Rick Zini always tried to do what was right for Monroe, he always tried to be fair and he was never afraid to stand up for what he believed. He followed the law and he put principle before politics. Ultimately that was his undoing because those are qualities that could never be understood nor appreciated by the glad handing, spineless Steve Vavrek and all the sycophants that support him.
John Smith July 24, 2012 at 05:16 PM
It's funny how all of my comments seem to be getting deleted. Who is doing it?
Donna Gail July 24, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Ed, are you kidding? If the Republican leadership forced the resignation of Mr. Zini, that's scary. And that means O'Hara was probably behind it. O'Hara & friends are methodically running lots of hard-working volunteers and employees out of their positions. This may be a nice rural community, BUT IT'S NOT A FARM TOWN ANYMORE. Not if that means giving carte blanche to anyone who grows anything on his property and giving them all sorts of tax breaks and letting them keep their properties blighted and grandfathering them in for any purpose they want. All I ask is for some decent, honest people to sit on these commissions. I didn't know Mr. Zini, and I did hear some negative things about him, but I also think he was obviously frustrated and maybe disgusted by Vavrek's lack of leadership and organization in (not) running the Town. And from what I also heard, Zini was not a politically divisive leader. He did what he felt was the right thing. THAT'S WHAT WE NEED, and we will not get that with O'Hara in charge. And regarding the licensing - the State of CT charges exorbitant, criminal fees for most professional licenses - most of them were DOUBLED a few years ago. If you're working for a company and you don't need to be licensed to do your job, it's fine to let your license lapse if you can't afford the annual fee & as long as you don't violate the rules of your profession.
Donna Gail July 24, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Does anyone else feel like the Town is headed toward a train wreck, or maybe we're there already?
Julie Ann in Monroe July 24, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Not at all Donna- changing of the guard is always difficult . Every town has their issues- we just need to try and be more open minded and try to make decisions that are best for the collective and not just the individual.
Jethro July 25, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Donna Gail is right. We have a liquor salesman running the town who is intoxicated with power. He is in way over his head. Now we have a guy running the P&Z who is against business, against families, and against schools. What a dangerous combo - Vavrek and O'Hara. This is one scary situation!!!!!
Bill Bittar (Editor) July 25, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Hi John, please call me at 203-621-4847.
Monroe Guy July 25, 2012 at 10:47 AM
Mr. O’Hara be a farmer and Mr. Vavrek sold liquor a while back. They gunna git together now and mix up a sort of moonshine for this here town and make everyone feel more better. They gunna git together with all their fancy lawyers and stir up a concoction of higher taxes, fewer binnises, they gunna be keeping familys out and be closin a few more schools here and ther , O ye and fer sure they be supportin farmin. Yee Ha now that’s what I call progriss! This be a farmin community and don’t no one ever fergit it!
Mike Wright July 25, 2012 at 11:16 AM
The whole point of the architect argument is that Mr. Zini attempted to put himself on a par with the police department's architect when he said, "I am an architect in the private sector". It is simply not true. His company's website lists him as a "senior architect" and an associate member of the AIA when he is neither. He is an senior architectural intern or senior designer. If those titles carry a little less cache, there is a reason for it. He has misrepresented himself as a public offiicial. Doesn't this concern you at all?
jim laguardia July 25, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Sorry but Monroe guy, and Jethro.... The schtick is just are not that funny to keep going on with it. Try some new stuff maybe, a "get r done!!!" Or "you might be a redneck" or maybe even a .... "NOT!!!" joke would work??
Robert Martin September 04, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Serving on Planning & Zoning is not an easy job and I made a vow when I left after 26+ years that I would stay out of the dialog even when our past actions were critized. However, while I no longer live in Monroe having moved to North Carolina I can't help follow the actions of the town where we lived 33 years.especially knowing most of the town leadership. I do not know why Zini chose to leave but I do know that Pat O'Hara is not a good choice to replace him for all the reasons that are commented above and hope the board will select a new leader that shows the objectivity and leadership that Monroe needs and does not try to sell their personal agenda. The high legal costs associated with zoning issues reflects the fact companies have felt that the Monroe P&Z commission was not following the rules but rather interpreting them to fit their own agenda. Chosing a leader who was part of those decisions is not the best way forward.
Herman M September 04, 2012 at 01:39 PM
@Robert Martin: no doubt about that. The legal fees are well over $700.000 and Vavrek defends the out of control spending. This town is in big trouble with this kind of mismanagement.
On the RTC September 04, 2012 at 02:16 PM
True Pat O'Hara is the worst person to head P&Z. He is the most partisan, anti anyone else type of guy you could find. That is good news for Republican developers like Sipin but bad news for others that are not so involved with the RTC. O’Hara has never done anything to promote economic development in Monroe. The only thing he has ever promoted is farming. That won’t help Monroe tax payers. As for Zini he was forced out by the RTC for not going along with certain power brokers.
Herman M September 04, 2012 at 02:49 PM
@ On the RTC: Why does the RTC allow this guy to run for anything? Seriously, based on what I have heard this guy is against everything and anything productive. How does selling plants qualify you to run a P&Z Commission. Given what is taking place this guy is running it into the ground with legal fees and lawsuits against the town.

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