May 21, 2013
Written by The Ridgefield Press
Monday, 07 November 2011 06:39
For Zoning Board Appeals, two regular five-year board seats are up for election, as are three seats for alternates, two of whom are filling out the terms of vacancies.
Democrat Sky Cole is challenging incumbent Republican David Choplinski for one full-time board seat, and challenging incumbent Michael Stenko for a five-year alternate seat.Mr. Cole is also running unopposed to fill a four-year alternate vacancy, and Mr. Choplinski is unopposed for a one-year alternate vacancy. Republican Duane Barney is unopposed for a five-year full-time board seat.
Here are two questions from The Press and the answers, within word limits, from the three candidates in the two contested races.
Do you think the Zoning Board of Appeals should serve as a check against the zoning laws being too restrictive or too zealously enforced?
Stenko: The Zoning Board of Appeals is charged with reviewing projects that do not meet the current zoning regulations for a variety of reasons. The board must establish that a hardship to the owner of the property exists or has been created by revisions to the zoning regulations after the property was originally developed. Many of our decisions involve properties that are currently non-conforming and we try to work with owners to enable them to make improvements that will not adversely affect surrounding property owners.
Choplinski: It’s really not a question of “too restrictive” vs. “too zealous” enforcement. The mandate of the ZBA is clear: to hear and decide on appeals and special exceptions, and to determine variances. We neither write nor enforce regulations. The ZBA statute provides the guidance I will prudently and fairly follow: we should safeguard Ridgefield’s harmony, public health, safety, convenience, welfare and property values. This is what I will do if I am privileged to serve.
Cole: It’s a mistake see the ZBA as protection against something onerous. Broad laws cannot anticipate nor address every circumstance because our lawmakers necessarily see the larger constituency. The creation of the ZBA anticipates and addresses the need for the individual to be heard on specific issues that that are unanticipated. The ZBA makes certain the letter of the law does not overwhelm the intent protecting the community and for the future and always the individual.
Why should voters choose you to serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals?
Stenko: I have been a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals since 2005 and a resident of Ridgefield for the past 11 years. As a civil engineer I have a good understanding of construction processes and capabilities. I feel that my past decisions as a member of the board have been fair to property owners and have always kept in mind the unique character of Ridgefield and the safety of our residents.
Choplinski: I offer passion for Ridgefield and professional talents. I love the fabric of our community and want to preserve its unique character. I have 25 years of civil engineering and construction experience and own a small business. My wife and I have been here for 14 years. I am active in several local charitable organizations serving those with developmental disabilities. Plus, as an alternate ZBA member, I already understand its work and its values.
Cole: Three decades of working as a carpenter in Ridgefield (and being a homeowner) gives me insight into the purpose and value of the rules and regulations. That experience has also taught me how to recognize sensible exceptions. And experience with homeowners — and plain common sense — allows me to see the difference between self-interest in disregard of the neighbors and a willingness to consider those neighbors, even the ones who have yet to move here.
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