Danbury closed for business

Friday, May 20, 2011
Time: 6:17 PM

Joining the chorus of people who have decried about the anti-business atmosphere in downtown Danbury (here and here) comes this article from The Mercurial regarding an individual who wanted to open a brewery on East Liberty Street but became disgusted with City Hall.

Published in full by permission:
This is what Mark Tambascio, owner of My Place Restaurant and Tap Room in Newtown, Connecticut, has to say about award-winning homebrewer John Watson.

"[Breweries] are hard to run, and only a few stand out," Tambascio said. "He would be one of them."

Danbury was one place that Watson scouted for his brewery, specifically an industrial location on East Liberty Street. Ed Blasco, the owner of the East Liberty property, attempted to amend the building's zoning so that Watson could open his business there, but there was no support for the amendment in City Hall. Blasco's site is set to be rented by a bakery, and Watson is looking in Litchfield and New Haven County for a suitable location for his brewery.

"Danbury is run by closed-minded people," said Watson in an email interview. "I am looking in other regions willing to work with me, not strongly opposed. It is a no-win situation when the city turns thier back on long-term building owners who cannot rent their buildings to new business. I would like to work with people who want to build their economy. Danbury has lost me forever."

These sentiments were echoed by Blasco, who said his property has been "selectively zoned".

"The City of Danbury is God," Blasco said in a phone interview. "They determine what happens in town. There is no way to fight City Hall without years in court and at least $10,000."

"You really have to choose your battles in Danbury," Blasco continued. "The City Planner controls the city – when he decides to oppose you, he goes to Zoning, and there's a high probability that they will turn it."

Danbury's City Planner, Dennis Elpern, who has occupied his position since 1988, said in a phone interview that he was not familiar with Blasco's case. He did say that the city only wanted to allow restaurants downtown; however, any bar that were to open as an accessory to a restaurant would be permissible.

"We have had bad experiences with taverns in the past which have turned into areas of difficulty," Elpern said. "Underage drinking, nickel shot nights, wet t-shirt contests, that kind of thing, and we don't want to encourage that. Any tavern that is already there can, of course, continue."

Since 2003, Danbury's Zoning Commission has effected a moratorium on new liquor licenses in the downtown CityCenter district, which spans roughly from Franklin Street in the north to Keeler Street in the south, covering almost all of Main Street and one to two blocks transversely. Blasco's property falls outside of this district, but in order for Watson to open his brewery there, Blasco would have had to get the location re-zoned.

Mark Cornhoss, co-owner of Artel Engineering Group in Brookfield, worked with Blasco in his attempts to re-zone his East Liberty Street property. In a phone interview, Cornhoss said that in order to re-zone a location, there needs to be support from within the city and it's various planning departments.

"The current city of Danbury zoning regulations do not permit breweries at any location as standalone use," Cornhoss said. He explained that the The Colorado Brew Pub, a brewery that once operated on Delay Street, was able to exist because it was affiliated with a restaurant.

"The problem with 128 East Liberty is it's zoned as an industrial zone, it's an IL40," Cornhoss explained. "So really a restaurant use in there, with a brew pub, would not be a compatible use. And that's why it really didn't go any further, because really nobody downtown would support that application."

According to Cornhoss, upon looking at the location and talking with people in City Hall, he determined that Blasco likely would have met with resistance in his efforts to re-zone. Cornhoss then advised Blasco not to go any further in order to save time and money.

Blasco said he was fed up with City Hall and its affiliates, who he called a part of the "Good Ol' Boy Network":

"If you're not in, you can't do anything," he said, "and there's no law until the higher courts. No one in City Hall likes each other, and nobody in City Hall can be fired – they are all civic employees."

"Danbury doesn't know who they are," he concluded. "[...]You have to learn how to work within the city, and there's no way to go forward. It's nice to try and do things. I just don't know how to make a difference in a system that just doesn't care."

Danbury has recently committed itself to a downtown revitalization. The Main Street Renaissance Task Force was created in 2008, and the Task Force released Downtown Danbury: Issues and Recommendations 2010, a comprehensive plan for revitalization, in late 2010. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is currently appointing members to the Danbury Main Street Partnership, an 11-member committee who will put the revitalization plans into action.

However, amidst these plans and committees, downtown businesses are closing shop left and right, and prospective new businesses are settling anywhere but here.

Both Cornhoss and Tambascio expressed regret that Watson's brewery was not able to come to Danbury, but perhaps the city itself should be feeling the most regret. Watson is well-known among professional brewers and already has a following, both locally and nationally. Among many awards, he has won "Best in Show" at the Southern New England Regional Homebrew Competition (SNERHC) and the Nimkasi Award at the National Homebrewer's Competition. According to the Home Brewer's Association website, the Nimkasi Award, named for the Sumerian Goddess of Beer, "is given to the brewer having the most wins in the Final Round of the National Homebrew Competition."

It's possible that something like a brew pub could give Danbury the lubrication it needs to come together. After another successful night in his tap room, Tambascio, who is also a homebrewer and a judge in the SNERHC, meditated on the community aspect of craft beer.

"Its about the history of a town and getting people together to drink local," he said. "And it's fresher than fresh. Craft beer is very community-oriented. That's really been embraced in the business."

Awaiting the misleading excuses spin from Danbury's last honest man shortly...


VIDEO: Downtown parking problems claims another business on Main Street

Danbury's Independent Music Festival Needs a Life Preserver

CT-05: Donovan is in

Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Time: 10:52 AM

He previously expressed interest in running for U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy’s seat, but it was never more apparent than Monday evening at the Jefferson Jackson Bailey dinner where supporters were handing out guitar shaped stickers that said “Chris Donovan for Congress.”

Donovan, one of the most powerful men in the state legislature, waited until a budget deal was completed before softly announcing his campaign for the Fifth Congressional seat being vacated by Murphy, who is running for U.S. Senate. But even with the sticker Donovan played coy and refused to say it was official.

In a brief interview after exiting the V.I.P. room at the Connecticut Convention Center, Donovan said he’s the only candidate in the race who is already working to better the state for the people of Connecticut. He said he wants to work for them now in Washington D.C.

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The Mercurial (RIP)
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10.03.18 (PDF):
"Approval of Danbury Prospect Charter School"

10.30.20 (HatCityBLOG VID): Charter School discussion during 2020 interview with Julie Kushner

2018 (RADIO): WLAD
"State Board of Ed signs off on Danbury charter school proposal"

08.20 (VID): CT-LEAD
"Stand up for Education Justice" Rally

08.20.20 (OP-ED): KUSHNER: "Charter schools are not ‘magic bullet’ to improving Danbury schools"

09.13.20 (OP-ED): CHAPMAN
Candidate for state Senate supports charter school for Danbury

01.15.21 (VID): CT-LEAD
Danbury Prospect Charter School press conference

03.19.21 (OP-ED): CT MIRROR
"Danbury leaders do not want a charter school"

04.01.21 (OP-ED): CT-LEAD:
"Why did Sen. Kushner vote against us?"

05.06.21 (VID): Danbury rally to fully fund public schools

10.07.21 (VID): Danbury City-Wide PTO "Meet the Candidates" education forum

10.07.21 NEWSTIMES
Danbury candidates quarrel over charter school, education funding

01.10.22 NEWSTIMES
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01.10.22 NEWSTIMES
"Some Danbury Democrats ‘open minded’ about charter school after new, CT operator named"

01.21.22 (OP-ED): CT MIRROR
"Lessons from Danbury: Ending the dual process for charter school approval"

02.09.22 NEWSTIMES
"Proposed Danbury charter school won’t open in 2022, governor leaves funding out of budget"

02.18.22 NEWSTIMES:
Danbury residents plead for charter school funds in 9-hour state budget hearing: ‘Just exhausted’

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Time has come for Danbury charter school

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"Why I am excited about the Danbury Charter School"

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04.02.22 CT EXAMINER:
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"Danbury Charter School plans debut"

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Protest press conference

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Latino group call on Connecticut lawmakers to open a Danbury charter school

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"Career Academy ‘a great deal for Danbury"

On September 26, 2007, ten plaintiffs filed suit in response to an arrest of aday laborers at a public park in Danbury, Connecticut. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on November 26, 2007.

The amended complaint states that plaintiffs sought to remedy the continued discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against the Latino residents of the City of Danbury by Danbury's mayor and its police department.

Plaintiffs allege that the arrests violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the Connecticut Constitution because defendants conducted the arrests without valid warrants, in the absence of exigent circumstances, and without probable cause to believe that plaintiffs were engaged in unlawful activity. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants improperly stopped, detained, investigated, searched and arrested plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights when they intentionally targeted plaintiffs, and arrested and detained them on the basis of their race, ethnicity and perceived national origin. Plaintiffs raise First Amendment, Due Process and tort claims.

Plaintiffs request declaratory relief, damages and attorneys fees.



Danbury Area Coalition for the Rights of Immigrants v.
U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
3:06-cv-01992-RNC ( D. Conn. )

(02.25.08) Court docket

(10.24.07) Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Emergency Motion for Protective Order

(09.26.07) Press Release

(12.14.06) Complaint

Barrera v. Boughton, No. 07-01436
(D. Conn. filed Sept. 26, 2007)

(02.25.08) Court Docket

Amended complaint

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss State Law Claims

Plaintiffs' Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

Order on Motion to Dismiss

Defendants' Answer to Amended Complaint

NEW HAVEN REGISTER: Immigrant's 2006 arrest was flawed Danbury mayor testifies

(10.05.07 (VIDEO) Boughton mislead the public about Danbury's involvement in raid

(09.18.07) Yale Law Students expose Danbury involvement in raid

(12.14.06) VIDEO: Interview with Yale Law Students at FOI presser

(12.14.06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 FOI complaint media roundup

City Clerk Jean Natale standing next to skinhead sparks outrage

(10.03.06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 rally

(09.29.06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 case deepens

Word of raid spread across the country

(09/29/06) VIDEO: Danbury 11 protest news conference

(09/29/06) Immigrant newspaper "El Canillita" gives best account of ICE day labor raid at Kennedy Park

trans_button Santos Family Story
VIDEO: Tereza Pereira's ordeal with ICE agents

VIDEO: Danbury Peace Coalition Immigration Forum (April 2006)
featuring Mayor Boughton and Immigration attorney Philip Berns

VIDEO: 2007 Stop the Raids immigration forum at WCSU

2007: Community protest anti-immigration forum

A tribute to Hispanic Center Director and immigrant activist Maria Cinta Lowe



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