Push to Force Town Vote on Dollar Tree Falls Short

The drive to get 5 percent of Windsor electors to sign a petition against a proposed tax abatement for Dollar Tree has fallen short by just 9 signatures.

Windsor Town Manager Peter Souza announced Monday evening that residents' push to force a special town meeting and town vote on a tax abatement for Dollar Tree, Inc. has fallen short.

Residents submitted a petition with 1,075 signatures to the Town Clerk last week, 110 more than the 965 required to force a special meeting and vote with the opportunity to overturn the Town Council's decision to approve a 40-percent tax abatement for Dollar Tree; however, the Town Clerk's office was only able to verify 956 of the signatures obtained.

The petition came up just nine signatures shy.

Accordingly, the April 7 special meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. at Sage Park Middle School has been cancelled, and a special town meeting will not be held.

Town Clerk Agnes Pier said signatures can fail to be verified for a number of reasons, including illegibility and failure to be registered as an elector.

WC April 11, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Ms. Lennon has a refreshing way of assisting the process, it must be a conspiracy! Of course she has done the due diligence and has evidence of her accusations and is not just trying to incite dissent the public for her own benefit.
Catherine & Dennis April 11, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Now that's the best idea Bob B had.......but not original to this group. VOTE 'EM OUT
R Eleveld April 11, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Bill, I hear that about a close vote :-)
Maria Giannuzzi April 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Ms. Sorensen has a valid point. The Town Clerk should have used the spreadsheet to validate the signatures. Common and minor errors should not have invalidated signatures, when those signatures could have been easily validated using other official documents. I am amazed that some names were eliminated for rather strange reasons (not using a space??). For town officials to use such an inefficient and unnecessarily restrictive process in validating signatures is not good governance in my opinion.
Maria Giannuzzi April 11, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Ms. Lennon has a right to her opinion. At least she puts a name to her opinion, which some of those criticizing her do not.
Maria Giannuzzi April 11, 2012 at 11:51 AM
"You know what was funny about the Town Council approval of the recent tax abatement changes: No one even asked questions at the adoption meeting. The Finance Committee minutes on those meetings regarding the changes were also rather sparse." This is a very interesting comment by Bill Generous. I would think the Town Council would have had questions. I would review all the video and minutes of the Town Council and other commission meetings to determine what was the level of interest and involvement by town officials in this important decision. Did town officials ask questions and were they relevant questions? Did town officials raise issues important to residents? How many questions did they ask? The number and types of questions by town officials are significant in terms of due diligence concerning a project that is problematic at the outset from an economic development and health perspective.
Maria Giannuzzi April 11, 2012 at 12:02 PM
It may be possible to get a general idea of the level of contamination on the site. Other comments indicated that workers on the farm were wearing white suits with respirators. You can go to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website or other occupational safety websites and look for federal and state requirements for protective gear that must be worn by workers handling or working near certain toxic substances. The amount and kind of protection varies with the level of toxicity. For example, workers who have a separate air supply are dealing with very dangerous substances. You may be able to correlate the level of hazard/toxicity in the field with the protection being worn by the workers.
Malvi Lennon April 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM
WC: I do not expect you, a nameless individual to understand anything about a fair and open process. Those two words are foreign to you, and your friends on the council. Precisely the reason why you want the spotlight on me rather than where it belongs on a tainted process to prevent a vote some did not want moving forward.
Maria Giannuzzi April 11, 2012 at 03:54 PM
If I read your comment correctly, you asked for a voter list, but did not insist on getting it. If the voter list is available to the public one should not have to insist. Once someone asks, then the correct response from the town official is "yes" or "no." ("No" if the list is not available to members of the public.) If the answer is "yes," it should be followed by an explanation of any fees required by the same town official. The onus is on the town official who is supposed to be the knowledgeable (and well-paid) expert to respond to requests in a timely and professional manner.
Al Simon April 11, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Where are your demands that Winterwood Resident, Stacey, Cari and Bob B fully identify themselves? Why only WC? Personally, I dont care for the anonymity, but know very well, as do you, it is an incredibly common practice in on-line discussions for some to use a screen-name instead of full identification.
Al Simon April 11, 2012 at 04:49 PM
The abatement revision could use more discussion than practical here, but I will give a short version. Dollar Tree was never mentioned to us when Town Staff recommended revision to the policy. They wanted a reduction in investment from about $80 million to $28 million (actually it was percentage of grand list) to be eligible for the highest abatement.. The Finance committee said no--that was too low. Wn pointedly refused to make revisions for 1 potential business, and instead discussed other potential revisions to make the abatement policy more flexible, as well as reduce the threshold for the highest level abatement. We rejected Town staff recommendation a second time when they did not want to change the tiers of abatement. It took 3 meetings to get to the revision, which past unanimously by the Council. The Finance committee meeting minutes and agendas are available on the Town website. Please look at the backup material attached to the agenda. They provide additional information the minutes do not.
Al Simon April 11, 2012 at 05:02 PM
I attempted to answer this off one of your previous comments by mistake
Bill Generous April 11, 2012 at 06:34 PM
When I look back at the Ecomonic Development Commission meetings, Town Council meetings, and Finance Committee meetings (all via background documents on town website and minutes), I cannot help but conclude that the Dollar Tree was the impetus for recently changing the tax abatement policy. The changes may have been expanded over time to be more extensive. Jim Burke, in one of his background memos, does point to a specific company that is looking to develop in either NY, MA, or CT. Sound familiar? Sorry, but same thing happened before Walgreens got their tax abatement. Many things pass unanimously. It doesn't mean it was the wisest choice.
Maria Giannuzzi April 11, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Were town staff aware of Dollar Tree's search for a site when they recommended revisions to the abatement policy? I'm sure that the Town Council gives serious consideration to any staff recommendations. And when did the revisions become effective? Why reduce the threshold for the abatement? The threshold must have been set for a good reason. So why reduce it? I guess what I'm asking is development policy, including tax abatements, being driven by local factors and conditions or by a company's requirements?
Catherine & Dennis April 13, 2012 at 12:08 AM
The Applicant may have originally done the testing to ensure they were not being conveyed property with hazardous contaminants but in fact the Applicant is the one that told us all it tested positive for Chlordane and Dieldren...then after several weeks came up with a non-disclosure agreement. If the results were good, the landowner would not have an objection to revealing them. Instead after the first test they have been out 2 more times for testing that we have seen personally, we are not sure if there have been others. The landowner has a history as you well know of contaminated land and in fact went to court for 12 years with Simsbury over it and there have been other incidents as well. The Applicant has said numerous times the remedy is to cover it. Cover what? The contaminates!! How many sides of their mouths can they speak? We have a right to protect our health and I guess we are just plain stupid to expect that our Town Government would step in and see to that. Proper remediation is required. Research it as we have. Building over it does not protect us for the 14 months of dust. For weeks we heard from the Applicant that they would keep the area wet to control the dust and last meeting we hear oh no, it cannot get wet, we do not want it wet, we want to put down rocks. Come on -watch the meetings on line yourself. We will have the final say with our votes, then fix the rules-input ones that put the health and well being of residents first.
Catherine & Dennis April 13, 2012 at 12:12 AM
He will see the power of the few...the people of this town signed 3 petitions. They claim we lost by nine, we say we had eighteen good ones and they say no right to refute. We shall see who the stupid ones are come election time.
Catherine & Dennis April 13, 2012 at 12:16 AM
I couldnt say it better myself -'no discussion of facts or alternate views are given any validity whatsoever" The plan is to vote it through from day one. Plenty of unethical behavior!!
Maria Giannuzzi April 13, 2012 at 02:57 PM
The rocks may (and I emphasize may) be to prevent seepage of water and contaminants from entering the building or it may be intended to keep the top layer (I cannot call it soil) of the ground from blowing into residences, streets or water sources.
Catherine & Dennis April 15, 2012 at 12:31 PM
The whole system is set up to prevent a discussion. Unless you hire an attorney there is no discussion or questions or answers. The salesman speaks as long as he desires, the residents get 3 minutes to make statements -no questions, no answers, then the salesman gets up again to speak again. The entire system is wrong.
Maria Giannuzzi April 15, 2012 at 05:11 PM
"The whole system is set up to prevent a discussion. Unless you hire an attorney there is no discussion or questions or answers. The salesman speaks as long as he desires, the residents get 3 minutes to make statements -no questions, no answers, then the salesman gets up again to speak again. The entire system is wrong." The system is designed to limit the participation of residents. But questions from residents should be answered by the "salesman" or the town official. If questions are not permitted or are not answered in that forum or another forum, then residents have a right to distrust the process and the outcome of that process. A good lawyer is worth his or her weight in gold. It's too bad that residents have to go to this extreme (and expense), but an attorney is sometimes the only way to get through to the obtuse and the operators.
Malvi Lennon April 15, 2012 at 07:49 PM
The system is design the give the majority party complete control over so-called "discussions" and specially decision making. These folks are not interested in due process. Likewise, they do not care about what the residents want or have to say on any issue, which opposes their views. They have an agenda, they control the majority of the vote and they cram their will down the throats of the people BECAUSE THEY CAN.
Malvi Lennon April 15, 2012 at 07:51 PM
The following narrative is off topic but very much on point. The similarity of how it was mishandled and the mishandling of the Dollar Tree tax abatement vote are mind boggling, and representative of this body. I volunteered to serve on the insurance commission. On a professional level, I have more than enough credentials. Furthermore, the Town's risk manager (wonderful person) and I worked as a team for years and we work together very well. Around the same time, SEBAC denied some of its members their right to have his or her vote count. I wrote an article for the Patch and I was very critical of SEABAC changing the rules (written by SEABAC) after a failed vote, and making the change retroactive. By the way, Al Simon approved of the process used to manipulate the outcome of the second vote. Shortly thereafter, my nomination went before the Town Council and the majority party blocked me. To my knowledge, I am the only nominee who has ever been blocked. At the meeting, Al Simon and others brought up several "concerns” they shared about my views on “majority rule”. They felt it was necessary to vet me further yet; no one from the majority party ever called me, or asked me any questions. The following month on my own initiative, I addressed the council during an open comment session at the regular meeting.
Malvi Lennon April 15, 2012 at 08:04 PM
I believe I made clear that I do not object to majority rule, but I strongly oppose tyranny by the majority - a concept the majority party in this Town seems to embrace. I also invited the council to ask me any questions they may still have. I was told it was not a question/answer forum. In what turned out to be another failed attempt to set the record straight, I offered to meet privately with any Town official at their convenience. To this day, no one has called. What is more when my nomination came before the council a second time, once again, the majority party blocked it unanimously. Showing their indifference towards a democratic, and fair open process.
Maria Giannuzzi April 16, 2012 at 11:11 AM
I'm afraid the problem of official indifference goes much deeper than majority rule and which party is in power. Most insiders are not interested in the views or participation of outsiders.The only real solution is to have one or two "outsiders" on the Town Council or Board of Selectmen. But outsiders will always have a very difficult time getting on a town council. The process is designed to favor insiders. So it's Catch-22. We can learn a lot from reading Joseph Heller's book. I thought the reasons given for blocking Malvi Lennon's nomination were silly. I regret not saying so at the time.
Catherine & Dennis April 21, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Cari -they were. It is a simple matter of a reverse check -it took little time to do. Some had hyphenated names, some had gotten married, some had moved w/in Windsor -of those they said they have voted in recent elections. It is designed to be almost impossible to do and then it is unconstitutional that it cannot be challenged. Further -I question if 965 was indeed the number we had to get in the first place. If you look at the list there are folks whose birthdates are 1910, and 1895!!! The whole thing was a joke. The really difficult part would have been to get the folks to actually come in for the vote -the Town Council was apparently afraid of that.
Catherine & Dennis April 28, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Malvi, that sounds almost constitutional...of the people, by the people and for the people that does not appear to be what happens here in Windsor. Nevertheless, those that were told they could not be counted can vote on the budget -I hope they show them now. There were others that were indeed registered voters that were discounted and they too were very angry they were not counted. Bottom line 1,077 residents of Windsor were upset over the abatement. I will revisit them prior to the budget vote and prior to elections to remind them they now have their say loud and clear. The fact that the Town Council just disregarded the wishes of so many speaks loud and clear. More people need to become involved to stop this egotistical bunch and remind them they work for us not the other way around. Just wait for increases in tax for upgrading the roads destroyed by Dollar Tree trucks, landfills being filled with the recalled junk, lower home values therefore lower taxes paid by those affected. It is totally ridiculous to pay a Fortune 500 company to come to a site that has the perfect location for them, one they wanted in the first place. They have little to offer to us once you take out what they will cost us. The jobs offer nothing to people to better themselves, the wage stinks and benefits are routinely taken away when forcing people to parttime status for vacation etc. Get over your egos and do the right thing before it is too late. Vote no to this company coming in here!
Catherine & Dennis May 03, 2012 at 10:35 PM
The Town Attorney with the conflict signed off on it. Then once the conflict was mentioned has since removed himself. Interesting huh?
Catherine & Dennis May 03, 2012 at 10:38 PM
You are not allowed to comment by the oath of office? Al???????
Catherine & Dennis May 03, 2012 at 10:46 PM
WC -watch the last meeting. The company KNOWS it is being conveyed polluted land. They cherry picked what they sent in (see cross examination...2 samples taken,one turned in..) See how they only tested for chlordane and dieldren. What about the amount of the by-products arsenic? The tests were ordered for what they wanted, not what is there. The company paid for the results. I dont feel good about that at all. They will put up air monitors and monitor once a week. The ones that didnt do full testing? Come on!! They said they would take the highest levels of the chlordane and dieldren and move it to the area under the building...that is 250ft from my home. They say it will take 9 weeks to do this. 9 weeks we will be exposed. We asked the DEEP director if he even came to the site, he said he saw an arial photo. The 'facts' are paid for by the hired 'experts' for Dollar Tree. The DEEP guy is paid by the Governor that wants the 200 count. There is nothing that is factual at all. Welcome to Corrupticut and it's first town Windsor.
WindsorRocks May 09, 2012 at 10:38 PM


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