Farm company files legal action over fairground permits, says ruling “violates” property rights |

SOMERS – The Union Agricultural Society has filed a complaint to try to overturn a Zoning Appeal Board ruling requiring it to obtain special use permits for events it hosts throughout the year. year – other than agricultural fairs – at its Four Town fairgrounds on Egypt Road.

The lawsuit, filed in Vernon Superior Court on April 9, is against the ZBA and a group of neighbors from the fairgrounds on Egypt Road who complained to the ZBA about the noise caused by these events.

John Parks, the local lawyer who represented the neighbors before the ZBA, could not be reached for comment.

Glastonbury attorney Chris-topher J. Smithy, who represented the ZBA at its hearings in the case, could not be reached either.

It was the group of neighbors that appealed to the ZBA against a decision by Zoning Enforcement Officer Jennifer Roy that the farm company did not have to obtain a special use permit for the events it was taking. ‘she organizes throughout the year at the fairgrounds, as such events constituted improper legal use. of the property.

The agricultural company has owned the 50-acre fairground at 56 Egypt Road since 1960 – before the zoning regulations went into effect – and has continuously held agricultural fairs and other social and recreational events on the property, including including its annual Four Town Fair. Fair officials said they need to hold other events at the fairgrounds in order to raise funds to hold their annual four-city fair.

The fairgrounds host other recreational and social events throughout the year, including chili parties, wedding receptions, and corporate picnics. A regional farmers’ and craftsmen’s market is scheduled for May 1.

On March 16, after a series of hearings, the ZBA, in a 4-1 decision, ruled in favor of the neighbors, who mainly complained about the noise of the events but did not object to the annual fair of four towns of the agricultural society or other agricultural fairs it organizes at the fairgrounds.

The ruling means that the farm company has to go through a detailed and possibly lengthy licensing process before they can hold an event at their fairgrounds other than agricultural fairs, and such permit applications may be denied.

In the lawsuit, the company’s attorney, Dorian R. Farmiglietti of Vernon, says the non-profit farming company – which represents the towns of Somers, Enfield, Ellington and East Windsor, the four towns that hold the annual fair of the four cities – negatively impacted by the ZBA’s decision.

He states that the decision “is intended to deprive the plaintiff of an acquired property right to continue his valid and legal non-conforming uses of the property, and he will suffer great financial loss as a result of the ZBA’s action.”

The lawsuit also states that the ZBA’s action in changing Roy’s decision and reversing it in relation to all events except the agricultural fairs was “unlawful, arbitrary and capricious, and amounted to abuse. of the discretionary power conferred on him … “

The lawsuit states that the ZBA’s decision “so unreasonably infringes the claimant’s acquired property rights as to result in the taking of the property for which the claimant is entitled to fair compensation …”

In addition to asking the judge to overturn the ZBA’s decision regarding events held at fairgrounds other than agricultural fairs, the agricultural society is asking the following:

• That Roy’s decision that the fair, social and other recreational events held on the fairground be allowed to continue as non-conforming legal and valid uses of the property.

• That the agricultural society be compensated for the illegal taking of the property.

• Other legal and equitable measures that the court may deem necessary and appropriate.

George Van Tasel of Somers, former chairman and longtime director of the agricultural company, said that before the current group of neighbors started to complain about noise from other events at the fairgrounds, he didn’t there had been no complaints of which the agricultural society was aware. in connection with its events organized throughout the year.

During the ZBA hearings, the neighbors’ lawyer did not provide any decibel readings related to the noise levels that the neighbors were complaining about, he said.

Van Tasel pointed out that year-round events are to be held at the exhibition grounds in order to raise funds for the popular Four Towns Fair, and what the agricultural society has to raise this year is between $ 40,000 and $ 60,000. to fund the fair he mentioned.

The show, which was canceled last September due to COVID-19, is scheduled to take place over four days in September.

Amalia H. Mercado