old saybrook

Lawsuit in Old Saybrook Over Commemorative Brick Walkway

Old Saybrook zoning officials and the Connecticut Cancer Foundation have been at odds for years over regulations, but now the main point of contention is a patio made of commemorative bricks.

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A lawsuit in Old Saybrook is underway over a brick walkway honoring donors to the Connecticut Cancer Foundation.

The town's zoning commission says the patio wasn't approved to be built and needs to be removed.

Now, they're suing the town's zoning board of appeals and the foundation.

“We help over 500 families a year with everyday living expenses,” said Connecticut Cancer Foundation Executive Director Jane Ellis.

With the support of some baseball greats, Ellis has been helping raise money for local cancer patients in need for more than 30 years now. The foundation started when her husband, former New York Yankees catcher & cancer survivor John Ellis, created what was then called the Connecticut Sports Foundation Against Cancer.

Ellis says the decision to build a home for the foundation in Old Saybrook has been frustrating.

“I’m learning that zoning commissions are really not that flexible on what you think is maybe common sense or what is not.”

According to court documents, the commission says the foundation violated zoning regulations, and while they made modifications over the past couple of years to satisfy the plans they initially made with the commission, the brick patio shouldn’t have been built and needs to be removed.

In their lawsuit, the commission claims, "In an apparent attempt to circumvent the commission's decision..." the foundation got approval to keep the patio through the zoning board of appeals, which the commission says is against the rules.

Ellis admits to missteps along the way, but says she never had any malicious intent.

“I really am frustrated that I have to spend my time fighting a town that I thought would really embrace us when we came here and want to help us instead of fighting us at every little tree or every little paver.”

 The town's zoning enforcement officer could not comment on ongoing litigation.

In an email, the town's First Selectman Carl Fortuna Jr. says he prefers not to comment for that reason as well, but writes: "I remain available to work with all parties and their representatives to resolve this matter in a way that is best for Old Saybrook. While disappointed that the controversy related to this matter has escalated in the manner that it has, I remain hopeful that a reasonable solution is still within reach.”

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