“I would have done better if I stayed home and talked to my dog,” muttered one frustrated resident as he left town hall nearly two hours after the meeting had begun. Only four of the 23 highlighted changes to the zoning law had been covered up to that point.
The meeting was marked with bitterness and frustration as Pulsifer talked over residents and spent the majority of the meeting telling anecdotal stories meant to bolster his reasoning for the proposed changes.
“I’m prepared to be here until 2 a.m. if I have to,” said Pulsifer, adding that he was proposing the changes because he had been the town’s lawyer for the zoning board and did not like the alterations made during his tenure.
“I didn’t agree [with the changes by the previous board,] and I ran for office and I was elected and I can make these changes,” Pulsifer told the crowd.
Repeatedly ignoring requests from residents to question him, Pulsifer often spoke over the audience, telling them to stick to the item at hand and not deviate into other areas, adding he was tired of the “personal attacks.”
“When the presentation is done, then you can ask questions,” said Pulsifer. “I am being respectful to you, now be respectful to me.”
Continuing, he told residents they had had their opportunity for public comment at the public hearing.
“The public hearing was at last month’s meeting and you missed your chance,” said Pulsifer. “This meeting is presentational only.”
The crowd groaned and some tried to speak up, asking he respect them and their concerns.
“Respect us! We don’t want to hear your stories, we want you to hear us,” countered one resident from the audience, as Pulsifer launched into yet another anecdote about a client living in Greenwich who had an issue with a neighbor who “probably had dementia,” but none the less, was always “yelling at the oil man.”
At another point in the meeting, when a resident requested the microphone so that everyone could hear his question, Pulsifer pulled it close into his body and turned slightly away, refusing to give it up.
“Let him have it,” said Supervisor Art Johnson, who walked over to Pulsifer and physically took the microphone from him, handing it to the resident.
Even other board members appeared frustrated with Pulsifer. Councilman John Lant stood up and left, telling Pulsifer as he passed in front of him that he “should listen to the residents.”
Later, Supervisor Johnson finally asked the councilman to quit covering the minor issues and get to the proposed changes that people were most concerned with, adding that he fully understood the residents’ frustration.
“We listened to what the residents had to say,” said Supervisor Johnson, noting that a board workshop was planned for Monday, January 28 at 4 p.m.
“We are not all in agreement on all the proposed changes,” said the supervisor. “But we are holding a workshop and the public is invited although there will be no opportunity to comment.”
He pointed out, though, that once the workshop is completed, a revised edition of the proposed changes would be available for public viewing.
“There was some frustration and I should have said something sooner,” said Johnson. “We do want to listen and we want to do what our residents want.”