NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk lawmakers have rallied applauded a new law intended to improve neighborhoods by strenghtening zoning enforcement.
The law, recently signed by Gov. Dannel Malloy and slated to go into effect Oct. 1, will empower Zoning Enforcement Officers to “do their job without the threat of triple damages” and thus be more aggressive in issuing citations.
“It is unfair and counterproductive for ZEOs to do their work under the threat of having to pay triple damages out of their pockets if a civil lawsuit arises,” said State Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk.
He said he had heard that officers hesitated to enforce regulations for fear of being sued. “I don’t think any other state employee has to pay that."
Under the old law, Connecticut zoning enforcement officers were liable for triple damages if they issued a citation “frivolously or without probably cause” against a landowner. The new law makes ZEOs liable only for actual damages, and only if they are found to have issued a citation “maliciously or wantonly.”
Duff told the Norwalk Daily Voice the new law will “hopefully encourage them to enforce the laws." The old law, Duff said, discouraged enforcement of zoning laws.
The legislation was supported across party lines by Norwalk lawmakers and officials, including House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, State Rep. Chris Perone and Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia.
“This law provides a level of fairness for zoning officers that I have encouraged for years,” said Moccia.