It all started with a simple question concerning signs on what some refer to as the Town Green at the intersection of Route 31 and Route 44 adjacent to the New Alliance Bank. It has long been represented by the Town leaders that signs are only permitted there with permission of the Town of Coventry.
This is where our poker game starts; we have the ante where those that play by the rules contact the Town Hall for permission to put up a sign. The general understanding is that you must be a non-profit organization and the time period is limited.
Now we shuffle the cards and deal, of course some will get better cards than others. Some of the players in our town don’t play by the rules they set up signs for profit making operations and still get to sit at the table. How can that be, don’t we have regulations and don’t we pay people to enforce those regulations?
Well let’s look at a situation and you be the judge, are the players bluffing or do we just have different rules for different people? For point of illustration we will use a false name in place of any real company but all other facts will reflect reality. No need here to embarrass or single out one company as breaking the rules. If there is embarrassment to a public official on the other hand it is only due to their own actions.
For an extended period of time there is a weekly event held by a local company (For illustration purposes only we will call them Awkshin Company). Every week the fine folks at Awkshin put out a sign on the north side of the subject property advertising their business. It is usually there a short period of time and is removed and replaced weekly.
An elected member of a land use board reports the sign to Bonnie Potocki the Zoning Enforcement Officer (although it is outside the normal duties of the elected official) and inquires as to the compliance with local regulations and policy. The fact that it is an elected official should not change the facts or the approach of the Town staff in addressing the situation. Now back to our game of poker.
Director of the Land Use Office, Eric Trott is made aware of this situation but decides to not really play the hand, rather than fold he makes a decision to bluff. On September 13, 2010 Mr. Trott tells his Zoning Enforcement Officer that he would talk to the owner to address the matter. Thinking the matter is in capable hands Ms. Potocki folds her hand and drops out of the game.
Unfortunately for Ms. Potocki she passes along the information to the elected official and let’s them draw the conclusion that Mr. Trott is in fact reliable and will take action. The hand is over but not the game.
New hands are dealt and the signs continue to be erected each week on the same spot. Apparently Mr. Trott is talking but nobody is listening or perhaps they are just ignoring the Director Mr. Trott. Nobody knows for sure only Mr. Trott.
Then the action at the table picks up when the elected official calls the bet of Ms. Potocki and finds out Mr. Trott was bluffing all along. On November 2, 2010 over a month and a half after relying on Mr. Trott, Ms.Potacki finds out Mr. Trott never talked to the owners as he said he would back in Sept. You have to wonder what the explanation could be. Why the bluff you ask? Well it seems Mr. Trott knew the owner of the property and the tenant involved and thought that maybe the business being a tenant would give up their lease. Now it appears that is not the real situation the tenant has no intention of leaving and that was never the real issue the issue was regulations and a sign.
So what have we learned in this game of poker at the Town Hall? It seems Bonnie Potocki is an honest poker player, as for Mr. Trott you can make your own assumptions. The elected official still dealing with Mr. Trott’s will have to watch for a bluff, only time will tell how Mr. Trott will play the next hand.
Oh are you wondering about the sign? As expected nothing will happen with the sign since the Town does not have the right to regulate signs on what is really a right-of-way controlled by the State of Connecticut. So there you have it.
What Mr. Trott didn’t know is that it was all a bluff from the start and was merely brought forward for discussion since it was understood that the Town can not control signs in the right-of-way. There really was no need to bluff at poker or play charades. The same situation has been a matter of public discussion and hearings in Bolton for over a year. Had the situation been confirmed in the beginning the entire game could have been called off.
The person to contact for matters such as this and for questions about signs within the right-of-way of state roads is:
Mr. Andrew S. Morrill
Transportation District Services Agent
Special Services – Permits
Department of Transportation District 1
Rocky Hill, CT