As the Hartford Baseball Stadium Turns | Connecticut Public Radio

As the Hartford Baseball Stadium Turns

Sep 24, 2014

Credit iStock / Thinkstock
Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Sara Bronin holds a map of the city at Tuesday night's meeting.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR
The city might have to resubmit an ordinance to the city council, which could take time.

It's a trifecta this week for those who like public meetings about the proposed ballpark in Hartford (don't all click at once).

On Tuesday, the Planning and Zoning Commission met and gave a non-binding smackdown to the stadium that anchors the $350 million project. 

The majority of the commission said that a stadium didn't fit in with the plans the city has adopted for the neighborhood. On Thursday, the city council will meet to talk about dollars and cents. Tonight, the Hartford Redevelopment Agency is meeting to consider selling two properties to the city for the project.

But about last night... 

The commission's meeting was full of tension between Development Director Thom Deller, who backs the plan, and commission chair Sara Bronin. She didn't like the project or the process, she said, and here's one nugget of process that she pointed out.

Read closely. It's thick stuff. (Spoiler alert: the city's lawyers say she's wrong.)

The city council has a resolution before it to sell the developers of DoNo Hartford, LLC the land where the stadium will be built. But last night, Bronin asked whether that should have been done by ordinance. In the resolution, the city says it will include a "reverter" clause, meaning that if the developers fail to build the stadium, the city could get the land back.

Bronin said that reverter clause is a limitation. When the city puts limitations on private property, Bronin said the charter mandates that it be done by ordinance.

Hartford City Hall.
Credit Heather Brandon / WNPR

Here's what the charter says: "[E]very act...placing any burden upon or limiting the use of private property, shall be by ordinance."

You can listen to their exchange here (sorry, the audio's not great):

Why would this matter? Two reasons. First, that could mean the city might have to resubmit an ordinance to the city council, which could take time. Second, while the council needs six votes to pass the resolution, it would need seven to pass the ordinance. Then, things get interesting.

Alas, the city's corporation counsel said in an email to WNPR that Bronin is misguided. "Per Corp Counsel, P&Z is incorrect in their assessment of the Charter," the city said. "An ordinance is required when a rule applies to every property in the City of Hartford, not just one. The portion of the Charter referred to states just that."

That is, the corporation counsel said that part of the charter only applies when the council is considering a matter of "general application, as opposed to limitations on specific properties."

Got it?

And now, off to the redevelopment agency meeting...