Federal judge dismisses Closson claim
WINSTED â€” A federal judge recently dismissed George Clossonâ€™s case against the Board of Selectmen for removing him from the Planning and Zoning Commission last year.
Closson was removed from his position as chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission last April by the Republican majority on the Winchester Board of Selectmen. The Republicans said Closson was being removed because he had not been active enough in developing the townâ€™s plan of conservation and development, and that he was generally â€œanti-development.â€
The Republicans were widely criticized for the decision, which community members said was related to the GOPâ€™s support of a housing and golf course development proposed by the Aurora group. The developers contributed to the Republicansâ€™ 2007 campaign and had singled out Closson as an impediment to the project.
On June 1, Federal District Court Judge Vanessa Bryan ruled that the federal court does not have jurisdiction over Clossonâ€™s claim that he was removed improperly and without cause. Closson filed cases to that effect last May in both state and federal court.
While Bryan dismissed the federal claims, she did say the case should be decided by Connecticut state law. She stated, â€œClosson could not be removed from his position except for cause.â€ Judge Bryant also noted that she would not address â€œwhether the procedure employed to remove Closson was adequate.â€ Instead, she remanded these state law claims back to the Superior Court for adjudication.
In a statement released by the Republican members of the Board of Selectman, member Michael Hamm said the case amounted to a waste of town money and that the board had just cause to remove Closson from the commission. â€œJust cause simply means there is a sound or good reason to do something. Clearly, there was a good reason to remove Closson,â€ he said.
â€œThe issue is simple,â€ echoed Selectman David Cappabianca. â€œJust cause means did the Board of Selectmen have a reason that they believed was sound. It does not matter that George Closson does not agree with it.â€
Since the case has not been dismissed in its entirety, the Closson matter will return to state court, where a judge will be asked to determine if the former chairman has a claim.