Injunction hearings rescheduled for St. Vincent soup kitchen appeal

Norwich — A federal judge in Bridgeport scheduled hearings for Feb. 25 and 26 on an injunction request by St. Vincent de Paul Place that would allow the soup kitchen to remain open at the former St. Joseph School during an appeal of the city’s permit denial for the facility.

The question of whether the facility can remain open past Saturday’s expiration of temporary permits remained unanswered late Thursday.

Peter Davis, director of planning and development, said Thursday that unless he receives a court order delaying enforcement of the permit denial, he will ask building inspectors to issue a notice of violation Monday, ordering the soup kitchen to vacate the school.

U.S. District Judge Warren W. Eginton in Bridgeport held a conference call Thursday with attorneys representing St. Vincent de Paul Place and the city of Norwich and set a schedule for the injunction arguments and hearing.

Attorney Timothy Bates representing St. Vincent said Thursday that he anticipates that Eginton will issue an order that the soup kitchen be allowed to remain open at the school until the injunction hearing is held.

Attorney Joseph Schwartz representing the city of Norwich in the appeal, declined to comment on the enforcement issue.

According to the schedule set by Eginton, the city must file its response brief to the injunction request by Feb. 11, and St. Vincent must file its reply to the city’s brief by Feb. 18. The injunction hearing is set to start at 9 a.m. on Feb. 25 and continue on Feb. 26.

The Commission on the City Plan on Dec. 18 denied permits for the soup kitchen to remain permanently at the former school, agreeing with neighbors who testified that the facility already was a detriment to the neighborhood. Residents cited trespassing, littering and foul language by soup kitchen patrons.

Brian Kobylarz, a Hobart Avenue resident who led the neighborhood opposition, objected to the injunction request and the potential month-long delay in city enforcement of the permit denial. Kobylarz plans to attend the hearing, although residents are not legal parties in the case.

c.bessette@theday.com

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