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Norwich soup kitchen hearing postponed

By Claire Bessette

Publication: theday.com

Published February 14. 2013 10:00AM   Updated February 15. 2013 12:04AM

Norwich — A Bridgeport federal judge has postponed a planned hearing on St. Vincent de Paul Place’s challenge to the city’s denial of permits for the soup kitchen to remain permanently at the former St. Joseph School on Cliff Street.

Judge Warren W. Eginton Wednesday ordered the hearing postponed pending resolution of the city’s motion, filed on Monday to dismiss the appeal entirely. St. Vincent had requested an injunction to prevent the city from forcing the soup kitchen to close before the full appeal is heard by the U.S. District Court.

City attorneys filed the motion on Monday to dismiss the case, saying St. Vincent and St. Joseph Church failed to exhaust administrative appeals through the Zoning Board of Appeals. The city’s attorneys also objected to the soup kitchen’s request to postpone the Feb. 25 hearing on an injunction, arguing that any enforcement action would take time, and the facility faced no imminent threat of closure.

St. Vincent, which has since filed appeals to the city Zoning Board of Appeals to be heard March 12, countered that the injunction was necessary because the city was intent on closing the soup kitchen immediately.

In July, St. Vincent received a six-month permit to move to the former school. That permit expired Jan. 12 after the Commission on the City Plan voted unanimously on Dec. 18 to deny a special permit to allow the soup kitchen to operate at the former school permanently.

During two lengthy public hearing sessions, neighbors expressed objections citing problems they have experienced during the six-month operation, including trespassing, littering and foul language directed at homeowners.

In appealing the denial to federal court, St. Vincent said the city violated federal law that allows religious institutions to carry on their religious and charitable missions on church-owned property.

c.bessette@theday.com

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