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Stonington suspends zoning official

By Joe Wojtas

Publication: theday.com

Published April 03. 2013 4:00PM   Updated April 03. 2013 5:02PM

Stonington — The town has suspended Zoning Official Joe Larkin for two weeks without pay because of an unspecified job-related issue.

Larkin last worked on March 27 and is expected to return April 10.

Director of Administrative Services Vincent Pacileo declined to discuss this afternoon why Larkin has been disciplined.

“We fully expect Joe to be back at the end of this,” he said.

Candace Palmer, the zoning/inland wetlands enforcement officer, has been handling Larkin's duties in his absence.

Larkin has been the subject of many controversies and complaints during his long tenure with the town.

In 2011, the town reduced Larkin’s salary from $60,630 to $31,194 and cut his hours from 35 to 17.5 a week. Larkin then filed a union grievance against the town, which was later dismissed by a state arbitration panel.

The town presented testimony at that time from Palmer who said that even when she was working reduced hours in 2009, she performed almost four times the enforcement work that Larkin did as a full-time employee. During 2010-11, Palmer said she did far more inspections working part-time than Larkin did working full-time at a time when zoning activity had decreased.

In 2010, First Selectman Ed Haberek launched an investigation into Larkin’s performance but that stalled and expanded into an examination of the policies, procedures and responsibilities of the town’s land use commissions.

Also in 2010, the town investigated whether two homes owned by Larkin were violating the town’s blight ordinance following a complaint from the couple who live next door.

Larkin called the action “Nazism” at the time and referred to his neighbors as “clowns.”

Last summer, a federal judge sided with a Lord’s Point homeowner who said that Larkin told her both verbally and in writing that she could build a home on a lot she was considering buying. When she went ahead and purchased the property, Larkin told her he had reversed his opinion and she could no longer build on the site. The town is now appealing the judge’s decision.

Larkin could not be reached for comment this afternoon.

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