New London sues couple over backyard volleyball

New London — There may not be any more digs, sets or spikes in the backyard of 18 Viets St. as a result of a lawsuit served up by the city earlier this year.

The suit alleges that the homeowners operate an illegal commercial volleyball league from their backyard, in addition to being noncompliant with other sections of the city's zoning regulations.

The suit was filed Jan. 15 in New London Superior Court against Edinson G. Mizhquiri and Judith Fajardo, who have owned the Viets Street property since late 2011, according to property records.

"At this point in time we really only have a 'he said, she said' situation," city Law Director Jeffrey T. Londregan said in his report to the City Council on Monday.

He said he has spoken to a neighbor and one other person, both of whom claim Mizhquiri or Fajardo told them they were running a league from their backyard.

"Both defendants in the case have spoken with me and have denied that they're running a league," Londregan said. "They say that it is only friends who come on the same date and time to play after work and that it is not an organized league, there are no referees, there is no scorekeeper, there isn't standings or anything like that."

Mizhquiri and Fajardo declined to speak with The Day.

The volleyball court was approved by the city's planning, zoning and wetlands division after Mizhquiri applied for a permit to comply with two previous cease-and-desist orders.

The application for an administrative zoning permit, approved by Zoning Enforcement Officer Michelle Johnson, allowed Mizhquiri to install an 8-foot-tall fence and two full cut-off residential lights "for recreational court use." Full cut-off lights are designed to limit the amount of light that seeps into other properties.

But on Nov. 12, Johnson issued another cease-and-desist order after receiving complaints from neighbors and learning that Mizhquiri and Fajardo had installed netting higher than the approved 8 feet and put up more lights than the permit allowed.

Mizhquiri and Fajardo did not make changes to the court or request a hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals, which ultimately prompted the city's lawsuit.

Londregan said that Mizhquiri and Fajardo have since made changes to the court netting, fencing and lighting to comply with the zoning regulations.

In addition to injunctions forcing Mizhquiri and Fajardo to comply with the zoning regulations and pay the city attorney's fee, the lawsuit also requests that they be fined in accordance with state law. Under the law, Mizhquiri and Fajardo could be fined up to $2,500.

"My hope is that we can enter into a stipulated judgment with the defendants whereby they agree to follow their special use permit and they agree that they do not operate a league," he said.

Mizhquiri and Fajardo are due back in court on July 15.


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