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    Sunday, May 26, 2024

    Owner of embattled large events venues in Norwich responds to city lawsuit

    A wedding reception gets underway Oct. 17, 2020, at the Mount Crescent House bed and breakfast on Broadway in Norwich. The owner, Huey "Natalie" Min Lee, is engaged in a dispute with the city and neighbors over weddings and large events at the venue. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Norwich — The owner of three alleged illegal events venues has filed a response to the city’s civil lawsuit seeking to stop her practices, alleging the city has no jurisdiction on her private property and has violated her constitutional rights with the “shame (sic) lawsuit."

    Huey “Natalie” Min Lee is representing herself as the defendant in the civil lawsuit the city has filed seeking a court injunction to stop her from renting her properties at 270 Broadway, 380 Washington St. and 138 Mediterranean Lane for large events.

    Lee has filed a motion to dismiss the city’s suit, but the city has countered that she does not have legal authority under state law governing self-representation to represent the two LLC ownership companies for the properties. Lee countered that the city and Corporation Counsel Michael Driscoll have no legal standing to file their suit.

    In a 38-page reply filed in New London Superior Court, Lee admitted she has rented the properties through short-term rental online platforms. She wrote that the events have attracted hundreds of attendees from throughout the country, Europe and Asia to Norwich.

    She denied that the operation has been a nuisance to the residential neighborhoods and caused harm to the city.

    Instead, she wrote that her businesses are trying “to transform Norwich, this once beautiful historical city from Section 8 housing slum to a wedding destination place.” Section 8 is a housing subsidy provided to people with low incomes.

    Lee wrote that rather than harm the city, her operations have helped local florists, DJs, caterers, restaurants and other businesses.

    “Yet plaintiffs accused that defendant’s business has caused ‘irreparable injury and inference (sic) to public health and safety!!!’” she wrote. “What a joke!”

    A court hearing on the city’s request for an injunction to stop her operations was canceled last week after she filed her motion to dismiss the case.

    Lee claims her short-term rentals are allowed by state law, which imposes room taxes on the rented rooms, and that city officials have no authority over her private property rights. Throughout the document, Lee repeatedly described city officials as “Low IQ” and called Driscoll “an idiot.”

    The city has cited Lee with zoning violations for the three properties and is seeking a cease-and-desist order through the court. She was approved for a bed and breakfast at 270 Broadway, the Mount Crescent House. But she never completed the process; she didn't obtain a zoning permit and failed to meet the fire safety requirements mandated under city regulations.

    The historic Lathrop House at 380 Washington St. already was an approved bed and breakfast when she purchased it, but city regulations governing bed and breakfast inns require owner-occupation. No owner representatives live at either Mount Crescent or Lathrop houses, city officials argue.

    Neighbors have filed complaints about excessive noise, traffic and large crowds at the residential settings. Lee denied the nuisance allegation and said Norwich has no “codified noise ordinance.” She denied needing any additional zoning permits for the approved bed and breakfast operations.

    In her court response, Lee listed counter claims, alleging city and state officials have conspired against her by refusing to consider historic house exemptions for fire code requirements at Mount Crescent House. She claimed violation of state and federal anti-racketeering laws and claimed Zoning Enforcement Officer Richard Shuck committed mail fraud through alleged illegal zoning violation citations.

    Lee is seeking injunctive relief “for extortion, fraud, violation of constitution, perjury of oath of office, perjury of oath, operating (racketeering) enterprise.”


    Huey "Natalie" Min Lee, owner of the Mount Crescent House bed and breakfast on Broadway in Norwich, on Oct. 16, 2020, talks about her dispute with the city and neighbors over weddings and large events at the venue. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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