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    Tuesday, November 29, 2022

    Judge orders owner of Norwich large event venues to pay city’s legal fees

    Norwich― One month after a New London Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the city of Norwich in its long-running zoning dispute with the owner of three alleged illegal large event venues, the same judge Friday granted the city’s request that she pay its 13 months of legal fees.

    The city filed suit against property owner Huey Min Lee, who owns and operates three events venues, the Mount Crescent House at 270 Broadway, Lathrop Manor Bed & Breakfast at 380 Washington St. and a residential house at 138 Mediterranean Lane. None of the properties are zoned or permitted for large events, and the city’s regulations for bed and breakfast establishments require owner occupation.

    New London Superior Court Judge Karen A. Goodrow ruled on Aug. 4 in favor of the city’s request for an injunction that ordered Lee to stop using the properties for large events. Lee has hosted large weddings and parties with unpermitted festival tents, outdoor music and guests who have parked on city streets and at times in front of neighbors lawns.

    On Friday, Goodrow approved in part the city’s request to be paid for its legal fees during the court appeal. This includes more than $19,000 in expenses the city incurred from the June 22, 2021 date when the lawsuit was filed through July 29, 2022, the date of the final court hearing. Goodrow disallowed about $1,900 in expenses prior to and after those dates. City attorneys will need to file an amended request with exact amounts, Goodrow said.

    Lee, who represented herself in the lawsuit, did not attend the remote court hearing Friday, and has not attended any court proceedings throughout the case. Goodrow noted at the start of Friday’s hearing that Lee was sent proper notice of the hearing.

    In a text response to The Day later Friday, Lee wrote that “injunctive relief” should not apply to the city’s case against her. In response to Judge Goodrow’s order she pay the city’s legal fees, Lee wrote: “Brain dead idiots!”

    During the hearings and in the city’s written complaint city officials described their efforts to work with Lee over the past several years to try to get her to comply with city zoning, fire safety and building code regulations to no avail. The city issued notices of violation following inspections and complaints from neighbors about noise, traffic and large crowds at the locations.

    At one point during the July 1 hearing, city Building Official Dan Coley said a tent being erected at 138 Mediterranean Lane was probably “the largest tent” he had ever seen.

    “I’d almost classify it as a circus tent,” he told the judge.

    Lee was arrested in May on a criminal charge of failure to correct a safety violation at the Mount Crescent House. She failed to appear for her court date and filed a claim of false arrest.

    Zoning Enforcement Officer Richard Shuck said he is continuing to document alleged violations of the court order for events at the properties for possible future court enforcement.

    c.bessette@theday.com

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