Richard Zini, a senior architect at Doyle-Coffin Architecture in Ridgefield, was first elected to serve on the Monroe Planning & Zoning Commission in 2007 and was chairman for the past three years, leading it through the updating of the Town Plan of Conservation & Development and heading its subcommittee on capital projects. On Thursday, he resigned from the commission.
In a short letter to Town Clerk Marsha Beno, Zini wrote:
Dear Madame Clerk,
Effective this date, I formally notify your office of my retirement from the Planning & Zoning Commission as both an elected Commissioner and its Chairman. It has been my honor to serve the Town of Monroe as a volunteer elected official. I wish the best for the Town going forward in all its endeavors. I thank the Town and my fellow residents for their support, and the opportunity to be of service to the community.
Richard A. Zini, Jr.
A voicemail was left on Zini's cell phone seeking comment on what spurred his decision and he sent Patch an email politely declining to comment.
On Friday morning, the Town Clerk expressed sadness at Zini's decision to resign.
"It's a loss for the town," Beno said. "I think he served the town well, being Planning & Zoning Commission chairman and heading up CIFAP, that was a monumental task he had."
First Selectman Steve Vavrek said, "He's going to be sorely missed. He's done a lot to get Planning & Zoning to work on the regulations and to follow its POCD. He was instrumental in getting the land use department reorganized, which is something we worked on together."
Last year, Zini was honored at the Monroe Republicans' annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner as the "Rising Republican Star". "Under Rick's leadership, the P&Z Commission has been revitalized and has recently completed the Plan of Conservation and Development — the master plan for Monroe for the next 10 years in addition to working on the revisions to Monroe's Zoning Regulations," the GOP press release said.
Originally from Massachusetts, Zini moved to Monroe in 2004. "In his free time, Rick enjoys spending time with his family sailing the New England coastline," according to the press release.
'A Jewel of Monroe'
On Friday, Republican Town Committee Chairman Jeff Guttman said he was "a little surprised," when Zini had resigned. It was on the same day of a Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.
"I know that he's been tremendously busy at work and it's hard to sometimes juggle a lot," Guttman said.
However, he deferred to Zini when asked what spurred his decision to step down.
"Rick Zini has been a jewel of Monroe in the past 5-and-a-half-years, getting our land use development wing together and trying to push Monroe forward on the right foot, and getting things done right," Guttman said. "He's going to be sorely missed, not only by the staff at town hall and the commission, but by the public because he's been on their side since the day he came to the town of Monroe and got involved."
"The way I know Rick, he's never going to really be gone," Guttman said. "He'll be there. If anyone needs to ask anything, he'll be there."
The Town Council must approve a Republican candidate to fill the opening created on the Planning & Zoning Commission. Guttman encourages interested candidates to visit MonroeCTGOP.com.
Democratic Town Committee Chairman Nick Kapoor, who attends P&Z Commission meetings as the Town Council liaison, said of Zini, "I think that he was a fair chairman. The meetings that I attended, he had always given each applicant their chance. He gave everybody a chance.
"He knew the law. He knew the Connecticut General Statutes. He knew the Monroe zoning regulations backwards and forwards. He knew what he was talking about — and that is very important being on a commission that deals exclusively with Connecticut law and the Monroe zoning regulations, which is in itself law related."
On Thursday night, P&Z Vice Chairman Patrick O'Hara led the meeting.
"I'm proud of every one of the commissioners for stepping up for the people of the town of Monroe," he said of their carrying on with a full agenda that included three public hearings.
O'Hara declined to elaborate on Zini's tenure, but did say, "You don't find guys like Rick Zini coming to public service everyday."
A special meeting will be held at 6:45 p.m. next Thursday, in which the commission will elect its new chairman. Its regular meeting will follow at seven.
Commissioner William Porter had been a member of CIFAP and will now serve as chairman of the committee in Zini's place. He will also represent the town at Greater Bridgeport Regional Council meetings with First Selectman Steve Vavrek.
Prior to his resignation, Zini was the longest seated P&Z commissioner.