TV Board Defends Showing River Oaks Spot
Courant Staff Writer
March 2 2007
SIMSBURY -- A
member of Simsbury Community Television's board of directors is defending the
decision to show a slick 30-minute presentation about River Oaks, a
controversial mixed-use development being planned for a 60-acre site on Route 10
now occupied by Connecticut Light & Power.
Speaking at a board of
selectmen meeting Monday, Jewel Gutman said the board agreed to run the spot
because it contained the same information expected to be presented when the
project's developer, Konover Corp., submits a formal application.
felt the public should have it as well," Gutman told selectmen. "We felt very
strongly that this is public information and we would welcome the opposition to
have debate about it on SCTV. The board did not take a position on the matter."
Gutman was reacting to a complaint filed by resident Bruce Elliott, who
also addressed selectmen Monday. Elliott said it was inappropriate to show the
video, which details architecture, landscaping, traffic and other aspects of the
proposed retail, office and residential project.
Elliott said the piece
violated SCTV prohibitions against commercial content. He said it benefited
those financially tied to the project, including Michael Goman, president and
chief executive of Konover's development division and a member of the town
school board; Mike Bradley, a former town zoning commission chairman who is a
real estate broker handling the sale of the property; and T.J. Donohue, a
Simsbury attorney acting as a land-use counsel and general consultant on the
"I think as taxpayers we have an obligation to say something
about it," Elliott said.
Karen Hanville, station manager at SCTV, could
not be reached Thursday. However, an operations assistant there, Althea Greaney,
said Konover did not pay to have the video shown on the channel.
presentation ran throughout February. Plans are to continue running it, Greaney
said, but the board has consulted state regulators about the matter and is
expected to discuss it further at a meeting Tuesday.
Such programming is
allowed under federal regulations, as long as a community access channel is not
paid to air a program, said Beryl Lyons, spokeswoman for the Department of
Public Utility Control, the state agency regulating community access television
"They can't run an ad but if any developer wants to come
on and talk about how wonderful his development is, he can," Lyons said. "An
infomercial is a program, not paid content, and under the First Amendment, it
fits into what is considered public access."
On Thursday, Donohue said
he expects the application on the project to be submitted next
Opposition to River Oaks has been building in recent months and
speakers both for and against it dominated the public audience portion of
Monday's selectmen's meeting. Bill Miller, president of Simsbury Homeowners
Advocating Responsible Expansion, or SHARE, presented selectmen with petitions
signed by 2,210 residents opposed to the project.
SHARE members have
raised questions about a Dec. 28 vote by the town planning commission proposing
to remove wording in the town's plan of conservation and development that
limited the size of new buildings to 40,000 square feet - an omission SHARE
believes is intended to allow Konover to include a Target store at River Oaks.
Bradley resigned as chairman of the zoning commission in April after
SHARE and others called attention to his involvement in the River Oaks
The split decision in December for and against pulling the
40,000-square-foot limit on building size has divided the planning commission
and stalled release of a revised plan of development and conservation, which is
already years overdue.
Miller filed a request last week with the
planning commission to amend the plan to restore the restrictions.
Contact Loretta Waldman at email@example.com.
Copyright 2007, Hartford Courant