After a barrage of lawsuits, public attacks, conspiracy theories and lawn signs posted around town claiming town officials were trying to stop development on his property, resident Wayne Cooke has now filed a lawsuit to prevent potential development uses at exit 53.

Cooke has filed a lawsuit to prevent property owner Kris Shapiro from seeing new options to develop a parcel near Wal-Mart off exit 53, naming both Shapiro and the Branford Planning and Zoning Commission as defendants.

Shapiro came forward to the Planning and Zoning Commission last year to seek an increase in potential uses for his property. He stated that while he has attempted to see retail development on his site, there is little interest due to the lack of a full highway intersection at the exit 53 ramp. Retail outlets that pull from beyond the local area would see traffic coming from points eastbound need to get off exit 54, and return in the same manner.

Shapiro sought to increase the potential uses of the site to include some industrial and warehouse uses.

The Commission agreed, seeing the unique hardship in existence at the exit 53 area.

Cooke has filed a lawsuit to block the new potential uses for the site.

The Cooke filing state that the Commission acted “illegally, unlawfully, arbitrarily, capriciously, and in abuse of the powers vested in it.”

The are then a boilerplate list of claims, stating that the approval was against state states, violated the Plan of Conservation and Development, that no new condition was presented to support the change, and there were reasonable alternatives.

However, the Plan of Conservation and Development, which was updated as of February 1, 2019, specifically acknowledges the hardships at exit 53 due to the lack of a full interchange, and encourages the town to work with the state and property owners to try to get a full interchange.

First selectman Jamie Cosgrove, along with the South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCROG), funded and presented a plan to create a 4-way interchange. But the costs associated with the plan were over 25 million dollars, and are not available and not likely to be available anytime soon.

In the meantime, property owners are funding it nearly impossible to develop the property, and are paying tens of thousands in taxes despite no actual revenue.

Conversely, Cooke, who is attempting to develop his property at exit 56 and has it listed for 6.7 million dollars, has a favorable farm tax status on the parcel, and pays just a small fraction of what other property owners pay.

We could not find any record that shows Cooke owns property in the exit 53 area. 

The new lawsuit joins 2 other Cooke has against the town, both against former town employees, relating to a Costco application.

Interestingly, as part of the presentation to Planning and Zoning, Shapiro detailed that he had met with Costco on the exit 53 parcel, and Costco was interested to the point of visiting the site. That visit debunked one of Cooke’s frequent claims that Costco was not coming due to the current town administration.

Despite Costco’s interest in Branford, the exit 53 parcel would not work due to the lack of a full interchange.

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(14) comments

Guest

Honestly, the mill rate has climbed from 2010 of 24.27 to 29.07 in 2020. A 19.7% increase in 10 yrs. CT's economy isn't outperforming the national avg. If you folks don't begin to create value for your citizens, the net outflow of people will continue to force lower property values at the high end. For those of you who claimed 5 years ago the rich wont leave because of taxes, you now know you are wrong as there is plenty of research on this subject. CT is on the same trajectory as NJ, NY, IL and CA. Should you choose to move south, leave your politics in the north as its the exact reason why CT is in its current predicament

Guest

WHAT

Guest

It's pretty disgusting that while this guy should be mourning his deceased wife, he is spending his energy fighting the Town and the Shapiro's! Wayne Cooke is a scumbag!

Guest

Instead of mourning his wife, Cooke is focused on his vendetta against the Town and the Shapiro's. Sure shows the maturity of this toddler.

Guest

"Whiny" Wayne Cooke strikes again!!!

Guest

Maybe Cook should find something better to do with his life than argue against the town and people. It seems as though his entire life is dedicated to fighting the world. Maybe it’s time he look in the mirror and reflect. Or maybe even consider donating the money he uses to sue on a good cause or charity? Might give him some self worth. Does he even have a job or is arguing and suing his full time job?

Guest

And just maybe the lot of you commenters should find out the actual dates these papers were drawn up before you all start judging someone. Let me tell you -BEFORE the passing of Mr. Cooke's wife and the passing of Mr. Shapiro's Dad. I don't pretend to know, but I would think the lawyers involved held off on filing for a respectful period of time out of consideration for the two families. You all should be grateful you are not in the shoes of either man.

Guest

I know Cooke’s attorney Nick Mingione and I can say for sure the last thing the guys is, is “respectful”. You are right, you don’t know what you are talking about. One thing I do know is that I was on Cookes side with the whole Costco thing. I actually believed the town may have done him wrong. However this has shown his true colors, trying to block a private citizens attempt to do business.

Guest

Is there a way for the town or the citizens that are being adversely affected by this guy's baseless nonsense over the years (through lost development and subsequent tax revenues) to file some kind of lawsuit against him? Cease and desist order? His frivolous nonsense needs to stop. And yes, he has finally exposed himself as a petulant moron to everyone.

Guest

That is a VERY sad way to be introduced to The Town of Branford-

Our family hasn’t even been here a full three years ! Building a home where we thought we would establish ourselves a nice town and build a beautiful home has been nothing than headaches and PERMITS when other established families do what they want. I’ve been following lots of new changes in Branford and this is a main Problem with this person that keeps popping up. I may be new to Branford and have a fresh opion & eyes ... it hasn’t changed the Towns’ opinion of this person. Why does he have so much power and control when it’s not looking out for the best interest of his fellow neighbors and the people of Branford? Why wouldn’t you want to make the town better and live up its “ namesake” of a quiet, GENEROUS COMMUNITY?

Guest

Wayne's litigation is legitimate,DaRos,gone,Diana Ross,gone,Shapiro,gone and so on.He is grieving for his wife,and trust me she was with him all the way concerning these issues.

Guest

Ok Whiny Wayne, whatever you say bud.

Guest

Mr. Cooke was not treated well. No question about it. Town Staff denied him elements of Due Process (editing a report that was supposed to be independent). Has he responded in a disgruntled manner. To some degree. But people fail to realize that often, people have legitimate gripes. This is the Town that "slandered" a piece of property, took it, then was stuck with it because it had demeaned its value. The issues go beyond Mr. Cooke. Lastly, it is the height of hubris to stand on a soapbox and pronounce how people should grieve the loss of their love ones. 1Thess 4:11.

Guest

It seemed to me that Mr. Cooke's allegations against two Town employees in the Costco situation at exit 56 had a great deal of merit.

This lawsuit over exit 53 property however seems to me to have no merit whatsoever. Does he even have standing to bring suit in the first place? I hope the court dismisses it on that basis.

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