Spurred on by a dispute broken sewage pipe issue on Selztam Road and alleged backpedaling by Bridgeport, Trumbull is suing to overturn Bridgeport's approval of a magnet school in Fairchild Memorial Park.
Bridgeport approved the 1,500-student tri-magnet school on June 13, and the town joined four people, including two Trumbull residents, in gaining intervenor status almost immediately.
The recent suits, against the city's Planning and Zoning Commission and Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency, claim the park will be damaged, neighbors' property values will fall and the school will cost Trumbull money.
"The defendants failed to properly consider that the proposed regulated activities were likely to have the effect of unreasonably polluting, impairing and/or destroying the public trust in the air, water, or other natural resources of Connecticut," the suits also state.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch responded to the suits in a statement.
"I find it appalling and completely unconscionable that [Trumbull First Selectman] Tim Herbst would play politics with Trumbull's children, Bridgeport's children, and the children of six other area towns. This issue is about building a high school with 1,500 seats, nothing less and nothing more.
This is the worst type of politicking; to think that anyone would even consider standing in the way of the future educational opportunities of our children for their own political gain. It seems Tim Herbst conveniently forgets that Trumbull's own Inland-Wetlands Commission approved the very same application which Bridgeport has just approved - with the very same terms and conditions. To attack what they themselves previously approved is the height of hypocrisy.
Trumbull has completely reneged on its commitment to the Governor and his counsel, to allow the high school project to immediately move forward. Trumbull's actions may well delay, and could even imperil, the educational opportunities to be made available by the construction of this unique magnet school. I'm certain that this will be extremely disappointing to the Governor, as it is to me.
While I'm optimistic that we will be able to move forward, regardless, Mr. Herbst's efforts to delay or derail this project bring no credit to himself, or his community."
The site of the school belonged to the state and was in Trumbull but the town agreed to move the boundary, putting the parcel in Bridgeport. Bridgeport has purchased the property from the state Department of Environmental Protection for $2.8 million, said Attorney Robert Berchem, who represents the city in the matter.
In return for the change, Bridgeport agreed to support Trumbull in obtaining use of a nearby parcel off Quarry Road, which contains a Bridgeport Park Department Facility. Trumbull is also negotiating with the DEP for use of that parcel and with Bridgeport for use of the facility.
But Herbst said Bridgeport is backpedaling and now wants to share the facility.
Finch has tried "to change the rules of the deal after the fact," Herbst said.
"People will be less inclined to work with" people who do that, Herbst said.
The repsonse date for the suits is July 26.
The school was originally proposed in late 2010 and was still under review by Trumbull's Planning and Zoning Commission when the boundary shift was approved in April 2011 in the state legislature.
At issue were agreements making Bridgeport emergency workers responsible for calls to the school, and setting conditions regarding construction concerns. But once the boundary changed, the project moved into Bridgeport's hands for approval.
Trumbull would have received payments from Bridgeport if the school were built in town. About 150 Trumbull students would have been able to attend, but there may be fewer openings for them at the school now.
Further complicating the situation is Trumbull's search for a new waste treatment arrangement. Its contract with Bridgeport expires in June 2012 and Trumbull residents pay some of the highest rates in the region and the state, Herbst said. A Trumbull ad hoc committee is studying all possibilities for a solution, which could involved a 50-year contract.
And the responsibility of repairing a broken sewer line at Seltzam Road, on the border of Bridgeport and Trumbull, is still in question. Construction workers broke the pipe, which serves both communities. Herbst said it's Bridgeport's bill.