The town of Bridgewater has spent some $280,000 in legal fees related to New Milford attorney Paul Garlasco's continuing suits against the town's Planning and Zoning Commission.

The latest suit, now under the name of Garlasco's wife, Hanna Anderson's corporation Neck of the Woods, is part of an ongoing battle over the commission's denial of Garlasco's proposal to build on land he owns in town eight years ago.

In June, Garlasco appealed the state Superior Court's May 31 declaratory judgment in favor of Bridgewater to the state Appellate Court. Briefs are due in the appeal Nov. 1.

"The commission's attorney in the suit, Murtha Cullina LLP, has billed the town for some $245,000," said First Selectman Bill Stuart. "The town attorney, Fred Baker, has been paid some $40,000."

Stuart said the Board of Selectmen became involved in the suit because the commission asked the selectmen to defend it in the case.

In the May ruling, Judge John A. Danaher III said an 18th century road known as Sturdevant Road was abandoned more than 100 years ago and it -- and the section known as Old Town Highway -- are discontinued roads by state statute.

Attorney Keri Olson, representing the town with Cullina, explained that Garlasco's and Anderson's purpose in the lawsuit was to have Old Town Highway declared a town road so they could use it to meet frontage requirements to obtain the driveway permit necessary to build on the property.

"Now the town's lack of responsibility for the road has been established," Olson said. "This is an ancient roadbed that, if it even was possible to restore, would be astronomical in cost to do so."

"In my legal research, I discovered Mr. Garlasco's property has right of access to Botsford Hill Road, which he chose not to avail himself of, instead choosing to go after the town," Olson added.

A call to Garlasco, who is representing Anderson, was not returned.

The declaratory judgment action was splintered off a federal lawsuit brought by Anderson claiming she was being discriminated against by Bridgewater's Planning and Zoning Commission.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322