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Hartford Internal Audit Commission To Probe Official's Residency

Hartford’s Internal Audit Commission is investigating a senior city official over questions raised about his residence in the city.

Sean M. Fitzpatrick, Hartford’s director of development services, falls under city hall’s residency requirement and lists his address in official records as 22 Woodland St. in the Asylum Hill neighborhood. That address belongs to the Town and County Club, a members-only social club founded in the 1800s.

The club is not zoned as a residential building, but Fitzpatrick does hold a lease for one of the club’s guest rooms, according to documents obtained by The Courant.

Officials with the city’s licenses and inspections division said Tuesday that the club is “operating as a bed-and-breakfast with one tenant” by housing- and zoning-code standards. Under the city’s current zoning code, revised in January 2016, a bed-and-breakfast is defined as “a facility providing temporary lodging to the general public.”

Bruce Rubenstein, one of the chairs of the commission, said the residency question will be on the Jan. 17 meeting agenda. Fitzpatrick has been invited to attend and answer questions.

“We have no preconceived notions; we remain neutral,” Rubenstein said. “We want to hear from him as well about whether or not he actually lives at that address.”

Rubenstein said the commission’s probe into Fitzpatrick was initiated by an anonymous tip to the city’s fraud hotline, a common source for the group’s work. Local blogger Kevin Brookman first called attention to Fitzpatrick listing the club as his address last week.

Fitzpatrick, when reached by The Courant, referred all questions to Mayor Luke Bronin.

“It is my understanding that Sean satisfies all of the residency requirements,” Bronin said in a statement. “He is a tremendous asset to the City, and I’m proud to have him as part of my leadership team.”

The mayor, through a spokeswoman, declined further comment.

Fitzpatrick was appointed to the position by Bronin in January 2016. Six months later, he signed a lease at the Town and County Club for the “The Hunt Room, a.k.a. Room #6,” according to the lease.

Per that agreement, Fitzpatrick and his wife, Candace, are at-will tenants of the property on a month-to-month basis, paying $500 a month in rent.

Michael DuVal, the general manager of the club, said the club’s rooms are for members, guests and members of reciprocal clubs, and usually intended for short-term stays. The club advertises those rooms, including the one Fitzpatrick and his wife are leasing, on its website.

When asked about Fitzpatrick, DuVal said he couldn’t comment, given the “private nature of the club.”

Hartford’s municipal code stipulates “all council and Mayor appointees and Unclassified Employees employed by the City, shall maintain a continuous residence in the City during the period of such appointment or employment.”

The ordinance governing that requirement gives new hires a six-month window to become a “bona fide resident” of the city, which it defines as having a mailing address in the city, paying any motor vehicle taxes in the city and registering to vote in the city. Failure to do so can result in termination, pending a vote by the city council.

Fitzpatrick signed an affidavit of residency in July 2016 as part of an annual enforcement of the policy.

Fitzpatrick registered to vote in Hartford on July 5, 2016, and voted as recently as November in the primary election, according to a spokesman from the secretary of the state’s office. He registered his vehicle on the city’s tax rolls in 2016 and has kept up with the payments, according to documents from the city tax collector.

Fitzpatrick and his wife also own a home in Simsbury that they purchased in 2003, according to local records.

Several city officials in the current administration list addresses in Hartford while also owning property in surrounding towns. Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings’ residency was openly questioned in a lawsuit earlier this year.

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