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255 Bank Street
Founded in 1984, Security First Insurance has built its reputation on integrity, professionalism, expertise, and quality of service. A full service company, we provide personal and business insurance, life, health and employee benefits, and financial service... more.
Selectman Dick Crane
Penn Millers - Commercial Business - Contact
Security First Insurance, Inc.
WOODBURY -- There are people who find it hard to understand John Novak, who continues to crusade to have graves in the cemetery across the street from his house moved away from his property line. Novak maintains his request is justified. He built his home across from the newest section of North Cemetery and believes headstones are too close to Washington Avenue, which separates his home and the cemetery.Despite being told otherwise by town officials, Novak claims the stones are in violation of town zoning regulations, and he wants them moved. Because of this, Novak believes the gravestones are "structures," and that they should be moved at least 50 feet from the road. Novak, who is the only person in his neighborhood fighting about the cemetery, knows that moving graves would offend many people, but he doesn't want to face blame."The town messed up when they let the cemetery association bury within 50 feet," Novak said."They are the ones who should tell families that they screwed up." At least one person with a loved one buried across from Novak's property takes issue with Novak, not town officials. Novak believes the stone, as well as the 12 other new stones adjacent to his property, are eyesores. Novak claims the stones are hurting his property value.Last year, he hired an appraiser, Walter J. Kloss of Middlebury, who agreed with Novak.Novak sent a copy of that letter to town officials hoping it would help his cause."I was appalled when (Novak) said he wanted to move the bodies," she said."That shocked me." She said Novak is a good neighbor who has never complained about anything to her before.She described Novak's wife and two children as respectable people. Novak, the owner of Security First Insurance Group in Waterbury, was once First Selectman Dick Crane's campaign manager.The two were good friends until Novak last year alleged Crane was knowingly allowing illegal activity at the cemetery. That has been hard for him to do since October, when Novak filed conflict of interest charges with Gov.M.But after being told by the state to take it up with local officials, Novak dropped the allegations. "I thought I was going to get a fair chance to make my case at the local level, but nobody seems to be listening," he said. Novak asserts that land use officials and cemetery association members know they are wrong, and that they're covering it up to protect Crane.All have denied those claims. Crane said, "I want to work this issue out with John, but he's not making it easy to do so.If he went about it in a professional and straightforward manner, it would have been a lot easier.Now, we have to focus on his claims against myself and other town officials, and it's taking up a lot of time that could be spent on other important things." Because Novak does not think he's getting anywhere with town officials, he has taken his complaints back to the state. Two weeks ago, he asked the chief state's attorney to determine whether it is legal for the stones to be placed where they are, and to investigate how town officials have handled his complaints. The Zoning Commission told Novak in January the cemetery association has the right to place graves where they are because it received a special exception, from the commission, in 1974 to use the land as a cemetery.Meanwhile, Novak is still adamant about moving the headstones.He is also demanding the cemetery association do something about his complaints, according to Judson, the cemetery association's superintendent. "We told John we are going to put a landscape buffer up there (like a row of trees or a stone wall to block the view)," Judson said.