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In North Haven, Blight Complaint Turns Into Media Uproar Over A Bunny [VIDEO]

What began as a neighbor’s blight complaint has escalated into a frenzy over a child’s pet rabbit.

The Lidsky family was busily preparing for a camping trip on Thursday evening but they were constantly being distracted.

The television in the living room of their of 53 Susan Lane home was paused to the WTNH six o’clock news broadcast about 7-year-old Kayden Lidsky’s pet rabbit; the town of North Haven recently sent her father Josh Lidsky a cease-and-desist letter, stating that town zoning regulations prohibit owning rabbits on a property of the Lidskys’ size.

Josh Lidsky’s cell phone rang at least twice in an hour, calls from sympathetic residents with offers to house the rabbit if they are forced to give it up. His wife Laura Lidsky said at least a dozen similar calls had come in already. An online petition has garnered almost 2,000 signatures in support of the bunny.

The rabbit in question is a 3-year-old Flemish Giant named Sandy. Although the Lidskys have owned rabbits before, they never researched North Haven’s zoning policies on rabbit ownership.

“We’d never think to do that,” said Laura Lidsky. “I’ve had rabbits all my life.”

Earlier on Thursday, First Selectman Michael Freda fielded calls and visits from reporters after this story broke on WTNH. He contends the rabbit issue stemmed from complaints from neighbors about the visible rabbit cage. The town deemed the structure a blight and issued a citation.

“We’re not trying to take the rabbit away from the child,” Freda said. “Residents were disgusted.”

Freda said that the Lidskys can request a variance to legally override the regulation through the Zoning Board of Appeals. Town zoning regulation 8.4.1.3 states: “No livestock, rabbits … may be kept on any lot of less than two (2) acres.” The Lidskys’ property is a little over half an acre.

What do you think about this situation? Should the bunny be allowed to stay? Tell us in the comments.

Other complaints against Josh Lidsky include alleged unpaid permit fees and owed back taxes.

Trouble began in March with a complaint about an unfinished overhang on the south side of the house. Josh Lidsky said he intends to finish the construction project, which would create an indoor patio that does not increase the footprint of the house.

“We are totally in agreement with the town,” said Laura Lidsky about the blighted overhang. “But they’re trying to make us do it their way,” which she said would cost the Lidskys more money overall.

Josh Lidsky also said financial difficulties prevent him from remedying the problem, which he wanted to avoid saying at public hearings.

“I just didn’t want that aired,” he said.

The rabbit cage became a issue when building inspectors, looking into the overhang complaint, noticed the cage and considered it blight, too.

“There was no formal complaint about the bunny cage,” Josh Lidsky said. “We never expected a letter about our bunny.”

Josh Lidsky disputes the town’s documented interactions with the Lidskys and the property inspection, pointing out what he sees as inconsistencies and contradictions. Throughout 2011, the Lidskys received more than 20 visits from the police and building and zoning officials, but no fines or follow-ups were issued.

“I consider this harassment,” said Josh Lidsky.

According to Josh Lidsky, Freda’s office denied him a conversation with the first selectman.

Cindy Vanacore, the Lidskys’ neighbor, lodged the original blight complaint. Vanacore declined to comment on why she filed the complaint. She added that the neighbors were once good friends, but something personal came between them.

“I personally never see the rabbit on the lawn or anybody playing with the rabbit,” said Vanacore. “I don’t want to hurt the kid.”

Josh Lidsky can make his case at the next Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Thursday, Aug. 16.

Patrick Madley August 11, 2012 at 08:22 PM
I am in full support of Josh and his family which include the rabbit. There is no reason he cannot keep the rabbit. Honestly, who is it bothering? No one. Leave this poor man alone.
stanley rosenberg August 11, 2012 at 09:12 PM
FIRST OF ALL LETS GET THIS STRIGHT I KAYDENS GRANDFATHER WROTE A LETTER TO WTNH BEFORE JOSH CALLED WTNH ,WE ARE TALKING ABOUT MY GRANDDAUGHTER.IF IT WAS YOU YOU WILL DO THE SAME .JOSH AND LAURA JUSH WANT KAYDEN TO KEEP SANDY .THE TOWN WROTE THIS LETTER TO HAVE THEM REMOVE THE RABBIT .I DONT NOT KNOW THIS LADY IS BUT SHE BETTR TAKE HER HEAD OUT OF HER ASS.THIS IS A ISSUE THAT START ED WITH SIDNEY.STANDING ON THERE DRIVEWAY TAKEING PICTURES .HARRISING THEM .SHE USES THE TOWN .THE POLICE COME AND MY GRANDCHILDREN GET SCARED.SO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.SHE IS THE PROBLEM.JOSH LAURA YOU DO WHAT HAVE TO DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES .I AM WITH YYOU 100 PERCENT.
Melissa Smith August 11, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Ms. Becker, I never said I was on the young girls Facebook page, I said to look at JOSHUA LIDSKY'S Facebook page. FURTHERMORE, does this SEVEN year old have a Facebook page? If so, that's a clear violation of the Facebook Terms and Conditions as you need to be at LEAST 13 years of age to have a Facebook page. What kind of parent allows their child to break a rule and lie about their age to have a Social Networking page? That shows that the parents CLEARLY think they are above any and all rules if they were to allow their 7 year old to break rules set forth by a company. Please take note that I did not search to see if this child has a page on Facebook, I don't have the curiosity to do so. My point about the pictures on Mr. Lidsky's Facebook profile is that he has copious amounts of photo's of vacations, family, friends, things he has done for his company, and LOTS of pictures of their DOGS. Not a single photograph or mention of this rabbit being such an integral part of this family before the news started airing the story. So before you suggest I get help from a professional, maybe you should hire a tutor to teach you how to read as well as reading comprehension. It would do you a world of good.
ASmith August 11, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Maybe Taco Joe should go have his picture taken with the bunny. They both now have equal celebrity. Sounds like No Haven is getting as bad as our burg. If this lady paid $20,000 for a fence she was a ripped off. Anyhow she gots a fence so whats her complaint? If she cant see the neighbors yard, whats she got to complain bout? too much time on her hands to stirrup poop to me.
ASmith August 11, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Missy Melissa Smith maybe the bunny is camera shy. Grows up silly girl.
ASmith August 11, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Er Mr. Magnus did you just slander this fella? You are calling him slovenly and a liar in a public forum. You better hire yourself a good lawyer. Hope he sues your butt for slander. You is a big dope and Idont even live in your burg. Actually you belong in my burg. You'd fit right into east haven with Luigi and cajones and the gang.
ASmith August 11, 2012 at 09:39 PM
stop using your dear departed mom to get sympathy lady. that is a fools statement. leave her be in respect.
ASmith August 11, 2012 at 09:43 PM
watched them videos this whole thing is stupidier than east haven. never thought I live to see the day when north haven is acting stupidier than east haven. our burg has moved up a notch woooowwweeee!
Magnus Soevgaard August 11, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Hey AS Smith who the hell are you, legal council for New Haven?? Mr Ludsky called in the cameras now he does not like that 100% of the sympathy is not going his way and he has smart asses like to to mouth off for him. Exactly what is 'stupidier' among your grammatical errors?? Perhaps you should re enroll in Kayden's grade this year and learn something. It was never about a rabbit and a child it was about the father and his inability to get along with his neighbor. You obviously declined to contact anyone in conflict with your own skewed opinion. Where are your legal documents pertaining to this case, how did you find the other party in complete contempt of their rights?? Oh I forgot it is so easy to just talk crap when you fail to research the facts. He said in PLAIN ENGLISH that they were attacking his daughter which makes him a liar in my book so unless you have police arrest records for such an occurrence go crawl back to your 'burg' and quit trying to defend a man who hides behind bunnies to make his town and neighbors look bad.
Denise George August 11, 2012 at 11:05 PM
I'm curious. If Magnus "claims" to live in Iowa why is he subscribing to a local paper in Connecticut? You do after all need to subscribe in order to comment. Seems fishy to me. Plus why so passionate about something so far away. I suspect he's closer than what he says. I also don't really care why there's no pictures of the rabbit on Facebook. Newsflash, Facebook is not everybody's full life. Besides maybe the dogs are his pets the rabbit is hers so why would he post it? I also find it interesting how the minute someone mentions the "possibility" of the kid having a page she immediately accuses the parents of something they probably didn't even do. Grow up people. You are fighting like grade school kids. Actually the grade school kids probably wouldn't keep it going for FOUR YEARS! Really? Get a life of your own and Live and let live. Geez!
Flowers August 12, 2012 at 01:34 AM
And so this is how it ends... giant rabbits ....urinating students. Even Nostradamus could not have foreseen this.
Magnus Soevgaard August 12, 2012 at 01:44 AM
I for one am tired of the hatred displayed here. The people to contact are the city officials who are mired in emails from around the country after being dragged into a neighbor dispute. If you smell fish Denise it has nothing to do with my posts. By the way your grammar especially concerning quotation marks indicates that perhaps you need grade school.
Denise George August 12, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Magnus, get a life. Grammar really? That's the best you can do? You don't even know me but you have to "attempt" to insult me? Ta, Magnus, you're not worth my time.
Magnus Soevgaard August 12, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Perhaps 1st grade suits you best and read your own grammatically error prone messages before you accuse other of insults.
susan August 12, 2012 at 12:16 PM
To the so called neighbors who started this....you need to take a look at your own indiscretions before pointing a finger at a seven year old with a bunny rabbit. Sick!
Just my opinion August 12, 2012 at 07:49 PM
So I have read all of the posts. I will not pass judgement on anyone nor insult anyone. I have one question and maybe a bit of advise. My question is what is this really about? It seems like the town is after violations and in doing so they have issued a letter stating the rabbit coop is in violation. If that is the case they are not saying Bunny must go . They are saying the cage must go. I have a rabbit or should say my daughter has a bunny she lives in our house. She has a cage to go to when she is not out on the floor. She is litter box trained and is cleaner than any other animal I have ever owned. It appears that on the part of the home owner is an attempt to make the bunny the issue. I think that if the town is talked to the real truth will come out. violations need to be corrected in a timely fashion. Having pictures of children with the bunny mean little or nothing except maybe they never thought about taking a picture of them together. It almost seems like this is more about neighbors who are fed up with a situation attempting to get help from the town and the town deciding enough is enough. Also it is no right to air each neighbors dirty laundry on this page. I wish all the best and hope the best thing for the bunny and child is done.
Denise George August 12, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Just My Opinion, nice calm levelheaded suggestions. Finally.
Jibba Jabber August 13, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Blight!! I walked the property saw SIX DEAD TREES ON TOWN PROPERTY,OVERGROWN BRUSH AND GRASS ON TOWN PROPERTY.As for rabbit it is liter box trained cannot even be seen unless you are in backyard and is right outside back door.How is that blight??? Next we bring up dirty laundry,how many people owe tax money?? That is not issue the issue is a rabbit. The town barked up a wrong tree to fly off a handle,ther are alot of blight issues that belong to the town drive around and see,did they serve the state a blight citation for the garage on the corner of Hartford tpke and Bishop st??? This town internally has many nepotism issues that are never addressed,and when they are they are shut down by a committee that has connections. Lets pick on a girl and her bunny!!! It is a shame I live in such a corrupted town,I wish the news would interview people with serious litagations going on and some soon to come!!
Melissa Smith August 14, 2012 at 09:31 AM
Since the original comments were made, the story has been updated as well as changed. A direct quote from Josh Lidsky himself: “There was no formal complaint about the bunny cage,” Josh Lidsky said. “We never expected a letter about our bunny.” So for all the people talking horribly about a person they don't know making a complaint about the rabbit, how does it feel to find out the truth? That NOBODY made a DIRECT complaint about the rabbit, but when the property was inspected for the blight that was actually complained about, the TOWN BUILDING INSPECTORS "noticed the cage and considered it blight, too." The best part is: “We are totally in agreement with the town,” said Laura Lidsky about the blighted overhang. So to sum this up in a nutshell... The town building inspectors responded to a blight complaint about an overhang, that Laura Lidksy AGREES is in fact a BLIGHT. While the inspectors were there, THEY noticed the rabbit hutch and THEY considered it a blight as well as the overhang. NO neighbor DIRECTLY complained about the rabbit, therefore NO neighbor wants to make the child suffer. It was the TOWN BUILDING INSPECTOR that made that decision with NO prompting or complaint from anybody about it. Isn't it funny how the truth always comes out? I think there are some people in this comment section that owe Mrs. Vanacore an apology for things said before the whole story was published.
Lou August 14, 2012 at 11:21 AM
At Melissa Smith, if the overhang bothers you so much wouldn't your time be better spent helping them fix it instead of wasting time with these comments. If your not part of the solution your part of the problem. Now get the neighbors together and help this guy fix his house! Geez
Laur Lidsky August 14, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Well Melissa, Josh was probably speaking that there was no formal compliant from the town. Cindy Vanacore DID send a complaint to the town about the rabbit and cage.
Melissa Smith August 14, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Not according to the public records at the Town Hall Mrs. Lidsky.
Melissa Smith August 14, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Not according to the public records at North Haven Town Hall, Mrs. Lidsky. I have personally viewed the original blight complaint at the Town Hall. Like I said, it's public record. Anyone can request to view original complaints.
MG August 14, 2012 at 05:05 PM
A lack of Facebook photos. Wow, what an indictment. Melissa, I'll give you the benefit of my assumption that you squeezed in this research during morning announcements in homeroom. Because no one should be putting this much stock in Facebook past 8th grade graduation.
Laur Lidsky August 14, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Too bad you missed this one,,,,I have it in my file...
Laur Lidsky August 14, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Maybe I should take a pic of it for you
Laur Lidsky August 15, 2012 at 02:27 AM
You got quiet Melissa. Did you go back to the town and see the letter of complaint from Cindy?
Jason Thacker August 16, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I would just like to make one thing very clear: This has nothing to do with neighbor disputes, property disputes, back taxes or unfinished home projects. The matter up for discussion here - and the one to which the petition applies - is the desire of the town to remove a pet from a small child by applying a LIVESTOCK ORDINANCE to a PET rabbit. Notice how the family has had the rabbit for three years. I doubt it just hit 20lbs this year. Rabbits do, I believe, age as fast as cats or dogs, or near enough. And yet, the bunny's size is mysteriously a problem just now? I think not. If other disputes exist between the family and neighbors, or the town, fine. Apply the applicable laws and solve them. But the bunny has nothing to do with unfinished home improvements/repairs, back taxes or property disputes with neighbors. Leave the bunny and the children out of those disputes. And for crying out loud: Stop trying to apply outdated LIVESTOCK ordinances to a PET. The town is traumatizing a little girl, and should be both ashamed and criminally liable for their behavior.
Jason Thacker August 16, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Josh: Keep fighting the good fight. You're in the right here, sir. Back taxes, unfinished home improvements, property disputes - those things might exist. No one is perfect; projects don't always come in on time and times are hard for all of us. Like you I have made some mistakes in my life and I understand what it means to not be perfect. But none of those things has anything to do with your daughter's pet. Not. One. Single. Thing. The simple fact is this: The town knows the rabbit is NOT livestock. They know that. Someone is trying to apply a livestock ordinance to a pet in order to get back at you for something which has nothing to do with the pet. You really should cease and desist all posts on here and hire a lawyer. I am pretty sure the town would straighten up and fly right - as would your neighbor - if their every complaint, post and gripe were followed by the words "Please address this with my Attorney." And for the expensive lawyers out there: Perhaps this family cannot quite afford your billing rates. I am pretty certain, however, that handling this case for fees they could afford would go miles in terms of PR and good advertising. Consider it.
Bhavna Patel August 25, 2012 at 01:12 AM
The rabbit should be able to say, the government says its a free country but they put so many restrictions on how we live. So many people I'm associated with have pets. A rabbit is the same as a cat and dog its child's capanion. When we hear the word 'rabbit' normally people think of a child's companion but very little people think of a rabbit as livestock. The town needs to stop all this and stop ruining the breed of rabbits.

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