Brian Platz

Recent Articles

White Oak Shade Home Under Cease-and-Desist Has Curious Footnote in New Canaan History

The White Oak Shade home now under a cease-and-desist order after an unpermitted demolition of its second floor dates to about 1750, historic preservationists say, and appears originally to have belonged to a Canaan Parish family that earned a curious—and rather treacherous—footnote in the history of the town. According to New Canaan Historical Society files cited by Rose Scott Long, co-president of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, the home at 251 White Oak Shade Road had been labeled at one time as the “William Reid, Sr. House.”

Records show that it has been renovated several times since the 18th Century, making it “difficult to discern what was original and what was fabricated to appear original,” Scott Long told NewCanaanite.com. One historical record also notes that the home at some point was “moved back from the road.”

A census records list unearthed by Scott Long indicates that in 1790—the year of the first census in the United States—the home was inhabited by a “William Reed, Jr.”

Turning back to the clock about a dozen years, to the American Revolutionary War—historians note that in Canaan Parish (recall that New Canaan, as we know it, wasn’t incorporated until 1801), one practice among patriots as well as Loyalists seeking to maximize value in trade was to drive cattle across Westchester County to trade with the British, who paid in coin rather than unreliable Continental paper money. (Mary Louise King notes in her “Portrait of New Canaan” history that Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge, among other heroic feats of battle during the war, in 1779 moved against that illicit trade.)

The year that Lord Cornwallis would surrender, in October, at Yorktown, Va.—1781—opened in Canaan Parish with “Samuel Cooke Silliman presiding over the trials of three men and a woman who had been trading with the enemy,” King writes. Continue Reading →

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Cease-and-Desist Issued at White Oak Shade Home After Unpermitted Partial Demolition

Building officials this week issued a cease-and-desist order to the owners of an antique White Oak Shade Road home that appears already to have undergone a partial demolition though no such approvals have been granted, documents show. The New Canaan Building Department last week issued a permit for an interior renovation on the first and second floors of the 18th Century Cape Cod style-home at 251 White Oak Shade Road. The homeowners on Wednesday applied for a demolition permit. Yet a look at the ca. 1700-built Cape on Thursday showed that the second floor already had been completely demolished. Continue Reading →

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‘A Great Asset to the Town’: Selectmen Appoint New Canaan Chief Building Official To Next Four-Year Term

Officials on Tuesday appointed to a new four-year term New Canaan’s chief building official, an award-winning veteran municipal employee who oversees land use matters for the town. In his position here for 12 years, Brian Platz “is definitely our and has been recognized for his knowledge of the state’s building code,” First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectman. “Last year, he received the highest honor from his peers, the Connecticut Building Officials Association for his work,” Mallozzi said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “He also was elected president of that same group years back. Brian has stepped up in his managerial duties, he has taken a lead on budgetary and workflow issues, most recently bringing to our attention the delta between the actual land use fees and projected revenue sources.”

The board—Mallozzi together with Selectmen Beth Jones and Nick Williams—voted 3-0 for Platz’s appointment, through April 2021. Continue Reading →

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Chief Building Official: ‘Pattern’ at Grace Farms of Working Without Required Permits

Town officials are urging Grace Farms to secure permits for electrical and gas work already underway at its Lukes Wood Road campus—the most recent lapses in what amounts to a pattern for the organization since opening to the public last fall, according to those in charge of the New Canaan Building Department. Permits are needed for a propane tank and fuel line serving a generator that Grace is installing near an administrative building, as well as for an electric service change that already has been completed, New Canaan Chief Building Official Brian Platz said. Asked to put the non-permitted work into context—for example, whether the problems represent an isolated problem for Grace Farms, Platz said: “It absolutely is a pattern.”

Without securing a permit, Grace Farms did extensive work at a Lukes Wood Road house it had acquired, Platz said, installed a barbecue pit without a permit and opened facilities including a dining area without required Certificates of Occupancy. “They have demonstrated a disregard for any local authority, certainly with Planning & Zoning, Building and Health [Departments],” Platz said. Asked about the non-permitted work by NewCanaanite.com, Grace Farms officials spoke to a permit that the organization did obtain (last month, for a generator). Continue Reading →

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With Drop in Revenue from Building Permits, Town Department Streamlines Staffing

Fees collected through building permits have seen an overall decline recently, so the town department that issues them will operate with fewer staff members than usual for now, officials said Tuesday. The New Canaan Building Department will hold open a full-time position once an inspector leaves at year’s end and a part-time worker’s hours have been reduced from 20 to 10 per week, Chief Building Official Brian Platz told members of the Board of Selectmen during their regular meeting. First Selectman Rob Mallozzi and Platz both have seen a steady decline in the issuance of those permits that generate revenue for the town and worked together on a plan to staff accordingly. “We certainly have not fallen off any cliffs,” Platz said during the meeting, held at Town Hall. “I don’t think there is any cause for alarm.”

Total fees collected through building permits through the first three quarters of this calendar year are down nearly 30 percent from the same period in 2015, from about $1 million to $708,000, according to Building Department data. Continue Reading →

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