Laura Edmonds

Recent Articles

ZBA Green Lights Small Addition in Harrison Avenue Development

The Zoning Board of Appeals at its most recent meeting granted a variance allowing Don Corbo of Darien to build a small addition at 138 Harrison Ave.—one of six units in the development, consisting of three two-family homes near Main Street. Corbo, managing partner of Harrison Avenue Development, told members of the ZBA at their Oct. 2 meeting that he is converting the homes—purchased this summer for $4.2 million— from rentals to condominiums, and thus is seeking to renovate and update them. “This particular unit is the smallest and least attractive of the units,” he said during the meeting, held at Town Hall. “Right now it has only one room on the first floor which serves as a living room, dining room and kitchen.”

The plan, he said, is to build a small addition that will allow for a separate kitchen area on the ground floor and a master bedroom on the second floor. Continue Reading →

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Plan to Build Two-Family Home on East Avenue Stalls at ZBA

An application for a variance that would allow a two-family residence on East Avenue to replace a 1900-built single family home there was continued Monday night after town officials expressed concerns over the proposed driveway and pedestrian access way included in the project. On its face, property owner William Panella’s request for a variance for 72 East Ave. is straightforward: The applicant is requesting relief from the residential Zone B requirement for a minimum 100 feet of street frontage, as the property only allows for about 93 feet of frontage, and to allow the driveway from East Avenue to connect with another driveway and parking lot for an adjacent commercial property on Vitti Street. Panella plans to tear down the existing 1,400-square-foot home, where his late mother Mary had lived, as well as the detached garage in the rear and construct a new, residential style, two-family dwelling measuring about 4,000 square feet. Before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, attorney David Rucci of Lampert Williams & Toohey LLC explained that he is, in fact, representing two clients on the project, William Panella, son of the late Mary Panella, whose property is the subject of the application, and Panella’s development partner, Art Collins, who is developing an adjacent property on Vitti Street, directly behind the property on East Avenue and in the town’s Business B zone (see map below). Continue Reading →

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After Contentious Hearing, Town Officials Call for Fresh Legal Advice on ‘Sober House’ Appeal

During an emotionally charged, at times contentious public hearing that saw a line of lawyers paint vastly different pictures of what’s required of the town, officials on Monday night said they would obtain yet another legal opinion prior to deciding whether a “sober house” may operate in a single-family home in northwestern New Canaan without obtaining a permit. Those opposed to a sober house operating out of a West Road residence criticized the town’s finding that the for-profit facility needs no permit to do so, saying New Canaan should have a formal application process for the business and pooh-poohing legal advice that imposing such would trigger liability for discrimination. Those who have found that The Lighthouse may operate at 909 West Road without a permit point to federal laws that govern treatment of the disabled and fair housing practices. During a public hearing on next-door neighbor Thom Harrow’s appeal of the town’s finding before the Zoning Board of Appeals, what emerged were competing legal interpretations of what would constitute a “reasonable accommodation” for the sober house on New Canaan’s part. According to Town Attorney Ira Bloom, whose advice led to an assertion that The Lighthouse may operate its facility in the 8,000-square-foot home, New Canaan is required “to reasonably accommodate” the sober house within its own regulations. Continue Reading →

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‘I Do Not Appreciate Being Put In the Position We Are In Now’: Zoning Board Grudgingly OKs Variance on Silvermine

Scolding a contractor for moving forward with construction work on a Silvermine Road house without proper authorization, zoning officials on Monday night grudgingly approved a variance that will allow the building project to continue. Fred Nigri told members of the Zoning Board of Appeals that what started as an interior renovation (basically, a master bedroom and bathroom overhaul) at 406 Silvermine Road evolved into a larger project when workers discovered mold and rotted framing at the 1948-built Cape. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Officials Reject Request To Enclose Patio Behind Former Maples Inn Cottage

Saying the redeveloped Maples Inn property already is well over coverage, town officials on Monday denied a request from the owner of a longstanding cottage there to enclose a patio out back. Property owner Harriet Plavoukos needed variances to three sections of the New Canaan Zoning Regulations in order to enclose the existing patio, which would add 320 square feet of coverage and is located 20.6 feet from the side property line in lieu of the required 25 feet. Zoning Board of Appeals member John Mahoney told the applicant during the group’s regular monthly meeting that though he understood the building was sited very close to the property line shared by the Roger Sherman Inn and also that the structure itself predates existing zoning regulations, “How is the desire to enclose that patio not a self created hardship versus the property itself is already well over and probably always has been? How is this not a self-created hardship?”

Noting that the total allowable coverage for the former Maples Inn lot if it were a single-family home would be 4,500 square feet and that as of now some 9,200 square feet of buildings are on the property (mostly in seven condominium units), Mahoney added: “So the coverage has gone in a direction away from even the original building there in terms of growing and now it’s going to grow further.” “I understand in terms of the setback, but I am struggling a little bit with why this is not a self-created hardship,” Mahoney said at the meeting, held in the Sturgess Room at the New Canaan Nature Center. Continue Reading →

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