Luke Tashjian

Recent Articles

‘This Is Completely Inappropriate’: Sober House Operators, Neighbor Fail To Reach Accord

Though they had appeared close to reaching an agreement, the operators of a sober house on West Road home and a neighbor appealing the town’s decision to allow it have failed to reach an accord, representatives said during a public hearing last week. Now, the question of whether the sober house may continue to operate—or, more likely, under exactly what conditions it will continue—is entirely in the hands of town officials who heard attorneys from both sides make their cases at a June 5 meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals. During an unusual ZBA hearing that featured spirited interruptions and apologies, appellant Thom Harrow told board members that the owners of The Lighthouse proposed a series of conditions under which they agreed to run a sober house living facility for men at 909 West Road. According to Harrow, just one point of disagreement remained at the time the ZBA hearing opened—a question of whether six or eight clients would be allowed in the 8,000-square-foot home at one time. Harrow, Lighthouse officials and various attorneys took a break following an initial part of the hearing—ostensibly to sort out that final matter. Continue Reading →

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Owner of Historic Park Street Home Seeks Increased Flexibility in Home Office Use

The owner of a prominent Park Street house that’s lingered on the market for two years is seeking more flexibility from town officials than the New Canaan Zoning Regulations normally allow, regarding his home office. Richard Bergmann, an architect who since 1973 has owned the stately and well-preserved Greek revival at 63 Park St.—a house located in New Canaan’s Historic District that had been owned by Maxwell Perkins, masterful Scribners editor of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Wolfe—on Monday night asked zoning officials for permission to allow the home’s owner to not live in the house while still using its first floor as an office. Specifically, he’s seeking a variance to a section of the zoning regulations (see page 47 here) that allows for a home-based business by permit so long as the person working there also uses the same dwelling as his or her primary residence, among other requirements. One of those requirements is that no more than one nonresident of the house can be employed on the premises—Bergmann in 1985 obtained a variance that allowed him to employ two people in addition to himself at the 1837-built Park Street home. In making his statement of hardship, which Bergmann reviewed before the Zoning Board of Appeals at its regular meeting Monday night, the homeowner noted that the house is adjacent to the town’s business district and that a similarly situated residence already has the allowances that he’s seeking. Continue Reading →

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‘We Have Got Something Else’: Town Officials Deny Bid To Redo Century-Old Barn’s Exterior in Stone without New Application

Town officials last week denied a West Road homeowner’s request to amend without an entirely new application the exterior of a renovated barn, from the traditional red-painted wall boards of a century-old structure to stone. Saying a stone exterior would create a more substantive change than what they already had approved, members of the Zoning Board of Appeals during their regular meeting on April 3 said a new variance would be needed in order to redo a barn at 416 West Road with a stone exterior. The ZBA’s rationale for approving an application that came before the board in December was to match existing barns along that stretch of West Road, but “I feel like this is completely in the opposite direction,” board member Luke Tashjian said at the meeting, held at Town Hall. “The only thing still looks like barn is it has got these doors on it,” he said of a new set of drawings. “If you take these doors off, it looks like a stone house to me.”

The ZBA voted 5-0 to approve only a minor change to the windows on the barn, which is to undergo a comprehensive renovation. Continue Reading →

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Did You Hear … ?

It’s Spirit Week at New Canaan High School, and Tuesday was “Costume Day.” The photos above were snapped at ABC House of New Canaan Tuesday morning (thanks, John). ABC House is set to hold its 42 annual fundraiser at the Country Club of New Canaan. The gala will include a live auction and raffle, and will be attended by ABC scholars, their families and host families. Here’s more information on the event and how to get tickets. ***

Boston, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Tulsa, Detroit … New Canaan. Continue Reading →

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Zoning Officials Turn Down Ponus Ridge Man’s Proposed Garage

Citing a next-door neighbor’s concerns about a proposed 20-foot-high garage that would sit entirely in a side yard setback, zoning officials on Monday rejected a Ponus Ridge man’s bid to locate the freestanding structure alongside his 1963-built home. John Finnigan of 366 Ponus Ridge told the Zoning Board of Appeals at its regular meeting that only sensible place for the post-and-beam, two-bay garage was on the south side of his 2,200-square-foot home at 366 Ponus Ridge. Saying his hardships were a one-acre property in the two-acre zone, and that his current driveway cannot be moved around to the roomier side of his home because of leaching fields located there, the homeowner sought a variance that would locate the garage 12.2 feet from the property line in lieu of the required 35. ZBA member John Mahoney said he understood that the placement of the home on the lot was a problem and that he’s “somewhat sympathetic” to the problem of relocating the driveway at great expense, “I do struggle with the amount of the ask in that the whole thing is sitting inside the setback.”

The ZBA voted 5-0 against granting the variance at its meeting, held in the Sturgess Room at the New Canaan Nature Center. The board members aksed whether the homeowner had talked to his neighbors (yes), whether it’s a one-car garage (no, two-car), whether the property includes a well (yes, though it isn’t clear just where it’s located), how tall is the proposed garage (nearly 20 feet at its peak) and whether the garage has a room above (yes, it would include electricity and a ping pong table for the homeowners’ three boys). Continue Reading →

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