Saying they’re worried about property values, smells, insects and wildlife, the owners of an Oenoke Ridge Road home are objecting to a neighbor’s application to build an approximately 2,000-square-foot, single story barn that would house rescued pigs, sheep and goats.
The barn at 1770 Oenoke Ridge Road and its “let-out pens”—an apparent reference to an area out front of the barn that would be enclosed by pasture fencing—would be a “substantial detriment to the neighborhood,” according to a letter submitted to the Planning & Zoning Commission by David and Rosie Albright of 1752 Oenoke Ridge Road.
“We believe that this proposed variance would have serious negative implications to property values, potentially negatively affect he well water/drinking water systems, and have detrimental impacts on the overall living environment of the immediate neighborhood,” the Albrights wrote.
“Regarding the overall living environment, we are specifically concerned about the impacts on air quality due to odors from the animals themselves, manure and manure dumpster, insect control, as well as the let-out pens being constructed in the front yard, in very close proximity to our property. Further, we strongly believe that the aesthetics of let-out pens for such animals positioned in their front yard and visible from Oenoke Ridge will have a negative impact on the surrounding properties.”
Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, a homeowner may apply for a special permit to allow accessory buildings that cover more than 1,000 feet. Under the provision, such buildings must comply with yard setbacks for a principal structure in the zone and, if located in a front yard, must be at least 150 feet from the street (see page 53 here).
The proposed barn would be 183 feet from the street and with a maximum height of 14-feet-six-inches and an average roof height of 26 feet, according to an application filed by attorney David Rucci of New Canaan-based Lampert, Toohey & Rucci LLC on behalf of his client, Laura Boswerger.
To be “dedicated to the protection of animals,” the barn specifically will serve pigs, sheep and goats facing “adverse conditions” or the slaughterhouse, according to Rucci.
“The location, nature and height of the buildings, walls and fences, planned activities and the nature and extent of landscaping on the site will be such that the use shall not hinder or discourage the appropriate development and use of the adjacent land and buildings or impair the value thereof,” Rucci said in the application.
He continued: “When finished, the barn will present itself as quiet and restrained. The design is attractive and consistent with other barns within the 4-acre zone … The exterior appearance will blend into the environment surrounding it. All fencing will be in compliance with the height restrictions. The new structure will also be suitable in relation to its site characteristics … The applicant has designed an aesthetically pleasing barn. The barn location and size are consistent with properties with multiple structures in the four-acre zone.”
P&Z is scheduled to take up the application at its regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall.
In her memo to the Commission, Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni said that if P&Z is inclined to approve the application, it should consider several conditions. They include that the paddock area be maintained in a vegetated state, and that use be rotated as needed to allow for regeneration of ground vegetation and avoid erosion. Another proposed condition would require that prior to the issuance of a building permit, the applicant submit a signed and sealed architectural plan “that indicates the interior dimensions of the animal stalls and the exterior facade materials.”
In voicing their opposition, the Albrights said the area has “several natural predators to sheep, goats and pigs which could put these sheltered animals in danger.”
“Each year a den of foxes is birthed that roam/hunt on our neighbors’ properties,” the Albrights wrote in their letter. “Coyotes are present and give birth to one or more cubs per year. A full-grown black bear has been sighted on Oenoke Ridge last fall, and bobcats have been sighted in the area recently. As background, we owned a property in County Kerry, Ireland in a valley of sheep farmers. The sounds, smells and feeding/care of these animals cannot be underestimated. It was a full-time job, not a hobby. It requires constant maintenance and pasture rotation to keep them healthy and well fed.”