Owner of Property Straddling New Canaan-Stamford Line Seeks Permission To Build New Home

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Single-level home planned for 96 West Cross Road. Specs by Ryan Salvatore Design

The owners of a 1.3-acre property that straddles the New Canaan-Stamford border are requesting permission to build a single-family house that exceeds what normally would be allowed under local zoning regulations.

If the property at 96 West Cross Road all were all located in New Canaan, the allowable building coverage would be about 4,000 square feet, according to part of the application for a variance, filed by New York City- based Ryan Salvatore Design. 

The property’s owners, Sharon and John Feighery, are seeking to a variance from the New Canaan Zoning Regulations order to build a home using 4,830 square feet of coverage, the application said.

Currently, the property includes 1,718-square-foot Cape, according to tax records. They’d purchased it in December for $628,500 “with the intent to relocate from Stamford to Town given that several of their children live in New Canaan,” the application said.

“They desire to construct a new single-family house organized entirely on one-level so that they can age at this location,” it said. “The improvements will include a new driveway, terrace, drainage, septic system, well, and landscaping.”

The Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to take up the application during its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.

In a memo to the Board, Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni notes that the buildable area of the lot in New Canaan is just over half an acre. 

“Since Building Coverage is determined by the size of the lot as opposed to the zoning district—in an effort to not penalize owners of large lots in areas with smaller lot zoning or vice versa—the construction of a single story house on this parcel is challenging,” Brooks Avni said in the planner’s memo.

The hypothetical building coverage calculated on the owner’s behalf—the allowable coverage if the entire parcel were not bisected by a town line—“is still in excess of what would be permitted,” Brooks Avni notes. “[H]owever, it is much closer and the variance request would be much smaller,” she said in the memo.

Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations (see page 159), where a parcel is split between New Canaan and an adjoining town, no zoning permit can be issued for constructing a building unless “all of that part of the building used for human habitation is located entirely within one Town” and “all accessory buildings used for human habitation in connection therewith are located in the same Town.”

According to the applicant, the regulations are intended “to ensure some general conformity with setbacks, massing, and other building characteristics within a general neighborhood or zone.”

“This helps prevent aberrations among any of those qualities,” the application said. “In this case, the Regulations penalize the property owner and mandate a house of smaller size and mass than would be consistent with the surrounding properties. The average passerby on West Cross Road hardly knows that the Southerly portion of this property (or those adjacent to the East and West) is in Stamford; it would be imprudent to manifest that site condition in the character of the house that interacts with the others along West Cross Road because it would foist upon the neighborhood a house that is artificially small.”

The three-bedroom house that is envisioned for the property is “modest by contemporary New Canaan standards,” the application said.

“The proposed residence will be constructed of high-quality materials and will not only fit seamlessly with the scale and atmosphere of the existing houses along West Cross Road but will contribute significantly to the character of the Street,” the application said.

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