‘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. Specifically, Nigri on an architect’s advice and with the homeowner’s consent, installed a pitched roof where a flat roof had existed (for several reasons, see below)—a change that required approval from the ZBA because it’s located closer to a side-yard setback than the 35 feet allowed (see page 58 of the Zoning Regulations here, the home is in the 2-acre zone). “We had to make a decision because after we had the roof off, it was open, it would have been all open, so rather than put a tarp over it or whatever, after discussing it, we did enclose it, so that this way the house was not all the way open,” Nigri told the ZBA during the group’s regular monthly meeting, held in a board room at Town Hall. Yet that work was not permitted and is now at least partially finished, board member John Mahoney noted, putting the ZBA “in an awkward situation, where we now either have to grant it—in part, because it is there—or we would have to ask you to remove it.”

Nigri responded that it was not his intention to put the board in a difficult spot.

‘A Nice Improvement There’: Praise for Proposed New Home on Locust Avenue

The owners of a Locust Avenue home earned praise and approval from zoning officials Monday night after unveiling plans to replace an awkwardly positioned 3-family structure with a taller, 2-family house that encroaches on no setbacks. Chris Taroli purchased the .16-acre lot at 95 Locust Ave. for $500,000 in July, tax records show. The home there dates to 1880, according to tax records, though flat-roof additions have been added onto the side and back, it’s been “cut up in the middle” and when Taroli purchased it, the multifamily structure needed new HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems, had questionable foundations of rumble and unreinforced block and inadequate insulation, he told the Zoning Board of Appeals in a letter and at the group’s regular monthly meeting. The home also encroaches on all setbacks, and Taroli is proposing to build a new one that conforms in terms of those setbacks and coverage, though a variance is required because it would exceed allowable building height.

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).

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.

Zoning Officials OK Variance for Addition over Garage at South and Hawthorne

Town officials Monday night granted the owners of a Colonial on South Avenue a variance to build an addition above their garage. When the 1953 home at 344 South Ave. sat in the A Residence Zone, its front yard setback was 30 feet—now that figure is 35 feet in the 1/3-acre zone, officials say—a change that makes the structure legally non-conforming. Owner Gregory Carlon told the Zoning Board of Appeals at its regular meeting that the garage itself—and by extension, proposed addition above it—are over the setback boundary by very little. “We are doing renovation of our house and we are not tearing the house down, we are just trying to add two bedrooms upstairs and we seem to be over by a few inches,” Carlon said at the meeting, held in the Sturgess Room at the New Canaan Nature Center.