‘It’s Not Even a Close Call’: ZBA Unanimously Denies Oenoke Ridge Road Neighbor’s Appeal

Saying a New Canaan couple has misinterpreted and incorrectly applied both local ordinances and state laws, town officials last week unanimously rejected an appeal that would have forced their next-door neighbor to apply for a special permit. The activities at 757 Oenoke Ridge Road do not rise to the level of farming as defined by the Connecticut General Statutes, and in any case the parcel likely is grandfathered since applicable town regulations came after the family that lives and enjoys their property there now have done so since before their adoption, members of the Zoning Board of Appeals said during their regular meeting. The ZBA voted 5-0 to deny an appeal brought by Peter and Kathy Streinger, of 785 Oenoke Ridge Road. “To me, it’s not even a close call,” board member Angelo Ziotas said at the Nov. 7 meeting, held at Town Hall.

‘The Answer To That Is Emphatically, No’: Town Planner Finds That Oenoke Ridge Road Homeowner Is Not Operating a Farm

The Oenoke Ridge Road homeowner whose property is the subject of a neighbor’s zoning appeal is, in fact, not a farm under the state’s definition of the term, according to New Canaan’s advising town planner. Though the McQuilkins of 757 Oenoke Ridge Road keep egg-laying chickens and fur-bearing alpacas, they’re not taking those commodities to market for direct sale, Steve Kleppin said in a memo issued ahead of Monday night’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting. The ZBA is expected to discuss an appeal brought by the McQuilkins’ neighbors, Peter and Kathy Streinger, who argue that the keeping of animals and equipment rises to the legal definition of ‘farming’ and requires a special permit. In his advisory comments sent ahead of Monday’s meeting to the ZBA, Board of Selectmen and town attorney, Kleppin notes that “the McQuilkins have on occasion sold eggs from a farm stand on Oenoke Ridge as indicated in the photographs provided.”

“I have instructed the McQuilkins that the sale of or bartering of eggs or other products, whether sold on the property or elsewhere, would constitute farming and require a special permit. They have agreed that they would not sell or barter items produced on the property and would seek a special permit should they decide to do that.

Oenoke Ridge Road Neighbor Files New Appeal Claiming Violations of Town Code, Zoning Regulations

Three months after town officials unanimously rejected one appeal from an Oenoke Ridge Road couple that centered on the way their neighbor used an accessory structure, they’re seeking to force that same neighbor to apply for a special permit for what they deem to be “farming activities.”

Peter and Kathy Streinger of 785 Oenoke Ridge Road said in a new appeal that their neighbor to the west keeps animals (chickens, alpacas and recently, a rooster) in a way that rises to the definition of “farming” under local and state laws and “materially impacts the property values” of surrounding homes. The Streingers said they’re appealing “erroneous interpretations and decisions” by the town and want their neighbor to put in for a special permit in order to continue activities on the property. The Streingers’ property is 4.32 acres, tax records show, their neighbors’ is 4 acres. Specifically, the Streingers take issue in their appeal—it’s available here, in the dropdown menu—with the town’s finding that their neighbor is keeping animals in a way that is consistent with town regulations. Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations (see page 46 here), residents may keep animals in accordance with the provisions outlined in Chapter 6 of the Town Code—a section that limits potential problems such as noisy or roaming animals, and seeks to preserve public health.

Town Denies Appeal from Neighbor Regarding Use of Guest Cottage on Oenoke Ridge Road

Backed by documents showing that an Oenoke Ridge Road accessory structure received town approval for use as a guesthouse, and citing the many years it has been occupied as such without complaint, officials last month rejected a next-door neighbor’s appeal regarding the building’s use. The Zoning Board of Appeals at its most recent meeting by a 5-0 vote denied an appeal that had been filed this spring on behalf of Peter and Kathleen Streinger, owners of 785 Oenoke Ridge Road. They had sought to halt use of a guest cottage on the property to their west as a dwelling, saying it violated the New Canaan Zoning Regulations and conditions attached to a subdivision approved in 2003. However, the town planner told ZBA members in a memo ahead of the group’s Aug. 1 meeting, a subsequent owner of the property in question (number 757 Oenoke Ridge Road) in 2004 applied for a special permit exempting the historic accessory structure from building coverage under a newly enacted regulation (see page 148 here).

Oenoke Ridge Road Homeowner Claims Neighbor Is Violating Zoning Regulations, Town Code

An Oenoke Ridge Road couple is calling for town officials to force a neighbor to stop using a guest cottage as a dwelling, keep livestock and attendant feces away from a shared property line and ensure that the animal waste and sewage from the accessory structure pose no risk to their drinking wells. According to a letter filed on behalf of Peter and Kathy Streinger of 785 Oenoke Ridge Road, activities on the property to their west violate the New Canaan Zoning Regulations and conditions attached to a subdivision approved in 2003. Those activities also violate several parts of the Town Code and “reduce the value of the Streinger property,” “interfere with the quiet enjoyment of their home” (their 2004-built, 10,000-square-foot house sits on 4.32 acres, tax records show) and “threaten to contaminate the Streingers’ potable water well,” according to a May 23 letter sent to the New Canaan Planning & Zoning Commission by attorney Joseph Williams of Shipman & Goodwin, whose locations include offices in Greenwich and Stamford. “The Streingers have brought one or more of these violations and issues to the attention of” town officials and “their inquiries and complaints, made in good faith, appear to have been disregarded or, worse, treated with rudeness and disdain,” the letter said. The town has not yet received a formal response from the Streigners’ neighbors—either from the property owners themselves or any attorneys who may act on their behalf, according to a public file on the matter.