‘The Glass House’ Seeks Permission To Reopen with Limited On-Site Parking

A National Trust for Historic Preservation site on Ponus Ridge that draws architecture enthusiasts and other visitors from around the world is seeking permission from the Planning & Zoning Commission to reopen in a limited way, as per COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions. 

The Glass House in May won P&Z approval to open under similar conditions for a limited period of time, has applied to the Commission for permission to have up to 16 visitors’ cars park at the 49-acre site itself, since the nonprofit organization’s small tour buses wouldn’t allow or social distancing, according to its executive director. “[T]he Glass House proposes that, for a finite period of time, visitors be allowed to drive to the site,” Greg Sages wrote in a Jan. 27 cover letter to P&Z. “On-site parking would be limited to 16 cars. Parking at West School is not available this year as in-school learning is in effect.

Divided P&Z Approves October Wedding at The Glass House

Despite concerns voiced by a Planning & Zoning Commission member who lives near The Glass House, the appointed body last week voted 4-2 to allow the organization to host a wedding this fall on its Ponus Ridge campus. Dick Ward, a P&Z commissioner who lives on Winfield Lane, .3 miles from the National Trust for Historic Preservation site, said approval of the Oct. 4 wedding “would, in my opinion, create perhaps an unnecessary and perhaps dangerous precedent, on two levels.”

“One is it’s been our longtime practice that financial considerations are not a criteria to support a Special Permit or an amendment to a Special Permit,” Ward said during P&Z’s regular meeting, held Aug. 25 via videoconference. “And it’s pretty clear that the request is based on a financial concern and I don’t think we want to open that door.

Glass House Seeks P&Z Approval To Extend COVID-Related Flexibility Through Tour Season

Saying they expect the state’s social distancing guidelines to remain in place as the COVID-19 virus pandemic persists, officials at The Glass House are seeking to extend to the end of the tour season a handful of special allowances from the Planning & Zoning Commission. P&Z in May approved a Glass House request to allow a small amount of parking on-site at Ponus Ridge, and to permit overflow parking in the nearby West School lot. Granted amid coronavirus-related restrictions on museums the Glass House officials said would make its regular operation prohibitively difficult—specifically, observing social distancing requirements in small vans used to get tour-goers from a downtown Visitors Center to The Glass House itself—the allowances are set to expire at month’s end. The organization is asking that they be extended through Dec. 15.

Local Organizations and COVID-19: The Glass House

For today’s Q&A with a local business or organization, we talked to Greg Sages, executive director of The Glass House, which has its Visitors Center on Elm Street. In past years, the 49-acre Ponus Ridge site laid out with Philip Johnson-designed buildings has opened May 1, and this year the organization won approval from the Planning & Zoning Commission to open April 16. With the restrictions in place due to coronavirus disease, The Glass House has been unable to open and, like other qualified organizations and businesses, is looking toward Gov. Ned Lamont’s planned May 20 date. Here’s our exchange. New Canaanite: How are you operating now and what is your plan?