Editorial: P&Z Commissioner Dick Ward Should Recuse Himself from Glass House-Related Matters

Planning & Zoning Commissioner Dick Ward’s continued participation in hearings regarding the Philip Johnson Glass House is unseemly, unhelpful and poses a legal risk to the town. He should recuse himself from related votes and discussions in the future. A neighbor of the Glass House who has faced criticism in the past for refusing to recuse himself when the organization has applied to amend its zoning permit, Ward during P&Z’s July 30 meeting once again spoke out against an application made on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation site. 

He did so unreasonably, unnecessarily and inconsistently with his own past practice as a commissioner. Ward’s Winfield Lane house sits a five-minute walk or two-minute drive from the Glass House property on Ponus Ridge, according to Google Maps. In the past, he has pushed back on the recommendation to recuse himself from Glass House hearings by saying that he doesn’t discuss the organization’s application with others who live in the neighborhood, and that he lives beyond the legally required 100-foot “notification area” for land use applicants.

Glass House Seeks Permission To Modify Hours, Notification Requirements, Parking

A Ponus Ridge historic site and architectural tourist attraction is seeking modest changes to its operating permit, according to papers filed with the town. The Philip Johnson Glass House is requesting permission to increase its hours of operation and to change when town approval is required for certain events, according to an application to modify an existing Special Permit, filed June 26 with Planning & Zoning. The current Special Permit authorizes the use of National Trust for Historic Preservation site as a “limited public access museum,” according to the application. The 49-acre site, which includes 14 buildings designed by the famed architect, opened to the public in 2007. 

An application, filed by attorney Ted O’Hanlan of Robinson + Cole, seeks to extend the public tour season by two weeks at both the beginning and end—meaning it would begin April 16 and end Dec. 15.