Town officials recently received notice of a lawsuit following the Planning & Zoning Commission’s approval in September of a North Wilton Road homeowner’s plan to construct an attached four-bay garage.
P&Z’s conditioned approval of the plan was “illegal, unlawful, arbitrary and in abuse of the powers vested in” the Commission under state law, according to a complaint written on behalf of a neighbor plaintiff by attorney Joel Green of Bridgeport-based Law Offices of Green and Gross, P.C.
“The Defendant Commission ignored and acted in a manner that is inconsistent with and violates the procedural and substantive requirements and provisions of the Zoning Regulations, the Connecticut General Statutes and the common law of the State of Connecticut,” Green said in a complaint received Oct. 22 by the Town Clerk’s office.
It wasn’t clear whether the lawsuit yet has been formally filed in state Superior Court. The lawsuit cannot be found through an online search of Connecticut Judicial Branch records.
Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, a “large attached garage”—such as one with space for more than five vehicles—is allowed with a Special Permit from P&Z (see page 51). Also under the regulations, Special Permits must be obtained to excavate or grade more than 1,000 cubic yards of earth or disturb an area of soil of more than 10,000 square feet (page 137).
The new garage planned for 49 North Wilton Road, located near the intersection of Smith Ridge Road, is to be about 26 feet high and connected to the main house by a hallway, resulting in 3,358 square feet of additional coverage, according to the homeowner’s application. It would be used for storage only and set back from the street where it would be screened from neighbors, according to the application.
P&Z took up the proposed garage about two months ago.
At its Aug. 31 meeting, North Wilton Road neighbor Peter Mazza identified himself as a professional engineer with 50-plus years in construction. He voiced his opposition to the application, saying the property owners would stack up to 24 cars in the proposed new garage by placing two 3-car stacks, side-by-side, in each of the four bays.
“These people have already stacked cars in their three-car garage,” Mazza said at the August P&Z meeting, held via videoconference. “So let’s be perfectly frank here. This is not a question about people storing furniture. This is about moving what would be normally a commercial car collection into a residential neighborhood with the potential of renting to other people or not renting it to other people. It really doesn’t matter. The point is we will never know what is going on over there.”
Another neighbor, an adjacent property owner on Laurel Road, also voiced opposition at the public hearing.
A motion to deny the application did not receive a second at that meeting, and the following month P&Z voted 6-3 to approve it, on several conditions. They included that no lifts would be permitted in the garage, that it would not be rented out or otherwise used for commercial purposes and that it would be more heavily screened with landscaping than originally proposed.
According to the complaint, Green is seeking to void P&Z’s approval and award the plaintiff legal costs and “such other and further relief as the Court may determine.”
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