A homeowner in eastern New Canaan is seeking permission to operate a boutique gym as a business on the lower level of the house.
Classes at “The Remix” at 57 Rilling Ridge—a 6,200-square-foot home on two acres, tax records show—are capped at four clients per session, according to an application filed with the Planning & Zoning Commission on behalf of the property owner by attorney David Rucci of New Canaan-based Lampert, Toohey & Rucci LLC.
Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, a Special Permit is required from P&Z in order to operate a “Major Home” business (see page 51 here). The applicant is also seeking site plan approval. P&Z is expected to take up the application at its May 23 meeting.
It isn’t clear from the application whether the gym already has been operating without a permit.
“The gym space is approximately 3,000 square feet and consists of a workout area, gym equipment and a bathroom,” the application said. “The Remix does have multiple workout rooms, however each room is designed for a specific class/workout routine. Multiple classes in multiple rooms are never going on at the same time. The gym has a dedicated separate entrance and can be accessed from the existing garage.”
The gym “is a boutique and unique place,” according to the application. Its “very select clients” are offered various time slots though there are “only 2 to 3 classes per day with a cap of 4 clients per session,” it said.
“The Applicant teaches the majority of the classes but has been outsourcing the classes to various independent contractors,” Rucci said in the application.
Under the proposal, the driveway of the residence would be reconfigured “to clearly delineate 9 parking spaces for her clientele,” Rucci said in the application.
“The Clients are specifically advised that there is to be no parking on Rilling Ridge,” the application said. “The property is currently well screened from neighboring properties, but additional screening is proposed.”
The plans for the home business also meet all criteria for a Special Permit, the application said, for example:
- “The size and shape of the property is consistent with allowing for the proposed use. The house is set back from the property and there is ample parking on site. There are no proposed changes to the footprint of the home and all activity occurs inside the existing residence.”
- “The proposed boutique gym is located within the home. No classes are held outside so all noise is contained within the current residence. The driveway and parking areas are over _ feet from the street appropriately screened from neighboring properties.”
- “The original driveway access to the property will continue to be utilized by the Applicant. The class offerings are designed to be small and intimate. While capped at 4 people the average class size will be capped at 4 clients per class. Rilling Ridge is a cul-de-sac approximately 50’ in width that serves 10 homes. The Applicant property is the second home to the North thus any client access only travels to that point in the street. The times of the classes do not create any adverse effect on access or use of the public street.”
In 2017, an Oenoke Ridge resident came close to applying for a Special Permit for a health-and-wellness-related home business called “Orchards End” following disclosures that it already was up and running, though she ultimately decided against it.
Hello, the history of her online presence shows that she has been operating for over a year without a permit, with longer days and bigger classes.
Over many years, one of the core tenets of New Canaan’s Planning & Zoning efforts has been to delineate the business district from residential areas. It would seem that history shows that this has been a wise plan. With very few exceptions, businesses are located in the downtown business district.
Knowing that, and knowing about New Canaan’s parking requirements, one item really stands out in this article: the applicant seeks 9 parking spaces for clients. There are very few downtown businesses that can boast 9 private parking spaces – let alone a business that plans to serve no more than 4 clients at a time. How does this make sense? The only logical answer is that this business plans on dramatic growth or is vastly underestimating the number of clients served at one time.
On this and any other ‘commercial business operated from a home residence’, CAUTION should rule the day. We have well thought P&Z regulations for a reason.
How about we support a woman having her own business? There are many businesses operating out of homes with clients coming and going in New Canaan. So why be in any way negative about this one? As a buisness owner in New Canaan I fully support another woman working hard, creating a legitimate business and doing so by overcoming obstacles while pushing forward. As a community let’s celebrate that type of spirit.
The Remix is a business which empowers women through wellness and strength training. Women have been working out at homes in groups for years and always will be. This is nothing mindblowing…the permit application is simply making it legitimate. Thank you
Why should she be allowed to flout the restrictions just because she’s a good instructor? Why did she not find a commercial space like every other fitness business in town? Why did she not apply for a permit in a residential area before starting up her 200-client (according to her website) business? This is not a handful a of friends doing yoga together in someone’s basement!
Sadly, the owner is perfectly within the regulations by opening this studio. She now needs to get the permits and can even go farther by opening a juice bar and or sell tee shirts and work out clothing at her gym studio. This is all perfectly legal based upon a change to the regulations in 2017.
In 2017, P&Z agreed to allow multiple principle uses in a residential zone as long as the owner gets the special permits. There are no limits to the number of uses one can now do in a residential zone which is essentially turning the residential zone into a mixed use zone. All of this was legalized in 2017. To now deny her those permits would result in spot zoning. The New Canaanite reported on this and included our editorial in 2017. We all want predictability when we buy our homes.
Its time to change the way the town operates and with the Town Charter up for revision, lets have P&Z elected as well as have term limits for all commissioned and elected officials.
Here’s a link from 2017. https://newcanaanite.com/letter-proposed-change-to-zoning-regulations-threatens-all-new-canaan-residential-neighborhoods-52316