Valley Road Homeowners Seek Variances for Barn, Pool Pavilion


Open air pavilion schematic.

The owners of a Valley Road home in the two-acre zone are seeking permission from the town to install a barn and open-air pool pavilion within the side yard setback.

Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, the minimum side yard setback for accessory structures in the two-acre zone is 35 feet (see page 60). 

879 Valley Road. Assessor photo

The owners of the 3.73-acre parcel at 879 Valley Road are seeking two variances from the Regulations from the Zoning Board of Appeals—the barn would be located 12 feet from the property line, the pergola 29 feet, according to an application for the variances.

In a statement of hardship that forms part of their application, owners Robert and Ashley McNeal note that theirs is a rear-lot at the end of a shared private drive shared by two other homeowners.

“The property is 3.73 acres, with approximately 2.5 of the 3.73 acres defined as either conservation area, wetlands, easement, and access area,” they said in the statement. “The shape of the lot is narrow in nature and generally characterized as irregular and non-conforming.”

The ZBA is scheduled to take up the application at its regular meeting  at 7 p.m. Monday. 

One direct neighbor, Jeffery Wyble of 881 Valley Road, submitted a letter of support for the application “to incorporate a small barn and pool pavilion on their property which will be located near the property boundary line of our two properties.”

“Rob McNeal explained his family’s wishes and plans for these structures, which was much appreciated,” Wyble said in his letter to the town planner. “I fully support these plans and have no concern that these structures will impact the use and enjoyment of our own property. I have noticed other homes in the area where similar structures were recently built and believe the McNeal plans, while similar, are much more modest in comparison.”

In her memo to the ZBA, Town Planner Sarah Carey underscored that “[w]hile the lot is a legal and conforming lot approved by the P&Z Commission, about half of the land on the property is encumbered by a conservation easement required in the 1999 Subdivision approval.

“All lots in the two-acre zone must fit a circle with a diameter of 225 feet to meet the zone’s width requirement,” Carey continued. “While this lot meets the width requirement, the 1999 Subdivision map clearly shows that about half of the required circle goes over the Silvermine River and into the conservation easement. As a result, the building envelope is significantly narrower than most two acre lots. All drainage and sewage disposal systems must also be located in this building envelope due to the conservation easement. The applicant is claiming the hardship of having a narrow lot and a significant amount of unbuildable land. The Board must consider whether this constitutes a valid hardship since the lot was created legally. If the Board considers this a valid hardship, they must then determine whether a large storage shed and a pool cabana constitute reasonable uses of the property.”

The McNeals noted in their application that the proposed structures have been reduced in size following pre-application talks with Carey.

“Preliminary concessions were made to the plans and structures, and adjustments are reflected in the proposed and updated survey,” they said. “The proposed barn and pavilion have been designed to complement the existing residence and will provide functional and aesthetic enhancements to the overall property.”

The property, which includes a 2001-built home, was purchased for $1,925,000 in 2018, tax records show.

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