Historic commission objects to new AROD application
With the submission of a new application by the developer for 183 Ridgefield Road, the Historic District and Historic Property Commission has decided it will voice its objection to Ridgefield Road being included in any age-restricted overlay district (AROD) in the form of a letter.
This will not be the commission’s first letter concerning the matter, chair Allison Sanders said at the commission’s Sept. 5 meeting. The commission previously wrote one to the Planning and Zoning Commission following the first AROD application.
The purpose of the commission’s Sept. 5 discussion was to “decide whether or not the commission should issue another statement,” said Sanders, “since the application has come back and is somewhat modified.”
Among the modifications are an increase in minimal acreage and decreases in maximum development density, maximum allowability coverage and maximum site coverage, said Sanders.
The new application also states that “there would be a minimum of 100 feet of building setback along a scenic road,” said Sanders.
“My personal view is that this is still objectionable,” she said.
“The scale is wrong; the density is wrong; the traffic issues are wrong; the water flow and conservation aspects are wrong — and it’s just generally still not appropriate use of Ridgefield Road as a scenic road.”
Historic district commissioners Matthew Kehoe, Gil Weatherly and Lori Fusco agreed.
Weatherly said the scope “overreaches” and Fusco said the modifications aren’t “enough.”
Sanders noted that the commission’s focus is on Ridgefield Road.
“I redrafted our [previous] statement,” she said, “which brings it into the current application, and specifically mentions that we’re particularly concerned about the area between Belden Hill Road and Drum Hill Road.”
Sanders said that the new application “only specifies that the AROD would go as far as Drum Hill Road and not all the way up Ridgefield Road.”
While it’s “an improvement,” said Sanders, it’s “still not sufficient” and will be referenced in the commission’s letter.
Tina Duncan, a resident who once served as president of the New Canaan Historical Society, posed the question of, “What’s stopping somebody from taking down several antique houses to create a bigger property?”
“I just keep hearing people focus on this one property,” said Duncan. “That [Schlichting] house is gone and it’s a terrible loss, but ... I just feel like it makes other houses vulnerable.”
Sanders said it does, and the demolition of antique homes in order to combine parcels and create larger properties is “a fear.”
“By looking at land maps, you can see where there are possible parcels that can be put together,” she said. “You can see the lands that are larger than two acres, so yeah, there’s a concern about that.”
Another member of the public suggested the commission “make the language even stronger about Ridgefield Road” in its letter. He suggested, for example, using “strongly urge” instead of “urge.”
“The circumstances of this particular application is that it’s generated by a developer. This isn’t the AROD the Planning and Zoning Commission went through a series of meetings to create — it’s generated by the very man who wants to build on Ridgefield Road,” he said.
“We’re trying to make sure that the road is set to really fight against Ridgefield Road showing up in any AROD regulation.”
Sanders agreed to strengthen the language and said the letter will be made available with the commission’s meeting minutes.