Honey Hill Road application withdrawn
A controversial variance application that sought setback relief in order to reassemble and preserve the18th-Century Jackson-Nealy House on an undersized Honey Hill Road parcel was withdrawn ahead of the close of its public hearing on June 20.
The three-month-long hearing was last continued May 17, because the Zoning Board of Appeals needed legal advice as to whether or not it has the jurisdiction to grant variances on parcels that aren’t designated as building lots.
Town counsel’s legal opinion was no, they do not have the jurisdiction, but that isn’t why Peter Gaboriault and Kevin Quinlan withdrew their application.
They withdrew it because associate town counsel Patricia Sullivan didn’t submit her memorandum until June 20 — the deadline for the close of the hearing.
“Having just received … Sullivan’s memorandum to the board earlier today, I do not have sufficient time to prepare a response to same in advance of this evening’s public hearing,” a letter from Casey Healy, attorney for the applicants, said.
“In light of the fact that the statutory deadline for the board to close the public hearing cannot be extended further, I hereby withdraw the above-referenced application. I will refile the application on or before the June 27 filing deadline,” Healy’s letter said.
Healy’s client, Gaboriault, told The Bulletin he is “one unhappy taxpayer” right now.
“We’ve been trying to get town counsel to give us an opinion about that issue for months, and at the last public hearing, the [ZBA] chairman asked her for an opinion — that was a month ago,” Gaboriault said.
“So she waited an entire month and gave it to us at 12 o’clock on the day of the hearing, and my lawyer wasn’t able to respond so I had no choice but to withdraw,” he said.
Gaboriault suspects Sullivan could have responded sooner. “I think she’s obligated to respond as soon as possible so we have the opportunity to respond to her,” he said.
“She’s guaranteeing failure of the application,” he argued.
The Bulletin attempted to contact Sullivan for comment but did not hear from her by press time.
“In order to grant variances of building setbacks, the threshold question, as to whether a building lot exists, must be answered in the affirmative,” Sullivan said in her memorandum. “There is no evidence in the record that a compliant lot exists.”
In other words, an applicant can’t pursue zoning relief for a building lot without first demonstrating that said building lot exists.
Sullivan wrote that recorded evidence shows the following.
- The 0.261-acre parcel was carved … from a larger parcel, for the purpose of providing parking to property located across the street.
- The parcel is undersized and does not conform with the zoning regulations, either now or at the time of division.
- No zoning certificate of compliance has been issued for the property, nor has one been requested.
- The parcel does not predate the adoption of zoning regulations nor is it part of an approved subdivision.
“Since the applicant is requesting variances of building setback regulations, he must present evidence to the ZBA that the parcel is a building lot,” Sullivan’s memorandum said.
Gaboriault, however, told The Bulletin on May 17 that he disagreed with that, and despite having to withdraw his original application, he intends to keep going with his effort to preserve the historic home.
“It’s my plan to refile after I can respond to her last-minute memo,” Gaboriault said.
Over the course of the three-month hearing, numerous Wilton community members attended Zoning Board of Appeals meetings to express both favorable and opposing views of the application.
Supporters wanted to save a piece of history from demolition, while critics argued that placing a structure so close to property lines would harm the character of the Honey Hill neighborhood. (See our story online: http://bit.ly/1Ox6NxT.)
In April, the historic home was dismantled and removed from its original 211 Hurlbutt Street site. Gaboriault didn’t have his variance yet, but the property owners needed it gone and so it was taken down and stored.
Gaboriault’s plan was to salvage and reuse the house’s antique windows and relocate its original timber frame to Honey Hill Road.