Neighbors Lament Proposal to Raze Barton House

Proposed Medical Offices
Proposed Medical Offices
NEW MILFORD — Barton House, next to the CVS Pharmacy on East Street, is a historic home and one-time nursery school that neighbors are reluctant to see torn down and replaced with medical of­fices.

The expected traffic in­crease — at least 500 more car trips a day — makes the neighbors cringe. But they are more disheartened about los­ing another piece of the vil­lage character. “This is a disaster in the making,” Robert Burkhart, a Whittlesey Avenue resident and president of the Trust for Historic Preservation, said during a Zoning Commission hearing.

Fellow Whittlesey Avenue resident Frank Schwartz is also upset at the idea of raz­ing the house on the 3.5 acre property Ray and Rachel Bar­ton sold in January 2006 for $800,000. He fears the ad­ditional traffic, and possible widening of the road to ac­commodate more cars, will pose an “unconscionable” risk to the neighborhood.

“Crossing (the street) now is a really risky situation,” Schwartz said, noting traffic often doesn’t stop at the pedestrian walkway just before CVS driveway. Commission chairman El­eanor Florio agreed traffic is a real concern. The commission voted to extend the hearing through July 29 before making a de­cision.

Arthur Howland Associates owner Paul Szymanki is repre­senting the developer, 34 East Street LLC. Szymanski was not present at the hearing, but he previously said the proposal, which would have 60 park­ing spaces, will not worsen traffic.

He said both the building design and landscaping plans are meant to buffer nearby wetlands and other proper­ties. He noted in prior meetings that efforts will be made to keep the mature trees on the property, and the sidewalks in front will be rebuilt and up- ‘ graded to reinforced concrete. The road would be widened 3 feet, with a bypass lane to assist with traffic.

The Housatonic Valley As­sociation filed written objec­tions to the project, because it does not want to lose a his­toric property and does not believe the proposal is suit­able for the ambience of the downtown village. HVA officials also offered objections to storm drain­age, traffic and the effect on existing trees. Burkhart emphasized the commission needs to be very careful in its deliberations. “What you do will change the town forever,” he said.

Nanci Hutson – News Times

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