Zoning Decision Upheld

Proposed Condominiums
Proposed Condominiums
There were big smiles and a few claps of applause last week when it was announced that a Zoning Commission decision was sustained in Litchfield Su­perior Court.

Back in 2006, South Main Street residents Pat and Larry Tripp appealed a Zoning deci­sion that would have permit­ted George Morrison to build an addition to a house across the street from their home and develop four residential condo­miniums. In a decision reached Jan. 16, Judge Richard Marano dismissed the Tripp’s appeal.

“We’re terribly disappointed,” Mr. Tripp said Wednesday. “We think the Zoning Commission made a grievous error.” He and his wife believe the de­cision allowing the addition will damage the South Main Street area and other streets in the vil­lage center. Mr. Tripp said they are “mull­ing over” whether to appeal.

He said they would not have opposed four units in the ex­isting house and garage, that it was the addition that prompted the appeal. “It’s just not right for there,” he said.

Town Attorney Randy DiBella said the judge had inquired about the relationship the 26 South Main property had to the historical nature of the area. “The Land use commissions in New Milford did a thorough and in-depth analysis,” Mr. Di­Bella said, remarking that was born out by Judge Marano’s de­cision.

Mr. Morrison scaled down initial plans for six condo units on the property that currently houses a two-family home and historic barn. Zoners approved a zone change to Landmark District for the site and a special permit for an addi­tion to the house to create three units in the house with a fourth unit in the converted barn.

Zoning regulations would have allowed allow up to four units in the house, but not the three plus one in the barn.

In the plan Zoning approved, Mr. Morrison can construct a 2,800-square- foot multi-story addition to the 4,100-square-foot house and an upgrade to the barn. Supporters argued the barn is historically and architectur­ally important and the plans would protect that resource and expand the tax base by adding housing units. The changes were recommended by the Planning Commission and also the New Milford Trust for Historic Pres­ervation.

Opponents argued adding such a mammoth addition to the house would change the character of the neighborhood. They were also concerned about additional traffic on narrow Mid­dle Street, which runs along the south side and rear of the prop­erty. The Tripps argued Zoning failed to follow its regulations, allowed parking in setbacks, failed to find the proposed use in harmony with the neighbor­hood, failed to waive the traffic study and failed to determine landscaping and area left natural was 30 percent of the property.

Judge Marano said in his 17-page decision that there was “ad­equate” evidence on the record that zoners had considered the regulations and that the Tripps did not provide evidence the open and landscaped areas were less than 30 percent. He said the record shows the panel did not ignore parking reg­ulations regarding setbacks, and that the panel determined Mr. Morrison’s proposal “conforms to the requirements of the Zon­ing regulations” as well as “con­forms with the character of the Town Landmark District, and the Plan of Conservation and Devel­opment and shall not have any adverse effect on the value of the nearby properties.”

“The transcript indicates that the commission considered and discussed extensively, among other things, traffic, landscaping, the size of the addition, and con­formity with the neighborhood,” the judge wrote.

A letter from the New Mil­ford Trust for Historic Preserva­tion called the proposal “a very worthwhile historic rehabilita­tion project which will relate to and enhance the historic land­scape of the neighborhood.” The judge said a failure to for­mally waive a traffic study was not a fatal flaw since Landmark regulations don’t allow a panel to deny a site plan based on traffic.

By Lynda Wellman – The Spectrum

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