LETTER: On Church Sherwood, P&Z Has the Legal Right to Override 8-30g

Open letter to P&Z from Richard G. Schulze, Greenwich

Ladies and Gentlemen:

On 12 April you will be considering an application by Church Sherwood LLC to tear down seven historic buildings in the Town’s Fourth Ward to build a seven-story building with 192 units.  I urge P&Z to reject that application for the following reasons that you have the legal right and responsibility to decline.  Specifically:

  • The homes the developer proposes to demolish are in an Historic Area.  It is covered by the National Historic Preservation Act which says that preserving historic properties is in the public interest.  That’s why it enjoys federal protection and tax benefits.  The Connecticut Environmental Protection Act permits anyone to sue to prevent the “unreasonable destruction of historic structures”.  Section 8-30g does not override Federal and State statutes and the public interest.  Environmental issuesdo override zoning issues.
  • The application clearly does not fall within what is envisaged in the POCD.
  • Safety is another legal ground for P&Z to decline this application. 
    • The various lines of our sewage infrastructure are already overloaded.  While the developer will argue that the lines in that area of Town can accommodate another 192 units, P&Z has applications envisaging some 1,000 units, and many more can be anticipated.  It should reject all 8-30g applications until the Town can assess the combined impact of all those applications on our sewage lines.
    • During rush hours and office hours traffic is already extremely heavy, not only on Church St. and Sherwood Place, but particularly on East Putnam Ave.  Both streets are narrow, making it difficult at times for cars to get through when many cars are parked on them – as is usually the case.  With another 192 units, with potentially some 400 new residents, traffic will be significantly heavier.  Fire and Police ability to respond to emergencies will be significantly diminished and could be unable to get to the envisaged project. 
  • P&Z has the moral responsibility to maintain the general zoning in our Town.  When we moved to Greenwich, we chose not to move to Stamford or White Plains.  We did so because of the Town’s character.  If that changes, it’s like integrity – you never get it back.  From a financial perspective, people will be less interested in  moving here when it looks like downtown Stamford – with property values dropping and the Grand List shrinking.

The developers are using 8-30g to try to bypass P&Z.  The reasons above give P&Z the legal right to override 8-30g, so I believe you have no choice but to decline this application. That is my recommendation.

Many thanks in advance.

While the above are my personal views, they are shared by NEGA, the NorthEast Greenwich Association, representing some 1200 homes, of which I’m a Board member.