Letter to the Editor: Greenwich ZBA Vote to Deny GRS Application, Don’t Blame the Neighbors.

Letter to the editor submitted to Greenwich Free Press on July 13, 2014 by Mr. John Timm of 78 Orchard St, Cos Cob

There have been comments made that in some way the Cos Cob neighbors who have expressed concerns about the construction of the Greenwich Reform Synagogue (GRS) in their neighborhood were instrumental in the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) denying the GRS application for special exception.

The failure to gain the required four votes by the ZBA for the special exception approval lies in the Greenwich Reform Synagogue’s application and their representatives presentation of failing to convince the ZBA that they met the Building Zone Regulations Section 6-19, 6-20 and 6-94, which the ZBA is bound to apply to any request for special exception.

Because GRS and their representatives failed to convince the ZBA that their application met the regulations, they filed a lawsuit against the Town of Greenwich and its citizens.

Furthermore, regarding Sandy Soule’s “Laws and regulations should govern this land-use issue and guide the discussion, not rhetoric,” letter rebutting Sarah Darer Littman, “Didn’t the ZBA apply laws and regulations for land use when it denied the GRS application?”

The minutes of the June 11th ZBA meeting can be found online or as follows: 

APPEAL No. PLZE201301068
Appeal of Greenwich Reform Synagogue, 92 Orchard Street, Greenwich for special exception approval to permit the construction of a new Synagogue and associated site improvements on a lot located in the R-12 zone.
It was RESOLVED in a 2-2 vote that said appeal be denied on the following grounds.
After due consideration, the Board failed to find that the special exception standards as provided by Sections 6-19, 6-20 and 6-94 of the Building Zone Regulations had been met therefore the appeal was denied. Mr. Larson made a motion to continue the appeal in order to further review application materials and materials submitted at hearing. Messrs.’ Ramcharandas, Rogozinski, Kirkpatrick and Sullivan voted against. Having failed to receive 4 affirmative votes the motion does not carry.
Mr. Rogozinski made a motion to deny the special exception appeal which was seconded by Mr. Sullivan.
Messrs.’Rogozinski and Sullivan voted in favor of the motion while Mr. Ramcharandas and Ms. Kirkpatrick voted against, Mr. Larson abstained. Having failed to receive 4 affirmative votes the motion does not carry.
Mr. Ramcharandas made a motion to approve the special exception appeal which was seconded by Ms. Kirkpatrick. Mr. Ramcharandas and Ms. Kirkpatrick voted in favor of the motion while Messrs.’ Rogozinski and Sullivan voted against, Mr. Larson abstained. Having failed to receive 4 affirmative votes the motion does not carry and the appeal is therefore denied.

The Greenwich Building Zone Regulations can be found  online, or as follows:

Sec. 6-19. PLANNING AND ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS; POWERS AND DUTIES.
(a) The Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals, referred to in this Article as the Board of Appeals, shall have the following powers and duties as authorized by the General Statutes and Special Acts as amended:
(1) Adopt such rules and regulations as may be deemed necessary to carry out this Article.
(2) Hear and decide appeals where it is alleged that there is error in any order or decision made by the Zoning Enforcement Officer. (1/15/90)
(3) Authorize upon appeal in specific cases variances from the terms of this Article where by reason of exceptional shape, size, or topography of the lot or other exceptional situation or condition of the building or land, practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship would result to the owners of the property from a strict enforcement of this Article. Before any variance is granted, the Board must make a written finding in its minutes as part of the record in the case:
A) That special circumstances, described in detail, attach to the property which do not generally apply to other property in the neighborhood and constitute the hardship;

B) That relief can be granted without detriment to the public welfare or impairment to the integrity of these regulations.
(4) Decide requests for special exceptions in the following cases
A) For certain specified uses in residential zones in accordance with Division 9, Subdivision 1, for uses enumerated in Sec 6-100 Use Group 5; and wherever special exception is authorized in these regulations;
B) For the establishment of horticultural and wildlife reservations and natural park areas acquired or controlled by a Connecticut non-profit corporation or organization provided that such reservation or area is open to the public, subject to reasonable regulation, and the Board of Appeals finds that the establishment of such reservation or area is in the interest of the Town for educational, scientific and recreational reasons, having in mind the size, character and location of such premises and availability of similar uses in the vicinity. (6/27/79)

(5) To hear variance requests involving proposed lots in subdivisions that have received preliminary approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission. (6/27/79
Sec. 6-20. BOARD OF APPEALS; PROCEDURES
(a) Every application for variance from the use regulations as distinguished from the height and area regulations, shall on receipt thereof by the Zoning Enforcement Officer, be transmitted to
the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals, and at or before Public Hearing held by the Board of Appeal on any such application, the Planning and Zoning Commission may make a report thereon. (5/1/2013)
(b) Every application for any use in accordance with Section 6-100 Use Group 5, and whenever special exception is applied for, shall on receipt thereof by the Zoning Enforcement Officer, be transmitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals, and at or before public hearing held by the Board of Appeals on any such application, the Planning and Zoning Commission may make a report there on.  (7/31/80, 5/1/2013)
(c) All determinations of the Board of Appeals shall be made after public notice and hearing and subject to appropriate conditions and safeguards in accordance with the public interest and the comprehensive plan set forth in this Article, and in harmony with the purpose and intent expressed in Section 6-1. The Board shall grant all applications for special exceptions, subject to the aforesaid conditions and safeguards, provided that the particular requirement specified in this Article are met, and provided further that the Board shall find in each case that the proposed building or structures or proposed use of land:

(1) Be in accordance with the Plan of Conservation and Development. (2/07/2001)
(2) Will not create a traffic hazard or congestion due to type or amount of vehicles required or hamper the Town pattern of highway circulation.
(3) Will not create a physical hazard due to fire, explosion, or any other similar cause.
(4) Will not create or aggravate a nuisance or result in the dissemination of odors, smoke, dust, gas, fumes, or other atmospheric pollutant, noise, light, heat, glare, vibration or

radiation, electro-magnetic or other interference with radio or television reception beyond the boundaries of the lot on which the use is located.
(5) Will not discharge harmful waste material on or under land or into a sewer or drain.
(6) Will not be detrimental to the neighborhood or its residents or alter the neighborhood’s essential characteristics.
(7) That a proposed business or industry is light in nature having consideration for the size and arrangement of the plant, the number and skills of the employees, the industrial process employed, and plans for future expansion. No business or industry shall be considered light in nature if the Board of Appeals finds by reason of its being so large in size it will interfere with the diversification and balance of industry and business within the Town, having consideration for the probable effect of failure or removal of such
industry or business on the economic welfare of the Town.
(d) A special exception granted for a particular use shall not constitute a special exception for any other use either within or without the use group in which the said particular use is found. (1/12/2000)
(e) Any material intensification of the use allowed by a special exception shall constitute a change of use requiring a new application for a special exception to be submitted to the Board of Appeals. (1/12/2000)

Division 9. Use Regulations

Sec. 6-94 PERMITTED USE BY SPECIAL EXCEPTION OR SPECIAL PERMIT AS INDICATED BELOW.

(a) The following uses shall be permitted in RA-4, RA-2, RA-1, R-20 and R-12 Zones when authorized by the Board of Appeals as special exceptions:
(1) Horticultural and wildlife reservations and natural park areas.
(2) Clubs, recreational areas and fall-out shelters not open to the general public and not operated for commercial profit, and community centers operated by civic associations.
(3) Commercial agricultural uses including commercial nurseries and greenhouses, livestock and poultry raising, dairy farming, and kennels, provided that any building or structure designed for such use including the storage of manure or soil fertilizer shall be
located not less than one hundred (100) feet from any street
or lot line, provided further that any poultry or livestock shall be kept in approved enclosures and shall not be allowed to roam at large, provided further that commercial slaughtering, fertilizer
manufacture or any commercial reduction of animal matter
shall not be permitted.
(4) Cemeteries, provided that no location shall be approved any part of which is less than five hundred (500) feet from a residence.
(5) Churches, educational institutions not operated for commercial profit.
(6) Public utility uses not including incidental service and storage yards.
(7) Radio and television stations and towers; satellite earth station towers except those transmitting or distributing microwaves which are subject to Sec. 6-140.1. (10/7/85)
(8) The keeping of more than six (6) horses (not including their young under the age of six (6) months) provided there shall be at least twenty thousand (20,000) sq. ft. of gross lot
area for each horse age six (6) months or older, except when consistent with the purpose of this Article a smaller area may be permitted by the Zoning Board of Appeals. Any facility for the care and raising of horses, including shelter, land area and fencing,
shall conform to reasonable conditions or limitations prescribed by the Board of Appeals.
(9) Repealed (5/31/81) (7/16/86)
(9) Construction and use of accessory structures involved in the operation of a public underground utility when located in or abutting the street right-of-way and not exceeding one (1) story or thirty-five (35) feet in height.
(10) Emergency youth shelter. (1/8/77)
(11) Museums (10/12/2010)
(b) The following uses shall be permitted in RA-4, RA-2, RA-1, R-20 and R-12 zones and R-7 zone (by the cross reference in Section 6-97 (b) (1) to RA-4 zones permitted uses) and R-6 zone (by the cross reference in Section 6-98 (b) (1) to R-7 zones permitted uses) whe authorized by the Planning and Zoning Commission by Special Permit issued pursuant to Sec. 6-17: (2/8/94)
(1) Hospitals; clinics; nursing homes; homes for the aged; sanitariums; convalescent homes, or other heath care facilities for the elderly; philanthropic or charitable institutions not of a penal or correctional nature nor for the care of insane or feeble-minded patients; provided that any building so permitted shall be located not less than one hundred (100) feet from any street or lot line unless the Commission finds in consideration of theparticular use and its specific location that a lesser distance will protect adjacent property owners from adverse impacts. (3/28/92)
(2) Group Living Facility for the Elderly; Special Requirements: (2/25/88)
(a) It is the intent of these regulations to prevent a concentration of facilities and uses which could alter a neighborhood’s essential character or contribute to the creation of an institutional atmosphere. No Group Living Facility shall be closer than 2000 feet to another such facility or residential institutional use unless, under Special Permit procedures, the Commission finds a lesser distance is compatible with stated goals and intent. (6/11/90)
(b) In residential zones a Group Living Facility may be located only in structures which were existing and listed with the Tax Assessor’s office as of January 1, 1988.
(c) In residential zones there shall be a minimum lot area of 1200 s.f. per person including staff in residence; in no case shall a facility house more than 12 residents plus live-in staff.
(d) There shall be a minimum gross floor area requirement of 400 s.f. per resident, including live-in staff.
(e) Each facility shall provide on-site parking as follows: One space per live-in staff member; enough additional parking to accommodate the passenger cars used by residents, but not less than one space for every three residents.
(f) In residential zones each facility shall have side yard setbacks equal to those of the next more restrictive zone unless the Commission finds that due to location or other circumstances the standard zone setback is sufficient to provide adequate light, air and privacy for residents of the proposed facility and residents in adjacent dwellings. In no case shall the minimum side yard setback be less than 10 feet. In business zones the standards of the R-12 zone shall be used for calculating the side yard setbacks.
(g) Each facility shall have adequate indoor and outdoor common space.
(h) In residential zones there shall be no exterior features to distinguish buildings, as viewed from the street, from other homes in the area. Any exterior changes proposed shall be subject to review by the A.R.C. as part of the Site Plan Review Procedure. The exterior of facilities and the site shall be maintained in good condition and appearance, in conformity with the neighborhood.
(i)Any property located on a septic system or served by well water shall be required to prove the efficiency and capacity of the septic system, and the yield and quality of well water, all in accordance with

standards of the Department of Health

(j) Each facility shall be accessible to some form of public or private transportation so that non-driving residents are not isolated from community activities and services.
(k) No Group Living Facility serving persons other than the elderly shall be permitted under this section. Any change of ownership of a Group Living Facility for the Elderly shall require a revised Special Permit.
(l) Each Group Living Facility for the Elderly shall be subject to all standards of Sec. 6-15 and 6-17 of the Building Zone Regulations, and the requirements of the zone in which the facility is located except where modified by the standards contained herein.
(m)Expansion of a Group Living Facility structure shall be subject to Site Plan Review. If the expansion increases the gross floor area by 25%, a revised Special Permit shall be required.
(n) No Certificate of Occupancy shall be issued until the Planning and Zoning Commission has determined that all requirements for establishing a Group Living Facility have been met, including the following:
(1) A designated Responsible Agent, which may be an owner-operator or other person or entity, shall have filed with the Board of Health the following standard agreements which are available in the Commission Office:
A. An agreement which specifies the right of the Board of Health and other Town Agencies having jurisdiction to inspect the facility annually or as necessary.
B. A statement of the obligation of the Responsible Agent to sign a
contract with each prospective resident before he or she takes
occupancy.
C. A copy of the proposed contract between the Responsible Agent and residents which incorporates, as a minimum, the standard agreement referred to in (1) above. The contract shall specify rights and responsibilities, services offered, and conditions for admission and termination of residency.
(2) The designed Responsible Agent shall file proof of incorporation in the State of Connecticut and a copy of the by-laws of the incorporated entity with the Board of Health.
(3) A Board of Directors which shall include representation from the facility’s residents and the community-at-large, and the Responsible Agent, shall have been designated. Said Board shall oversee the facility’s operation, help establish policies, and certify annually to the Board of Health that each resident of the Group Living Facility has signed the required contract with the Responsible Agent.
(3) Group Day Care Homes–Special Requirements: (10/2/89)
(a) It is the intent of these regulations to allow care and protection for young children in a home-like atmosphere by allowing an accessory use to a Resident-occupied single family home for operating under State of Connecticut licensing, a Group Day Care Home. It is also the intent of these regulations to prevent the intrusion of commercial uses in a residential zone, in accordance with the guidelines of the Town’s Land Use Plan, by establishing the use as accessory to resident occupied use; and to prevent a concentration of facilities and uses which could adversely impact a neighborhood’s character, property values or increase or contribute to the creation of an institutional, or more traffic intensive atmosphere; and to promote the health, safety and general welfare of the community.
(b) Each Group Day Care Home shall meet the following requirements:
(1) Compliance with all state licensing requirements for Group Day Care Homes;
(2) One (1) on-site parking space exclusively for residential use;
(3) Two (2) on-site parking spaces for non-resident staff members;
(4) No exterior features of the Group Day Care Home shall distinguish it from other single-family dwellings in the area;
(5) There shall be no more than two (2) non-resident employees on the premises at any one time;
(6) Use of the dwelling as a Group Day Care Home shall be subordinate and incident to the use of the dwelling as a single-family residence;
(7) No Group Day Care Home shall be located within two thousand (2,000) feet of another Group Day Care Home.
(8) Any Group Day Care Home serviced by a septic system and/or well shall prove the efficiency and capacity of the septic system, and the yield and quality of well water, all in accordance with standards of the Department of Health;
(9) The Group Day Care Home shall not operate more than twelve (12) hours during each twenty-four (24) hour period, and no overnight accommodations for children or staff shall be permitted.
(10) Application for Special Permit and Site Plan in accordance with Sections 6-13, 6-15 and 6-17 shall be required and standards of Sec. 6-15 and 6-17 shall be met. (10/2/89)
(4) Resident Medical Professional Office (2/8/94)
(a) The purpose of this amendment is to recognize that the office of a resident medical professional is not a low impact use that can blend harmoniously into all residential neighborhoods. This use involves high traffic generation and parking demand, delivery of specialized supplies and materials, and creation of wastes requiring unique handling and disposal. It has historically been allowed as an accessory use in residential neighborhoods to bring an essential service close to where people live but significant changes in medical practice make it necessary to be selective about the location of the use to protect neighborhoods from adverse impacts that detract from their residential character. The Special Permit allows the Commission to ensure compatibility of a resident medical professional office with a neighborhood and protection of the public’s health, safety, and welfare and the value of property.

(b) A Resident Medical Professional Office with not more than two (2) non-resident support personnel, such as a secretary, receptionist, aide or nurse provided that:
(1) Such use shall only be permitted on a lot in the RA-1 zone that is at least one and one-half times the minimum required lot size and on a lot in the R-20 zone or in the R-12 Zone that is at least twice the minimum required lot size and on a lot in the R-7 or R-6 zone that is at least two and one-half times the minimum required lot size;
(2) No such office shall occupy more than 700 square feet or 25% of the gross floor area in the premises, whichever is smaller;
(3) Parking shall be governed by Section 6-158 (as amended) but shall not be permitted in the front yard;
(4) There shall be screening in accordance with the schedule set forth in Section 6-180; and
(5) There shall be no other accessory use that might otherwise be permitted under any section of these Regulations.

John Timm
78 Orchard St
Cos Cob, Ct 06807

Comments are closed.