Byram residents are fed up with the accumulation of zoning enforcement violations at 21 North Water Street, which for many years was a bank branch with a drive through kiosk.
According to Al Shehadi, who chairs the land use committee for the Byram Neighborhood Association, the zoning enforcement officer has visited the property multiple times over the past 10 months and issued notices of violation to the owners.
Today it appears that multiple companies are using the property to park trucks and store items in sheds and temporary structures. The parking lot features an overflowing dumpster, a barbecue grill, stacks of firewood, pool supplies, and debris stacked high enough to be seen over neighboring fences.
On Feb 12, 2021 the ZEO issued a first notice of violation to the owners.
On March 19, 2021 he issued a second notice to the owners.
On May 26 the ZEO issued a Cease and Desist order.
Currently the .33 Acre property, which is in the LBR-2 (Local Business Retail), features a freestanding building that dates back to 1980 and the drive-thru kiosk.
Per the Municipal Code, a goal of the LBR Zone is, ‘to protect and encourage neighborhood-oriented retail development. These zones provide central but limited concentration of complementary retail goods and personal services in convenient locations to meet the frequent recurring needs of nearby residents.”
The BNA, who have ramped up their efforts to protect their neighborhood, have attended Planning & Zoning hearings to testify on applications, most recently on a proposal for a self-storage facility in the former Hasco Factory on South Water Street. They toured blighted properties with the First Selectman and pushed for the recently approved bight ordinance. They have requested pedestrian safety measures in response to an increased in speeding cars through their residential streets and have even sent representatives to attend zoning hearings over the river in Port Chester where Main Street is being redeveloped with multi-story apartment buildings.
“We been getting good press about new developments and how we’re trying to protect this end of the town,” Shehadi said. “But we’ve been wrestling on zoning enforcement. If you don’t have enforcement you don’t have zoning.”
Shehadi said neighbors are growing increasingly frustrated over the situation at 21 North Water Street.
“We have now had trucks, construction equipment, and even accessory structures built in the back for a year and a half,” he said. “The tenant is supposedly a pool maintenance company, but we see at least three different company logos on the trucks, including the pool company, a landscape company and a tree company.”
“And there are sheds and tented areas,” Shehadi added. “It’s semi industrial.”
Shehadi said the normal course of enforcement had run out, and that the next step was for the town to refer the situation to the State Attorney office.
During a recent discussion of a possible short-term rental reg, town P&Z director Katie DeLuca brought up the challenge of enforcing regulations.
“I think it’s severely understaffed based on the level of service people would like to see,” she said. “They have to triage constantly.”
Currently there are 2.5 staff doing enforcement inspections in Greenwich where there are 24,000 dwelling units and 63,000 inhabitants.
Ms DeLuca said her budget proposal included a request for an additional full time and additional part time enforcement officer.
An email to the ZEO Jodi Couture and director of Planning & Zoning Ms DeLucarequesting comment on 21 North Water Street was not returned, but First Selectman Fred Camillo said the town was working with the landlord to get the situation resolved.