Updated Tuesday, Jan. 12, 11:14pm: The P&Z commissioners voted unanimously in favor of Audi’s final site plan and special permit application with several whereas clauses, in particular that Audi car carriers stop offloading cars on West Putnam Ave.
Original article Tuesday, Jan 12, 11:02pm: Attorney Thomas Heagney presented to the Planning & Zoning Commission Audi’s proposal for a final site plan and special permit to move the historic John Addington House at 181 West Putnam Ave.
The building was the first post office in Greenwich and was built as a home on West Putnam Avenue around 1725 by the Bullis family. According to the Historical Society website, it later became the house of John Addington, the town’s first postmaster.
Audi seeks to move the house from its current location on the Audi dealership lot, to a spot closer to West Putnam Ave, and construct a new 1,560 sq ft car detailing building at the rear of the property.
In the process, Audi would reconfigure their parking lot to add 13 additional spots, and dedicate three parking spots to the Addington House.
Mr. Heagney said the new automotive detailing building would be quiet, as all work, including washing cars, will be done by hand.
He said that the historic house had been occupied by a police officer when Malcolm Pray sold the dealership to Audi, and that a bathroom had been added on to the building in the 1980s. The police officer lived in the house until the early 2000’s. The building has been empty since then.
Moving the building would involve the services of an experienced house moving company. Mr. Heagney said the company has expertise in moving historic structures. In particular, a business that specializes in moving buildings with masonry chimneys such as the inside the Addington House.
The plan includes the addition of a 4 ft wrought iron fence in front of the Addington house, anchored by stone columns.
Also, the bathroom added in the 1980s would be removed, and subsequently, the house will not have heat, air conditioning, or plumbing – just as in 1725 – and would be open to the public for educational purposes during Audi’s hours of operation.
Mr. Heagney said anyone discovering the building locked would be able to go to the Audi office and ask for it to be unlocked. He said the goal of the project is to make the historic building more inviting. Also, he said, “There will be more signage indicating that it is open to the public.”
“We believe this is a significant improvement and gets rid of a building that sits on the property line,” Mr. Heagney said of the existing car wash building that would be demolished.
Also, he said, “The old body shop on 213 west Putnam ave was demolished and gives us the opportunity to more prominently display the John Addington house.” (Defelice and Daughter Auto Body operated at 213 West Putnam, and was sold to Mercedes.)
Mr. Heagney said that the Historic District Commission had requested the house be improved. Specifically they requested the roof be replaced and windows reglazed, which has been done.
Commisioner Nancy Ramer was concerned that the applicant already received “bonuses” in exchange for the Historic Overlay for keeping the historic house in tact. Specifically, she said the applicant already was given “bonuses” for a parking deck and an enlargement of the sales floor.
“I think it’s a huge improvement, but what I have trouble with is additional bonuses, in addition to the ones which were given already. The new building does not comply with the rear and side setback requirement,” she said.
There was also discussion about neighbors, who have appeared before P&Z in the past.
Commissioner Alban said, “Those Edgewood neighbors have put up with a lot. I don’t want anything that affects them in a negative way. The neighbors’ concerns were noise, lights, and car carriers unloading in the street,” Mrs. Alban said. “We have to make sure we protect the neighbors.”
Mrs. Alban said she was very disappointed that after receiving promises that car carriers would unload on Audi property rather than in an active lane of traffic on Putnam Ave, she had witnessed the practice continue herself.
“I’m still seeing Audi unloading vehicles on the Post Road,” she said.
P&Z director Katie DeLuca said she had seen an Audi car carrier unloading cars from Putnam Ave the very day of Tuesday’s meeting. “That was one of the conditions of the approval,” she reminded Mr. Heagney. “It’s up to the management of the dealership that they insist that there is coordination, and that they park the carriers on their property.”
Mrs. DeLuca also reminded Mr. Heagney that the Addington House must be moved delicately. Otherwise, she warned, Audi will lose their zoning rights. She requested the applicant submit a detailed plan in writing from the house moving company, and have the plan reviewed by the Historic District Commission and Bill Marr, the town building official.
Audi Wins Rematch at P&Z in Overtime Feb 25, 2015