Harbor House Inn Conversion to Condos Gets Green Light from P&Z

On Tuesday the Greenwich Town Planning and Zoning Commission again considered a proposal to convert Harbor House Inn in Old Greenwich to condominiums. Last month the commission left the decision open despite the developer having offered some concessions in response to neighbors concerns about rooftop parties, loss of privacy from installation of multiple balconies, flooding and traffic.

On Tuesday, Attorney John Tesei introduced one of the principles, Mr. Russo, who addressed the commission with an opening statement.

Chris Franco, another principal of the project, said that a main goal of the project was historical preservation. He said that after hearing that the inn was to be sold to a developer for demolition, he stepped in to purchase it because he was alarmed at losing a historical property.

He considered the 120-year-old structure to be a landmark in Old Greenwich. His mission, in purchasing Harbor House, was to preserve the building and to make it financially viable and positive for the community.

The neighbors said they were concerned about excess traffic and lack of privacy for the surrounding homes. They also said they feared their property values would decrease.

Mr. Franco assured the commission that this structure, on the contrary, would be an asset to the community. He said modifications to the plan had been made, starting with the balconies. He described the design of the windows as exact replicas of the original windows, and assured the commission and the residents that the roof would be strictly a widow’s walk with no lights or parties.

Mr. Franco said the roof would provide a spot for residents to observe the view, and that the number of people on the roof at one time would be limited to ten. He said that restriction would be spelled out in the condo bylaws.

An issue came up regarding the size of the driveway leading towards the parking spaces off Shore Road, and the architect agreed to reduce the size. When the commission also had a question regarding the façade easement, the architect assured the commission that the historical restoration would be preserved on all four facades of the building.

Chad Fauser, one of the neighbors, complained that he and the other residents did not have enough time to study the revisions to the plan. He and the others are still concerned about the large parking structures and the “massive balconies”.

Mr. Fauser said he believes that the traffic caused by condominiums would decrease property values, and that after the renovation the condominiums would bear  little resemblance to the original, charming Harbor House Inn.

To date, Mr. Fauser has acquired a petition with 150+ signatures that he plans to submit to the commission. He spoke on behalf of the neighbors in his opposition to the proposal, arguing that it would be detrimental to the community.

The commission concluded that there are deep concerns by the neighborhood regarding this conversion. The people in favor were Richard Maitland, Peter Levy, Margarita Alban, and Andy Fox. Nancy Ramer voted against the application.

See also: Further Developments on Greenwich’s Harbor House Inn’s Future as 6-Unit Condo Building


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