P&Z Commissioners on Demolition of John Knapp House, c 1760: Loss of Greenwich History vs ‘Not so Pretty’

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 9.08.00 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 8.56.30 PM

The application from the Kaali-Nagy Company and the ‘Sherer Family Ltd Partnership’ to demolish two existing dwellings at 5 Brynwood Ln, including the 250-year-old John Knapp House was discussed at Tuesday’s P&Z meeting.

The applicants were represented by attorney Tom Heagney, who, in his comments focused strictly on today’s regulations. He said the proposed 7 bedroom house met setback regulations, adding, “We are only 40 ft high, whereas 47.5 ft are permitted. We are 2-1/2 stories,whereas 3-1/2 stories are permitted.”

The 2.841 acre property is just off Round Hill Rd, south of the Merritt Parkway.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 8.56.30 PMThe applicants plan to demolish the historic John Knapp House which dates back to  1760, landmark status notwithstanding.

The application also seeks to remove 39 trees in order to make way for the new 11,000 sq ft house.

The 4,953 sq ft historic John Knapp House features eight bedrooms and five-1/2 baths. The second building the applicants seek to demolish is a wood frame detached garage built in 1930 and is 2,180 sq ft.

Most of the discussion between Heagney and the P&Z revolved around runoff, drainage and storm water drainage exemptions.

Rob Frangione of Frangione Engineering, who joined Heagney on behalf of the applicants, said the runoff reduction was met “de facto,” because, he explained, “hardscapes,” in particular, a driveway, would be removed, decreasing the overall amount of impervious surface.

Commissioner Margarita Alban expressed her disappointment.

“Here’s an opportunity to improve what goes into your ground water,” Mrs. Alban said, dismayed that because of a reduction in impervious surface, the plan is not required to improve groundwater quality.

“I am almost as saddened by that as I am by tearing down a 260-year-old house,” Mrs. Alban said.

Mr. Frangione repeated that the runoff reduction was met de facto because the proposal results in a decrease in impervious surface. “You have to remember there is an existing driveway here. That is where you get your hydrocarbons and pollutant loads.”

“Whatever you’ve been doing to ground water quality in 260 years, here’s an opportunity to improve it,” Alban suggested.

“I’m sure your clients have made up their minds, but if there is any way your clients can preserve some of the facade of that building. I just have to go on record and say it’s so sad that Greenwich loses its historic buildings in this manner.”

P&Z commissioner Margarita Alban 

Mr. Heagney replied by saying the historic house is unfortunately in the front yard setback. “We’re going to build a house that’s compliant with today’s zoning regulations,” the attorney said.

“I personally didn’t find the house very attractive,” commissioner Donald Heller interjected. “I don’t find it pretty at all. It’s a matter of taste,” he said of the 1760 John Knapp House.

At the end of the discussion, the application was left open.

Related Story:

What’s Next for the Wrecking Ball in Greenwich? The John Knapp House c. 1760


Email news tips to Greenwich Free Press editor [email protected]
Like us on Facebook


Subscribe to the daily Greenwich Free Press newsletter.