P&Z Watch: Removing a Historic Overlay; When “In Perpetuity” Means for All Time

During Tuesday’s P&Z meeting the commission reviewed a pre application to remove the Historic Overlay designation and remove a kitchen in a garage cottage on a historic property located at 731 Lake Avenue.

The house previously belonged to Governor Lowell P Weicker, Jr and his wife Claudia. In 1989 they bought “Applejack Farm” for $1.5 million after selling their other Greenwich home for over $900,000.

For a time when he was Governor and lived rent free in the Governor’s mansion in Hartford, he rented out Applejack Farm.

The house, one of the oldest houses in Greenwich, The Daniel Reynolds House, is plaqued by the Historical Society and dates back to 1743.

It is also known “Applejack Farm.”

Back in 1992 Governor Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. applied to the Planning & Zoning Commission to have his property at 731 Lake Avenue granted a Historic Overlay designation for the property.

At that time, in exchange for permission to put in a kitchen in the garage cottage, there was an agreement to deed restrict the house in perpetuity so it would never be torn down.

There is an existing main house and a garage cottage, which was converted from guest quarters to a dwelling unit, allowing for two dwelling units on the 3 acre property.

This was submitted in order to provide for two dwelling units on the 3-acre parcel which is located in the RA-2 Zone.

The current owners, the applicants are Sharon and Frank Kinney, seek to remove the historic overlay designation and remove the kitchen including 30″ range and full height refrigerator in the cottage, returning it to guest quarters without cooking facilities. As a result the house would conform to the underlying RA-2 Zone.

On Tuesday night the commission said they felt that “in perpetuity” really meant for all time, and not just until for as long as the owner wants to have it. The commission declined to remove the HO.

There was discussion of case law along those lines and a potential resolution was reviewed whereby the applicant would remove the restrictions on the interior of the home.

Ms DeLuca said P&Z does not usually get involved in restrictions on the interior of a historic home.

“That is quite unusual today, perhaps not in 1992,” DeLuca said. “Perhaps that will be enough to satisfy the applicant and they’ll come back with that change.”