P&Z Watch: Tall Two Family Home Proposed for Small Lot in Pemberwick

At the Jan 20 P&Z meeting, attorney Casey O’Donnell presented a pre application for a new two-family home at 26 Homestead Lane, a .11 Acre property off Pemberwick Road, in the R-6 zone. The applicant is Darien Partners LLC.

The site, now a vacant lot, is about 450 feet east of the Byram River.

The entire front yard is proposed to be entirely paved and used for parking, and Mr. O’Donnell asked the commission for feedback.

Commissioner Nick Macri asked Mr. O’Donnell for a clearer visual to show how the cars would fit. O’Donnell explained that residents would park tandem, two per unit on both sides. A fifth outdoor space would be available for a guest or whichever family has the first third car.

Commissioner Peter Levy questioned whether it was possible to add some green space, and whether so much yard needed to be paved for parking.

P&Z commission chair asked if the applicant had considered building a single family house.

P&Z director Katie Deluca asked the applicant to show the history of the lot, and questioned whether it was actually a buildable lot.

Mr. O’Donnell, who was formerly the zoning enforcement officer for the town of Greenwich, said that in the past the lot was improved with a single family dwelling. He even recalled communicating to the property owner the town’s request that the house be demolished some time between 2005 and 2010.

“A local owner started a renovation – there was a home there. The renovations left it in such a state that it was safest if the home was demolished,” he said. “I was part of communicating to him that the home had to be demolished to be made safe.”

Commissioner Nick Macri said it was not clear from the site plan how turn radiuses to enter and exit would work. He said the curb cut was off center to the building and the back-out areas. “Do I have to do some kind of strange calisthenics to get into the garages?” he asked.

There was no landscape plan provided. That might have depicted screening in front by the street.

Mr. Macri said because of the flood zone grade plane, the building was “incredibly tall.” He wondered if it would be possible to lower the building.

O’Donnell said there were other homes in the area that had been built on stilts to address the flood regulations.

“Our biggest concern, as you surmised in the submission, was the undersized lot relative to the parking,” said P&Z chair Margarita Alban.

Neighbor Tony Pratico the garage of his Pemberwick Rd house is at the rear, the drive exiting onto Homestead. He said he already has to knock on doors to ask people to move their cars blocking his driveway.

He said in the past 20 years, applications to build a house on the property had been submitted to the town twice, and twice were turned down.

Not only is that an undersized lot, but the street itself is non conforming.

The end of the street is private and dead ends at a town pump station.

The larger houses on the road are on the private portion.

Pratico said the proposed house was out of scale with the others on the street, which are mostly bungalows no taller than 12 feet, except one two-family of modest size.

They were all under water in Ida,” he said. “It’s a flood zone.”

“I was distressed to learn they’d get an exception for grade plane and building height,” Pratico continued. “Regardless of what exception they get, that house stands 39-1/2 ft tall. He gets the exemption for the flood plane, but you put 39-1/2 feet and you’re in a state of shock.”

Mr. Pratico said over time, homes on Pemberwick Road had been converted from small, single family houses to two-family and three- family homes – without enough parking. As a result, he said when the town is scheduled to clean the street, residents move their cars to Homestead.

Further, he said cars park on both sides of Homestead making it difficult to navigate.

He said that while the application states the road is 35 ft wide, by his measurement, “from grass to grass,” it was just 23 feet wide.

“My main concern is the size of the development compared to everything around it, and the parking. That’s a four bedroom apartment house. That could mean teens and could very well mean four cars per family,” Pratico said.”I don’t know where they’re going to park. I think you can recommend that if something does get approved that the Selectmen post parking on one side only, otherwise we can’t get out of our driveways at all.”

Pratico said he’d repeatedly had to knock on neighbors’ doors when their guests block his driveway, and that cars park on both sides of Homestead despite the road being narrow.

“Go down there and look at the neighborhood,” he said. “I think you’d be surprised.”

A drive down the dead end road revealed a row of driveways behind homes on Pemberwick Road. Many of those residents have posted signs saying, “Do not block driveway.”

See also:

Six-Story, 110 Unit Affordable Housing Development Would Be a Stone’s Throw from Greenwich Ave

LETTER: Local zoning control is a cause worth fighting for.

GRANOFF: The Need for Apartments in Greenwich