Tuesday’s marathon seven hour P&Z meeting kicked off with a pre application review of the Greenwich Preservation Trust’s proposed improvements to the historic Thomas Lyon House.
Thomas Lyon House, a Colonial Saltbox that was first constructed circa 1690 by Thomas Lyon Jr, son of Thomas Lyon, and grandson-in-law to Governor John Winthrop was also the site of the early abolitionist movement in Greenwich. It is considered to be the oldest unaltered structure in Greenwich.
The proposal includes construction of a parking area, clearing of undergrowth and debris, restoration of landscaping, lot line fencing and considerations for pedestrian access from up the hill at Hamill Rink.
A pre-application for a new Hamill Rink was on the P&Z agenda after Lyon house.
Greenwich Preservation Trust’s Paul Pugliese said his organization originally hoped to move the Lyon House further up the hill.
However, he explained was noted that due to the uncertainty over when and where a new rink will be constructed, they abandoned that idea.
Norm Davis said Greenwich Preservation Trust wanted to make the house as accessible as possible, first by converting an existing path around the house to an ADA accessible one.
“We are asking to install a full ADA compliant bathroom at grade level with no ramps,” he said, adding that the proposed 15×19 ft parking lot for six cars would be both accessible and convenient for groups who arrive in a mini bus.
He said that while the ADA parking is 3 inches below the pedestrian path around the house, the grading goes right to the rear door by the proposed ADA bathroom.
Mr. Davis noted that there is a stairway leading up the hill to the rink and Morlot Park, all of which is town property.
“The stairs are in rough condition with no handrails,” he said. “We hope to work with the town to make it a more viable connection that gets a little closer to the code, both from liability standard as well as to make the connection down to Byram Road.”
Paul Pugliese said the plan is to use an existing curb cut to the left of the house and limit exiting vehicles to right turn only rather than attempt to shoot across Rte 1 to head west.
“I think this is a great project,” said commissioner Dennis Yeskey. “This is the entrance to town from the west.”
Asked if there were concerns about flooding, Mr. Pugliese explained that there had already been a significant amount of mitigation on the hill.
“Because water coming down from the Housing Authority project was directed almost at the house,” Pugliese said. “We had some significant damage to the back wall of the house.”
Pugliese said the Greenwich Preservation Trust gifted money to the town to mitigate runoff and plan to use pervious surfaces wherever possible.
“Are you saying the site above is discharging its drainage to you guys?” asked commissioner Nick Macri.
“Yes, there was a pipe coming down the hill and discharging behind the Lyon House and we had to reroute it around the side so it does not impact the house,” Pugliese said. “It seems to be working fine now.”
Al Shehady spoke on behalf of the Byram Neighborhood Association.
“We are strongly in favor of this project. We love the history of the building and the importance of the Lyon legacy to the town,” he said.
However, he said the BNA had heard concerns about traffic safety at the intersection of Byram Road and Route 1, and that they’d like to see a traffic signal installed.
P&Z chair Margarita Alban noted that that was the purview of the Dept of Transportation.
Alban said that when the applicant returned, they should let the commission know the hours they plan to be open, any seasonal events and how events and hours would work relative to peak traffic hours on Rte 1 and school traffic.