P&Z Considers Residential Garage Sizes

Published: May 13, 2019 at 07:15 am


On May 16, the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) is scheduled to continue a public hearing that began on May 2 concerning proposed zoning regulations that would create some controls on the size of attached and detached garages which are allowed in residential zones.

The May 16 session is slated for 7:30 pm at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.

On May 2, P&Z Chairman Don Mitchell said the proposed zoning rules, which would typically limit residential garages to a 1,600-square-foot “footprint,” seek to create controls to keep large garages from becoming machine shops and other commercial uses.

Under the proposed zoning rules, a residential garage could have a footprint larger than 1,600 square feet, provided that the applicant receives a special zoning permit for such construction from the P&Z, he said. Obtaining such a permit would require a public hearing before the P&Z.

Bentagrass Lane

During the public comment section of the May 2 hearing, several property owners spoke negatively about a 6,000-square-foot detached garage that has been constructed on a three-acre residential property at 16 Bentagrass Lane in a R-3 zone. The property is owned by Margaret and Michael Whalen.

The garage site is at the end of the dead-end Bentagrass Lane, which extends from Brushy Hill Road. Another dead-end section of Bentagrass Lane extends from Boggs Hill Road.

The Whalens applied to construct the pre-engineered detached garage in April 2018 and received the required approvals for the project from multiple town agencies. The garage does not yet have a certificate of occupancy.

Andrew Philbin, the owner of 176 Brushy Hill Road, told P&Z members that large garages such as the one at 16 Bentagrass Lane, decrease nearby property values and have a negative effect on the character of a neighborhood.

Richard Tanner of 18 Willow Brook Lane said he lives near the garage at 16 Bentagrass Lane and can see the structure from his house, adding that its presence damages nearby property values.

Sandra Marsilius of 14 Bentagrass Lane said she has owned her property for the past 21 years and her new neighbor at 16 Bentagrass Lane has constructed what amounts to a “warehouse” next door to her property. She characterized the structure as an “industrial building” which is overly large and damaging to property values. Ms Marsilius added that the structure’s presence has injured her peace of mind.

Dawn Tanner of 18 Willow Brook Lane told P&Z members that every day she watches as noisy trucks enter and leave the garage area at 16 Bentagrass Lane. “It’s shocking,” she said.

Charles Zukowski of Cornfield Ridge Road told P&Z members that the P&Z’s description of a 1,600-square-foot garage as being a “three-car garage” is misleading in that a three-car garage would more likely be about 700 square feet in floor area.

Contacted by telephone on May 8, Mr Whalen had no comment on the May 2 P&Z hearing, which he did not attend.

Garages that are accessory uses to single-family houses typically have two or three vehicle bays, with some large residential garages containing even more bays. Most local residential garages are attached to a house, but some are freestanding structures.

Recreational Vehicles

In another matter at the May 2 P&Z session, P&Z members held a public hearing on a proposed zoning regulation that would permit the occupancy of a “recreational vehicle” for a period of up to six months within a calendar year.

The rule is being proposed by PH Architects LLC, on behalf of the owners of a private horse farm at 42 Taunton Hill Road. The regulation is intended to allow grooms to have a place to live while training horses for competition.

P&Z members decided to continue the public hearing on the matter to May 16.


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