End in sight for brick barn
NEW CANAAN — The brick barn on Richmond Hill Road won’t be demolished until the Board of Selectmen approves a demolition contract.
But it certainly cannot be used by anyone after the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to “abandon” the building at its Oct. 30 regular meeting.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan had referred the matter of the barn’s use to the Planning and Zoning Commission for review. This action is based on the Connecticut General Statute 8-24 that, in sum, gives the land-use body the authority to approve or disapprove the sale, lease or abandonment of a municipal property.
Something that was amiss at the commission’s Oct. 30 meeting that has been an occurrence at other steps of the process was comment from the public. The item was part of the commission’s regular meeting and hence not a public hearing.
Director of Public Works Tiger Mann, in a presentation, provided an overview of the Richmond Hill building dating back to the turn of this century when the Parks Department had its offices there.
“There is a major omission in this,” a member of the audience said, referring to Mann’s presentation. At certain points of the regular meeting some of the attendees who were in favor of preserving the barn groaned and shook their heads.
Commissioners peppered Mann with questions about the building’s structure and other aspects.
“The town has no plan or use for that building,” Commissioner Laszlo Papp said. “We must accept that fact.”
Commissioner John Kritz said that the demolition of the building would serve to enhance the Gold Star Walk, a memorial to the town’s fallen soldiers, that is located in the adjacent park.
“It’s an important thing to see this to enhance (the Gold Star Walk) and I see that as a very persuasive comment,” Kritz said.
The Planning and Zoning Commission, in a unanimous vote, effectively approved the abandonment of the building, rendering it useless.
A member of the Preservation Alliance, the organization that had previously presented their plan to the town council to maintain and possibly lease the building, said she was “furious” following the commission’s decision.
As of press time, leaders of the Preservation Alliance, who had made a presentation to the town council about maintaining the brick building, did not return requests for comment.
The back and forth on the demolition goes back to May in a town council meeting — where Moynihan had to cast a rare tie-breaking vote — when funding was approved for the demolition. The Historical Review Committee in a 3-2 vote, granted a 90-day demolition delay that expired in mid-October.
Though the Board of Selectmen took no action on approving the demolition contract at their meeting last week, they will now see the item return to them except that now the town’s land regulation body has formally declared the building to be abandoned.
The next Board of Selectmen meeting is scheduled for Nov. 6.
“All the steps have been taken care of,” Moynihan said, referring to the Planning and Zoning Commission’s vote after the meeting.