The neighbor of 610 Lake Avenue will be sending her lawyers off to the P&Z Board of Appeals tonight to protest the razing of Ernest Thompson Seton’s “studio”, built in 1928. As the picture shows, the place is uninhabitable, with plastic tarps strung over the top to keep water out, etc. Ms. Betty Cobbs Brown tells the Greenwich Time (it’s behind the GT cash wall, and I refuse to pay $2.50 to see it) that she and her husband bought five of the 7 1/2 acres of what was left of the Seton property back in 1954 and have enjoyed it ever since.
That’s just fine, and I’m glad Ms. Brown has had a good time of it, but she could have purchased this parcel in 2012 for $890,000 and protected her seclusion while adding to her land holdings at a minimal price. I find it upsetting that she – or any owner, this isn’t directed at her – is allowed to avoid spending her money, yet can achieve the same thing merely by objecting to anything being built on it by the person who did pay up.
I’m fairly familiar with the property, although I didn’t represent either the buyer or the seller, and between the pond on the property and wetlands, with their own setback requirements, nothing can be built here without a variance. That’s okay – in fact, that’s why zoning systems are set up to have an appeals process – but I do find it objectionable for a neighbor to object to that building when she could have put her money, rather than her lawyer, where her mouth is.