Using zoning instead of your pocket book

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.

610 Lake Avenue

610 Lake Avenue, with pond scum


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9 responses to “Using zoning instead of your pocket book

  1. anon2

    The linked article refers to the studio as historic. Who thus so proclaimed other than the newspaper?

  2. Anonymous

    Always risky to buy an estate lot with so much shared (via multiple easements) with neighbor….septic fields, road, pond.

  3. Publius

    This represents the tyranny of small town government and local zoning laws. Property rights of one can be trampled on by another just because they can. Come to think about it, isn’t this really just a microcosm of what our country has become? Lobbying government at all levels for a benefit that the lobbyist cannot or will not pay instead using OPM or the threat of legal action to get the benefit while having the cost borne by others.

  4. pulled up in OG

    “ . . . the owner, Jung Hoon Cho, has requested a side yard of only 23 feet when zoning regulations require 35 feet, and a rear yard of 25 feet, where 77 feet are required.”

    Mighty odd number that, 77 feet.

  5. towny

    creepy property. 600 lake too.

    • Cobra

      What’s “creepy” about 600 Lake? Looks like a very nice older home on a very private site…90+ acres.

  6. Anonymous works

    In a town like Greenwich where there are tons of ugly new builds, why shouldn’t people rely on zoning regulations to protect a neighborhood from a colossus? The house may be great, but better to check it out in court first! I do think owning a property for 60 years gives you the right, at a minimum,to ask for information during a public meeting. A good architect should be prepared to handle this!

    • There’s a back story to this, but I’m not at liberty to disclose it, now. There’s more going on here, however, than merely “a request for information”.