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'McMansions' Regulations Haunt House Builder Applicant

Reed Whipple needed an exemption for lot-coverage regulations passed over a decade ago to restrict the construction of oversized houses.

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the modification of a prior zoning decision on a house caught between regulations passed years ago to curb the construction of oversized homes known as “McMansions.”

Builder Reed Whipple requested an exemption for the lot coverage restriction involving only 263 square feet for a spec house he plans to build at 13 Bryon Ave.

Architect Doug MacMillan, who presented the proposed exemption, said the lot was originally created and zoning approved for the house in 2005 at the peak of the pre-recession real estate boom. But when the recession hit the housing market, the house was never built.

Several years earlier, Ridgefield adopted stricter lot coverage regulations following complaints that many new residences were oversized for their lots. The oversized homes were wryly nicknamed “McMansions” or “starter castles.”

But some builders’ efforts to get around the new regulations resulted in large homes that lacked any interesting design details, so sometime after the site plan for 13 Bryon Ave. was approved, new regulations were approved that changed the way lot coverage was calculated.

MacMillan said Whipple wanted to move the garage and attach it to the house in order to redesign the driveway layout to make the new spec house more attractive.

Whipple explained that as the real estate market improved, marketing priorities for the property have changed. Relocating the garage was part of that reassessment.

But the applicant learned that his new design conflicted with the new lot coverage regulations, thus necessitating an exemption.

Eileen December 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Oh please. Like Ridgefield "needs" another house built. What about all the houses sitting on the market now that aren't moving? And why does this mook get an exemption? Who did he pay and who does he know?
Leoj December 12, 2012 at 01:19 PM
RW has a long, long history in Town of getting exactly what he needs to do what he wants.
Eileen December 12, 2012 at 04:32 PM
@ Leoj I suspected as much.
a_better_ridgefield December 12, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I my opinion, there should be no more of these types of exceptions. I thought the deal was that you qualify for a variance if you can show that not having the variance would cause some type of financial hardship. Isn't that the rule? Could someone please tell me if I'm wrong? But what are we talking about here, a financial hardship involving a McMansion?? In my view, too many of the wrong kind of variances are granted. What epitomizes it for me is that stuff I was reading about a few months ago where we granted a variance for a retail shop to open in a residential neighborhood, but we turned down an application for a gas station on a street filled with gas stations. Come on people, look at what's happening to this town.
RidgefieldResident December 12, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Henry Glawson, why do you comment on these local forums if you don't live here anymore, especially in such an unpleasant way. We have enough nastiness in Ridgefield thank you very much, we don't have to import it!
Henry Glawson December 13, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Ah, I see. Because I don't know who Ed Tyrell is, I'm nasty and unpleasant. As nasty as I may be, it's certainly not because I don't know who Ed Tyrell is. Since you're a resident, that, of course, places you on a pedestal, making us "one -time residents" merely imports, and unworthy to comment on your precious message thread. Let me clear something up for you. My family has been in Ridgefield for ten generations now, and in all likelihood, much longer than you have been. I still have substantial interests in town as well, and in all likelihood, much more so than you. So...(and you can guess where this is going)...I will comment on these local forums whenever I so please. Grow some thicker skin. It's a message thread on the Internet.
Henry Glawson December 13, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Ridgefield Resident-By the way, my only comment on this issue was in response to you, so I can only assume that you meant to respond to another post on the Ridgefield Press website. Otherwise, I have no idea what you're talking about.
COSMO P December 13, 2012 at 12:41 AM
RW built those houses behind Dr Yanitys house. You know the ones that were to TALL. And what do you know the Zoning board had a brain fade on how to read a ruler. They danced around this made some outrageous nonsense about the way the rule was written. Another words they ignored the fact that RW actually violeted zoning laws with the buildings height. But who is keeping track of the shady deals and underhanded deals to sum it up better.
COSMO P December 13, 2012 at 12:47 AM
He knows everyone and he knows how to get what he wants. He is a good old boy .
sebastian dangerfield December 13, 2012 at 06:13 AM
where is byron ave? Think the only people who should comment are the people on that street. I fail to see how having a house 1 mile away from any of you, warrants any outrage. Id rather have a guy build a house and get some tax money coming in, than in denying him -and in retaliation, have it turn into 830g land. Have to be careful these days with builders. And making decisions out of spite, can backfire...
COSMO P December 13, 2012 at 10:34 AM
Agree the threat of 8-30G seals this deal nicely. Amazing how the law makers gave big builders a license to steal.
Leoj December 13, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Don't care where you live in town ... all have an interest in P&Z enforcing the zoning regs ... to the degree they do not it is a real threat to every property owner.
Eileen December 13, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Spot on. Well said.
Eileen December 13, 2012 at 03:28 PM
To some degree your;e correct. However, what the P&Z does affects all of us at sometime. Why wait until it's in "your neighborhood"? It could be too late.
sebastian dangerfield December 13, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Leoj---fair point....but a look at any P&Z meeting minutes, witnesses exclusions and exemptions routinely. So, you should be protesting the dozens of examples, from a wood shed, to an extension, etc that P& Z passes all the time. The people who have a right to protest, are the one's affected. If you disagree with the routine issuance of exemptions, then so be it. Your post though reflects a disdain for this particular builder--
COSMO P December 13, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Each and every person in this town suffers from zoning rules that are ignored or violated. When the 8-30G law was passed everyone in the village figured it would not impact them. They were very mistaken. Even the developments up in northern Ridgebury was a big scam and how were those buildings built and approved. This town has very questionable people running it to say the least. And no end in sight to correct it. It seems to me that people don't care any more what happens in this town. The voting record of this town is clearly not interested in any of this. Another words as long as it is not in their back yards. Maybe this will change once these buildings are finished in the village. Those buildings that are under 8-30G can not be a good thing for the town or property values.

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