Preserve Lower Lake
September 16, 2021
Margarita Alban, Chair and Members
Town of Greenwich Planning & Zoning Commission
Katie DeLuca, AICP
Town of Greenwich Director of Planning & Zoning
RE: Proposed Day Care at the Carmel Academy (270 Lake Avenue Greenwich, CT)
Dear Ms. Alban, Commission Members and Ms. DeLuca:
We are writing you to ask you to reject the application of Chabad Lubavitch of Greenwich (the “Applicant”) to operate a Day Care Center at 270 Lake Avenue, Greenwich, Connecticut (the “Property”). We do so to preserve our neighborhood and to prevent an unsafe increase in traffic along Lake Avenue as outlined below. The Applicant, which is not the owner but has been an a occupant on parts of the Property for some time, opened the Day Care Center in 2020, before receiving the local approvals required to do so, robbing Greenwich residents of their Due Process Rights to review and comment on this intensification in use. The Day Care and other non-permitted uses have already adversely impacted the surrounding residential neighborhood. Finally, the Applicant has not been transparent about their current and future plans for the Property, and has already violated multiple rules governing the Property. Therefore, we encourage you to vote no on this application.
1. The Day Care began operating on the Property without the benefit of full Planning & Zoning Commission Approval.
Our Zoning Regulations clearly require a Day Care to receive Special Permit Approval from the Planning & Zoning Commission before opening. This regulatory requirement guarantees neighbors are noticed and given an opportunity to be heard before such a facility opens. However, the Applicant opened its Day Care in the Summer of 2020, without receiving Commission approval to do so, without providing any notice to neighboring residents, without allowing for a full vetting by the Commission and neighbors in an open public hearing and without an approved Special Permit. An administrative approval allowing the Applicant to open early was improperly issued, robbing our community of its Due Process Rights to receive notice of a pending application and to comment on the proposed intensification. Such an unauthorized administrative approval sets a dangerous precedent moving forward that may encourage other applicants to intensify non-residential operations without noticing neighbors and without seeking formal Commission approval.
2. The Day Care and other non-permitted uses have adversely impacted the residential neighborhood.
The Property is in a single-family residential neighborhood along Lake Avenue and along adjoining residential streets. The Property is a member of the Rock Ridge Association, an organization of mostly single-family homes. The Day Care and other non-permitted uses of the Property engaged in by the Applicant have adversely impacted its residential neighbors by:
- Conducting non-permitted, activities on the Property, and marketing the Property for such events.
- Allowing numerous noise disturbances associated with the Day Care and other non-permitted activities at the Property, including amplified electronic music, singing and vocal presentations that interfere with the tranquility of the surrounding residential neighborhood.
- Leasing of space on the Property to private organizations not currently permitted by the Zoning Regulations;
- Introduction and intensification of traffic patterns associated with the Day Care use.
The Day Care intends to enroll 70 children as young as 18 months old. At this age, children will be dropped off and picked up individually by parents or guardians in private cars, and not by a school bus or van as has historically occurred on the Property for the past elementary school use. Approving this Day Care will burden Lake Avenue and surrounding streets with up to 70 cars during peak morning and evening traffic hours. This will add to traffic already caused by commuters traveling to and from the Merritt Parkway, interrupting residential neighbors and other permitted uses in the community such as the Field Club. This increase in traffic could also lead to an increase in traffic accidents at Lake Avenue Circle.
3. The Applicant has not been forthcoming about its intentions for the Property.
The Property is 16.5 acres. It is unlikely that the Applicant intends to use the entire Property as a Day Care for 70 children. However, the Applicant has not been forthcoming with neighbors or the Commission about other non-residential uses it intends to introduce to the Property (even though it recently advertised some of these non-residential uses on its website and on social media). The Applicant should be required to submit a Master Plan detailing how it intends to further increase the intensity of its use of the Property in the future. This will provide neighbors and the Commission with a complete understanding of the impact approving the Day Care will have on the Property and the neighborhood. This level of transparency is critical as the Applicant has already violated existing land use restrictions governing the Property. We cannot trust that the Applicant will play by the rules in the future when it has and continues to violate existing zoning regulations as documented by numerous complaints to Greenwich Planning & Zoning. These violations are taking place while the Applicant is seeking Commission approval to expand its operations on the Property.
The lack of transparency is further illustrated by the Applicant’s traffic report, which was conducted during the COVID-19 Pandemic and during a school break. The Applicant should be required to provide a more accurate traffic analysis, and this revised analysis should be reviewed by an independent 3rd party.
The Applicant has demonstrated a consistent disregard for their neighbors, the Planning & Zoning Commission, and the Town of Greenwich. For these reasons, we ask that you Preserve Lower Lake and vote to reject this application.