'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.

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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