Pro­posal for Scout cabin threat­ens an­nual tag sale

The Norwalk Hour - - TOWN NEWS - By Ly­nan­dro Sim­mons

DARIEN — A town tra­di­tion is un­der fire.

With the re­cent pro­posal to de­mol­ish a Boy Scouts cabin on West Av­enue, neigh­bors have come out against the ex­panded size, as well as the Scouts’ an­nual Gi­ant Tag Sale.

The last tag sale took place in May. The an­nual event was es­tab­lished in 1972.

At a Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion pub­lic hear­ing for a pro­posed 8,000-square­foot cabin Tues­day night, sev­eral neigh­bors spoke out against the tag sale, in ad­di­tion to the size of the new build­ing.

Wil­liam Per­rone, a res­i­dent who can see the cabin from his back­yard, said no one was ques­tion­ing the tremen­dous value of the Scouts to the youth. How­ever, he and other neigh­bors drew con­cerns around the an­nual event.

“For two months out of each year we live with what looks like a refugee camp,” Per­rone said.

The du­ra­tion of the setup and break­down af­ter­ward is in vi­o­la­tion of the ex­ist­ing per­mit, he said. Neigh­bors feel town of­fi­cials have turned a blind eye to the abuse of the priv­i­lege the Scouts’ per­mit pro­vides.

“No other town ci­ti­zen would be al­lowed to have tem­po­rary struc­tures and tents up for so long,” he said.

Joel­lyn Gray, one of the three trustees for the An­drew Shaw Memo­rial Trust, said the con­struc­tion of the new build­ing was im­por­tant for the Scouts.

“We are do­ing what FEMA and town reg­u­la­tions wants us to do,” Gray said. “We’re con­struct­ing a flood-proof build­ing ... and pro­vid­ing a long-last­ing home for an im­por­tant 100-year-old civic in­sti­tu­tion.”

The neigh­bors were taken into con­sid­er­a­tion dur­ing the plan­ning, she said. Af­ter con­tact­ing neigh­bors, the orig­i­nal plans were mod­i­fied. Waste dis­posal was re­lo­cated to the cen­ter of the prop­erty and fenc­ing pro­vided an ex­ten­sive bor­der along the edges of the prop­erty.

Gray said the Scouts are happy to con­tinue to work with neigh­bors, but the one re­quest that can­not be met is the re­stric­tion of the Scouts’ an­nual tag sale.

“This is a ma­jor ed­u­ca­tional event for the Scouts,” she said.

The event is a ma­jor fundraiser that pro­vides the Scouts’ op­er­a­tional funds. Gray said the tag sale is crit­i­cal be­cause the Scouts re­ceive no fund­ing from the town, the state and na­tional boy scouts or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Plan­ning and Zon­ing Chair­man John Sini said he re­al­izes the im­por­tance of the tag sale, but it doesn’t ap­pear to fit the town’s zon­ing reg­u­la­tions. The reg­u­la­tion would re­quire the sale to be con­ducted and re­solved within a week. Sini said af­ter hear­ing tes­ti­mony from neigh­bors, it doesn’t ap­pear the event even comes close.

“We’re go­ing to have to hear some re­ally good tes­ti­mony to why it would fit our zon­ing reg­u­la­tions,” he said.

The com­mis­sion also asked for ev­i­dence that the in­ten­sity of use will not grow dra­mat­i­cally, even with the in­creased cabin size.

The pub­lic hear­ing is sched­uled to con­tinue on Oct. 23.

Ly­nan­dro Sim­mons / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

The An­drew Shaw Memo­rial Trust cabin at 140 West Ave.

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