What constitutes a special event? How many special events should there be in a year? Is the tag sale considered a special event?
Those were some of the questions debated by members of the Planning & Zoning Commission at its Special Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
The questions related to the proposal of a new Boy Scout cabin on the site of the current Andrew Shaw Memorial Trust cabin.
The proposal involves razing the existing structures on two properties, combining the properties at 138 and 140 West Avenue, and constructing the new cabin.
The 1.38+/- acre subject property is located on the north side of West Avenue, approximately 175 feet east of its intersection with Old Parish Road.
Construction of the proposed cabin would begin in May of 2020.
The annual Darien Boy Scout tag sale, which has run for the last 46 years, is the main source of funding for the troop. Recently, those living near the current Scout cabin have been complaining about both the proposed cabin and the tag sale.
Planning & Zoning Chairman John Sini said special events that the Boy Scouts hold at the cabin are determined based on the number of attendees and if they’re not considered regular troop activities.
Commission members said that any event that has over 50 people in the cabin should be considered a special event.
They also said that special events are those that have adult supervision. This is because adults are the ones who will be driving, not the scouts. So in those instances, parking for an event can become an issue.
The Boy Scouts have requested holding 16 special events throughout the year.
This figure was determined as follows: Five sleepovers, three Eagle Scout Court of Honors (which will recognize several boys at each), two Pinewood Derbys, and six Blue and Gold Dinners.
This request was honored by the commission.
However, the commission asked when those special events will occur throughout the year.
“Let the applicant submit — when the new structure is created — a regular schedule to Planning & Zoning, in regard to when the special events will take place,” Sini said.
Sini said it’s “very important” that No Parking signs are placed on West Avenue.
“We would highly recommend that the [person attending an event] park people at their offsite locations for any of these special events,” Sini said.
Commission member Kevin Cunningham said it’s not always going to be guaranteed that Ring’s End of Koons lot or any other agreed upon parking spaces will be available.
Due to that, Sini is requesting scout leaders develop a parking schedule.
“I would like in the yearly submission letter to include the parking plan for the year, that they have signed off in the agreement with either Ring’s End, Koons lot, [or other locations], that they are in fact going to be using those lots for the programmed event they scheduled for,” Cunningham said.
Sini said what “annoys” him about the parking issue “is this situation has gone on for 10 years and no one spoke to one another about the parking issues and now we’re forced to come in and mediate this whole mess.”
Commission members said the annual tag sale is not counted as one of the Boy Scout special events.
The tag sale is “by far the biggest problem” for the neighbors, Sini said.
He added that the tag sale, which includes its set up and take down, goes on “much too long” in terms of the duration of an event.
“I think of special events as one week setups and teardowns,” he said.
He added, however, that “In reality, I think a one week set up and tear down for this event is probably not feasible. So we’ve got to form some sort of compromise between the neighbors, our regulations, and the applicant.”
In addition, there should be no other scouting activities nor any active construction going on during the tag sale, commission members stipulated.
The new conditions that are being set forth are in effect for one year, according to Sini.
Other issues relating to the tag sale such as security, storage, lighting, refuse, and gating will be discussed at a future meeting.
The Planning & Zoning Commission has 65 days to make a decision on the new scout cabin and tag sale from the date the public hearing closed, which was the week of Oct. 21.