Planning & Zoning members continue debate on Darien Boy Scout cabin use, yearly budgeting
At last Tuesday’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, members deliberated heavily on whether or not the proposed new Boy Scout cabin should be used for Scout-related activities only.
The proposed new cabin would be built 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.
Also in debate Tuesday was terms regarding the annual Darien Boy Scout tag sale, which is held on the Boy Scout property.
The 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.
At Tuesday’s meeting, which was attended by about 30 people, Planning & Zoning Commission members discussed the difference between special Boy Scout events and activities that are not related to Scouting.
They classified special events to be Courts of Honors, the Pinewood Derby, the Blue and Gold Dinner, the Venture Club, regional Scoutmaster trainings, and the annual Scout register open house.
To contrast, activities that P&Z members consider to be outside of Scouting include the Darien soccer club, the Garden Club, and Danceabilities.
Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman John Sini said all activities held inside the new proposed Scout Cabin should be Scout-related.
“The non-Scout related activities need to find another venue to work out of,” he said.
Commission member Elizabeth Riva disagreed with Sini, saying the Boy Scout organization should be the ones to decide which they want to use the cabin for.
“It’s a private property owner. We do not tell them what they can and can’t do in regards to whom they let on their private property,” Riva said. “I would allow the private property owner to manage this themselves.”
Sini said that by regulating who uses the Scout Cabin, P&Z members are trying to manage the “intensity” and “use” of the property, which “is a big concern.”
Commission member James Rand said that, reflecting on all the testimony he has heard at the hearing from Cabin neighbors, the Scout cabin debate has gotten “out of control” and measures should be established in order to prevent it from recurring ever again.
One of these measures, Rand said, should be making the Boy Scouts provide the Commission with an annual budget of its expenses.
“I dont think it’s an undue burden on the Scouts to come before us once a year and say, ‘This is our plan.’ That would give us an opportunity to not only control what they’re doing but to enable them — if we think it makes sense — to address some of these other activities that they want to do,” Rand said. “I want them to come to us at the end of the summer and say ‘This is our budget for the next year.’”
In response, Sini said Rand’s suggestion is inconsistent with the way the Commission has dealt with other clubs and organizations in the past.
The Commission “has given other clubs in town a certain amount of special events so that they can budget, so that they don't have to come every year,” Sini said. “They can just submit a list under the criteria of special events.”
According to Sini, being given a specific number of special events is “very important” to the way an organization should operate.
“I certainly don’t think I want to saddle an organization to come for a special permit every year,” Sini said.
Attendance, tag sale timing
Regarding the number of people in attendance at any given Boy Scout event, Commission members put a cap on 50 to 60.
In response to the question of how long the tag sale should take from setup to finish, members settled upon five weeks. This includes a four week set-up and a one-week breakdown.
According to the Commission, the Boy Scouts will have to come back to the Planning & Zoning Commission in September of 2019 with a review after the 2019 tag sale, and provide feedback.
The Commission will prepare a redline version of its proposal, which reflects Tuesday’s conversation — as well as conversations from prior meetings — and have it ready for the Planning & Zoning Commission Special Meeting on Nov. 27. They hope to vote on a final draft resolution at that time, according to Sini.
The public hearing on the new Scout Cabin and tag sale closed on Oct. 23, and the Planning & Zoning Commission has until Dec. 27 to make a final decision.