Proposed property subdivision in Tokeneke Association draws ire

An application proposing to divide an Old Farm Road estate near Darien’s Tokeneke tax district into four separate building lots has raised concerns among residents of the private neighborhood. The applicant doesn’t propose any changes to the existing buildings but is looking to make the estate more appealing to potential buyers by dividing the property into individual lots of more than an acre.

There are already four families living on the property and the project would add new driveways facing Old Farm  Road and Homewood Lane for accessing the separate lots. The applicant, the Estate of Anne C. Cary, also owns another property adjacent the subdivision area. During public hearings for the property, residents of Tokeneke expressed concerns that subdividing the property for new developments could adversely affect traffic and drainage in their neighborhood and impact their ability to maintain the private portions of the roads.

The Tokeneke Tax District was established in January 1957 and all homeowners within the district pay a separate tax to maintain the roads and police constables in the neighborhood. As a result the Town of Darien is not directly responsible for maintenance along all of Old Farm Road. Tokeneke Association President Jim Solberg listed several of the association’s issues with the proposed subdivisions.

Solberg said that while the property is not completely abutting Tokeneke land, changes to the road could create a burden on the neighborhood and anticipated development should be considered before the subdivision is approved. Solberg suggested that the lots should use a single driveway entry, as opposed to the two that currently exist and the four total being proposed.

“What I think sometimes happens is, you allow a property to be subdivided and say ‘oh we’ll take care of these issues later,’” Solberg said. “And then somebody comes in and buys the property paying x number of million dollars and says ‘wait a minute, why are you raising issues that should’ve been raised earlier?’ Such as driveway cuts and etcetera.”

He continued, “As an association we think we’ve got a very large in voice in saying what we think would be overburdening our roads, both in maintaining and keeping safe.”

Amy Zabetakis, an attorney speaking on behalf of the applicant, said the subdivision should be considered separately from any forthcoming plans for new houses, as those projects will be vetted in different applications.

“We’re not proposing any of that, it’s four lots and we don’t want to give anyone a false sense of security that you have approved any houses,” Zabetakis said during the meeting. “As you well know when any houses come forward to be built they will be required to have zero net runoff, they will be required to maintain all storm water on the property, we’re not going to be dumping into the Tokeneke system, we’re not going to be dumping into the easement.

She added, “It’s probably going to better for everyone because we’re reducing the impervious surface and we’re going to have onsite drainage retention.”

As the application is in the public hearing phase the Planning & Zoning Commission did not deliberate the subdivision and chose to keep the discussion open through March 6 to allow for more information and expert testimony to be submitted. Commissioner Elizabeth Riva also chose to recuse herself from deliberations on the subdivision due to family history with a neighboring property.