Bed and Breakfast hearing Sept. 19

A couple’s application to run a bed and breakfast out of their Circle Drive residence has stirred the ire of neighbors, who argue the business will drive down property values, and set a precedent for businesses to move into residentially zoned neighborhoods.

Thomas and Catherine Savoca filed the application for the bed and breakfast with Planning and Zoning and it goes to a public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 7:30 p.m.

Neighbors oppose the proposal and have set up signs on their property denouncing the B&B. The Savocas, meanwhile, have sent The Press a photo of a sign from another neighbor which simply states “be nice to each other.”

Front Porch Farm

Under town zoning regulations, a bed and breakfast is allowed in a residential zone, though homeowners must first obtain a special permit from Planning and Zoning.

The Savocas said their application for a B&B “is not for a ‘hotel’, ‘motel’, ‘mini-hotel’ or any other commercial usage now or at any time in the future. Our home would remain just that … our primary residence and zoned as such.”

Applicants who want to run a bed and breakfast must also ensure their plan meets fire and safety codes.

Some renovations of the house will be necessary for safety and privacy. Rooms upstairs would be renovated into two two-bedroom suites with one bath each. Doors would be added to both floors of the house for fire safety — interior fire-rated doors would be added to the kitchen and suite rooms.

The Savocas tentatively named the B&B “Front Porch Farm.”

Residents against the plan said that bringing in outside guests represents its own safety concern.

“You’re putting families and other neighbors in a position where you’re introducing 200 or more guests a year into a neighborhood that wouldn’t have been there otherwise,” said neighbor Rob Pacifico, in an interview with The Press.

Pacifico organized a group called Circle Drive Neighbors Alliance and argued that not knowing who his neighbors might be posed a safety concern to the neighborhood.

In their response to those concerns, the Savocas said that “the guests that we would have to our home would be living with us and would not pose a safety issue to our neighborhood.”

“They are, in fact, the kind of people we want to bring to Ridgefield to enjoy all our town has to offer and that includes sitting on our front porch to enjoy our neighborhood,” the Savocas told The Press.

‘Selfish act’

“Those who would convert their residential home to a short-term rental property are committing a blatantly selfish act,” Pacifico said.

“It all relates back to that it’s a commercial use in a residential neighborhood,” he said to the Press in an interview. “The way I see it, it’s a one sided transaction — the owner/operators get a financial benefit, but you saddle your neighbors with all the costs.”

But the Savocas say their proposal is fully in line with what the town intended and was  submitted in compliance with regulations.

Pacifico said he was “surprised” to learn that P&Z regulations allow residents to set up bed and breakfasts out of their homes. While he wouldn’t give an exact number, he claims a vast majority of the neighbors around Circle Drive are in opposition to the proposal.

Correction: an earlier version of this story stated that exterior doors would be added to both floors for fire safety. No additional exterior doors would be necessary, the doors added would be interior fire-rated doors.