St. Stephen’s wants to move parking lot
Plans to relocate St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church’s parking lot — shifting it a little northward on the church’s six-acre Main Street campus — are scheduled for a Sept. 24 public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission and Inland Wetlands Board.
St. Stephen’s is the stone church just south of the commercial district, roughly across from the intersection of Governor Street and Main Street. The parking lot relocation comes as the church is looking into the possibility of selling South Hall, a former residence that currently gets little use.
The relocation of the parking is related to a planned revision of the lot lines for the two parcels that make up St. Stephen’s campus — one for South Hall, and another for the rest of the St. Stephen’s property that contains the sanctuary, rectory and North Hall with its public meeting rooms. Currently the two lots are of about equal size but the planned lot line revision would put South Hall on a lot of a little over an acre, while the other buildings are on about five acres.
But first the parking lot would be relocated.
The plan is to remove a gravel parking area behind South Hall and restore the area with landscaping — which involves an Inland Wetlands Board application since part of the area used for parking is in an “upland review area” that drains toward a wetland.
A new parking area with 52 spaces would then be built behind the church and rectory buildings.
“The applicant is a religious organization that established its church campus on the premises many years prior to the establishment of zoning regulations in Ridgefield,” attorney Bob Jewell said in a letter that’s part of the file in the town zoning office. “...There are no building renovations proposed as part of these applications and the parking and vehicular areas are not visible from a public right-of-way, so the Historic District Commission (HDC) approval should not be required for the project. The applicants is prepared, however, to cooperate and work with the HDC in the event there are any questions or comments.”
Earlier in the summer when news of the church’s plans first became public, it triggered a chain of highly emotional posts on social media, lamenting changes to the village.