Zoning officer has ordered Sam Bridge Nursery to end its landscaping business. If he's effective, that will make the nursery unprofitable, the land on North Street will be subdivided, and the neighbor who has been waging war on the nursery's owners since he moved next to it will end up with 20 neighbors. That's a suitable fate for the asshole, but does the town really need a new subdivision, especially one on land that's been in the same family for 300 years?
The Bridge/Reynolds farm has been an integral part of Greenwich since 1715—the complaining arriviste on Birch Lane maybe ten, and he'll be gone before too long, off to Florida or back to Manhattan. It would be a terrible thing were we to let him despoil the neighborhood and then flee.
Sam Bridge Nursery & Greenhouses is a third generation family business that has been operating in the town of Greenwich, CT for 87 years. Due to excessive pressure from a new neighbor, we were issued a cease and desist order from the town of Greenwich Zoning Enforcement Officer. The cease and desist order states that we have a "Landscaping Business Being Run Out of a Permitted Nursery."
According to the town's municipal code book (Division 2, Section 6-5 (11)), a commercial nursery shall mean a place where trees and other plants are grown for sale. Currently, the town does not have a definition for a landscaping business in the municipal code book. Although we find the Zoning Enforcement Officer to be a reasonable person, we believe that his interpretation of the town municipal code for nurseries is incorrect. We also believe that the current land use definition for nurseries, written in the 1940s, is vague and outdated. We will be asking the Zoning Board of Appeals to overturn Mr. Couture's decision and/or to amend our special exception to include landscaping.
When our father started this business in 1930, his business model was to grow and sell plants, plant related products, and services. In 1956 he moved his business from Doubling Road to its present location at 437 North Street. This property has been in our mother's family (Reynolds) for over 300 years and has always been a farm. The nursery and greenhouse business is considered farming; we operate under the Right to Farm Law and our property is assessed as farmland (PA490). Our family would like to keep this property as farmland rather than subdividing into house lots.
As part of running a nursery, we offer landscape design, installation, and garden maintenance services. These services are and have been an important aspect of selling the plants that we grow. These services also include many community outreach and special projects, several that we do free of charge for the town of Greenwich. Some of which are: planting and maintaining traffic islands, planting trees along public roads, growing and hanging the town baskets on Greenwich Avenue and the Post Road. We also work extensively with local community gardens, school groups, and non-profits. We do not cut grass, blow leaves, snow plow, perform masonry, and install lighting and irrigation or other services you would expect from a typical landscape company. We would like to ask for your support to help us overturn the zoning enforcement officer's decision and/or to amend the special exception for Sam Bridge Nursery & Greenhouses to include landscaping.
We, the undersigned ask the Town of Greenwich Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals to overturn the zoning enforcement officer's decision to issue a cease and desist of our landscape services and/or to amend the special exception for Sam Bridge Nursery & Greenhouses to include landscaping.
Petition here. Tell P&Z to back off, and instruct the Birch Lane neighbor to - well, something probably physically impossible.
UPDATE: The complaining neighbor is Birch Lane resident Mike McLaughlin, who has been harassing the Bridges for several years now. In 2014, after living at 124 Birch Lane for a number of years, McLaughlin sold that house and bought a lot across the street, directly on the border of the Nursery, and built a new, 5 bedroom, 7 bathroom home. He's been whining ever since, despite knowing exactly what, and where he was buying.
UPDATE II: readers report that Mclauglin's wife Debra is the president of the Junior League—how precious.
UPDATE III: some excellent suggestions on how to handle this from the comments section, including placing chicken coops, with roosters, right on the property line, and Gil proposes a pig sty - ever smell a pig sty? Soooeee! But perhaps some readers have gone too far in claiming that McLaughlin is unfit to eat with pigs. I'll defend him on that: I say he is. And his Junior League wife.
UPDATE IV: An email from a reader and Birch Lane resident:
Please don't use my name if you should choose to write about this, I prefer to stay out of any neighborhood drama although for the record I will be signing this petition publicly -- I hate to see a family run business that has become a Greenwich landmark and is well entrenched in the community be threatened.