Neighbor files suit to block Fairfield Woods Middle School expansion
Published 2:32 pm, Thursday, December 30, 2010
An "aggressive" work schedule and construction of a school auditorium just outside his bedroom windows is getting a failing grade from a neighbor of Fairfield Woods Middle School, who wants the school's expansion stopped while he appeals the zoning decision that allowed the project to proceed.
Mark Corcoran, who lives at 1213 Fairfield Woods Road, has filed an appeal as well as a request for a temporary injunction. The injunction request is scheduled to be heard Jan. 18 in Bridgeport Superior Court.
In the request for the temporary injunction, Corcoran's lawyer, Heather Brown, asserts there is a "reasonable probability of success on the merits of the appeal."
Town Attorney Richard Saxl, however, thinks otherwise.
"I think Mr. Corcoran is going to spend a lot of money on legal fees and, at the end of the day, the town is going to build the project," Saxl said.
Corcoran bought his house next to an existing school, Saxl said, and all of the town's boards have approved the expansion project. "You have to balance Mr. Corcoran's right to use his property versus affecting literally thousands of children. I don't believe a court is going to rule in his favor."
The Town Plan and Zoning Commission on Dec. 14 amended its regulations to allow the town to expand lot coverage and approved a special exception to make the alterations and additions to Fairfield Woods.
Corcoran's appeal cites a proposed 600-seat auditorium and expanded parking lot that town officials have said was "nice to have," but not a necessity, and the Project Adventure structure that was removed to make way for that parking lot expansion.
"When walking or driving along Fairfield Woods Road, along the perimeter of the school property and the contiguous Fairfield Woods Branch Library, one is struck by the perimeter `paved' jungle with inefficient egress and ingress and little or no grassy areas, save for the athletic fields on the Fairfield Woods Middle School property," Corcoran's appeal states. "There is no need, special or otherwise, to justify the construction of a new auditorium and attendant lot."
The appeal also claims the application to PZC is inconsistent with the town's Plan of Conservation and Development because it increases rather than reduces density in residential areas; constitutes an attempt to `spot zone"; and it "destroys whatever limited green buffer" exists between his house and the existing school and library.
Corcoran also states that the PZC failed to consider whether the expansion was driven by a desire to maximize buildable square footage on property the town already owned rather than find other town property for another middle school. If the auditorium and expanded parking lot were not built, Corcoran "would not have been aggrieved by the alterations and additions to the school."
School is expected to remain in session during the construction, leaving the noisiest work to be done, according to Corcoran, when he is likely to be sleeping or home from work.
When the work is done, he said windows on two sides of his house will face the newly expanded lot and 3,850 square feet of auditorium walls. The appeal states "there is no landscape design which can reasonably mitigate the impact" on Corcoran's property. Instead, every day school buses, cars, and pedestrians will be just 25 feet from his bedroom, living room and home office windows, and every evening the expanded lot is used, he will have to contend with headlights from the cars.
The new auditorium's glass foyer, according to the appeal, when illuminated at night "would present an immensely distracting and obstructive focal point in many windows" of Corcoran's house.