A Derby Milford Road resident facing a cease and desist order appealed to the Town Plan & Zoning Commission to allow two large sheds to stay on her property even though she never received the appropriate permits from the town. The application for special exception, permit or use was submitted by Jerome Spector Revocable Trust and Janet Cesanek for the 722 Derby Milford Road property. According to the application, the two accessory structures include a 20’ by 16’ and a second building that is 11.9’ x 24’. The two buildings are nearly double the TPZC’s regulations that permit sheds and accessory buildings to have a maximum height of 15 feet and up to 300 square feet of ground coverage.
Zoning Enforcement Officer Paul Denice issued the cease and desist order to remove the buildings in October following calls from neighbors complaining about the second structure as well as the old car parts, concession stand, ticket booth and Coke machine that clutter the land. The property – at one time a long-running dairy farm – also has an attached garage as well as a barn that TPZC officials describe as nearly the same square footage as the house. “When I began researching the whole thing it came to light that the first building they put up three years ago did not have the proper permits either,” Denice said.
In her statement to the board, Cesanek said her family needs the extra facilities for storage. She said one is used to house a Model A car, auto parts and a motorcycle and the other is used to store grounds keeping tools like rakes, mowers and agricultural supplies.
Several neighbors attended the public hearing to oppose Cesanek’s application, saying the property has become an eyesore for the neighborhood and they fear the owners may also have plans to operate a commercial business like an outdoor movie theater one day. A sign propped against a tree on the yard said it is the future home of “Shady Lane Tree Farm”. Ernest Santoro, who lives across the street from the Cesaneks, said in the six and half years the Cesaneks have lived there the once pristine property has become “unkept and unmaintained”. “In summer the grass grows 3 feet high with junk cars around and it is a blighted eyesore to the neighborhood,” he said. “It has been getting worse and worse over the years. There is a lack of pride of ownership.” Other neighbors fear the disrepair of the Cesanek’s land will adversely impact their property values and may present a health and safety hazard. “There are multiple structures on the property and they are not used for storage,” Julie Lesniak Stertz said.
Cesanek denied any intentions of using the land for commercial means, saying the objects on the property are decorations that the family uses to mark holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day. She explained the neighbors’ statements as the result of “personality conflicts”. “We are the new kids on the block,” she said. “Is there a limit to how much you can own and how much storage you need?”
After hearing comments from Cesanek and the public, TPZC Chairman Ozzie Parente said, “I think the real objection here is that stuff isn’t stored and I don’t know if there would be as strenuous opposition if it actually was. The neighbors are unhappy because it’s sort of sloppy.” While Cesanek says she needs the additional storage, Parente describes the property as already having “a very excessive level of accessory use” with its existing big barn, garage, and two buildings. The board voted to continue the discussion at its February meeting.
By Laura Fantarella – Orange Town News Correspondent