125 Riverside Ave. / Town of Westport photo
125 Riverside Ave. / Town of Westport photo

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — The future of one of the town’s oldest houses appears in flux.

The owners of a 1756 house along the Saugatuck River ­­­— a structure older than the nation itself — are seeking to add another house to the property through a text amendment to the zoning regulations.

Whether that means the historic house at 125 Riverside Ave. would survive or be lost to other scenarios presented by the applicant, Rick Constantini of FLB Law, remains to be seen.

The 0.42-acre property, according to land records, is owned by the Nancy Richmond Coley Estate and Andrew F. Coley. It sits roughly across Riverside Avenue from Assumption Church and Burr Road, on the west bank of the Saugatuck River.

An application filed with the Planning and Zoning Commission seeks a text amendment to zoning regulations, more specifically the Historic Residential Structure regulation 32-18.

“Under the current regulations, the owner would be permitted to demolish the existing structure and construct a new residence with a 2,698-square-foot footprint,” the application states.

125 Riverside keeping historic house and adding another.
125 Riverside: Keeping the historic house, left, and adding another.

“The proposed text amendment would give the owner of the Subject Property … a new vacant lot with no historic residential structure. Under this scenario, the owner would be able to preserve the existing home while also developing a new lot.”

A “Lot Scenario Demonstration” document filed with the Planning and Zoning Commission shows what the property might look like under various scenarios, including the proposed text amendment. They include the existing house plus a new one with an accessory dwelling unit, and what a whole new construction might look like with the historic house gone.

The town’s Historic Resource Inventory states the house was built in 1756. It is in the Riverside Avenue Historic District.

The application is not yet listed on an agenda for the Planning and Zoning Commission, which meets next on Jan. 22.

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 35 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.