The Georgian-style house, which dates to the time of the American Revolution, was once the home of Hezekiah Meeker, a descendant of Robert Meeker who, at age 6, arrived in 1620 with his brother from England at the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Robert and his brother, William Goldman Meeker, 12 years old at the time, had left their home in Plymouth, England, aboard the "Christian" after their father died.
Today, the structure at 33 Meeker Road -- built sometime around 1790 -- is in disrepair and slated for restoration, but a special permit from the Planning and Zoning Commission is needed before that can take place. Representatives for the property owner went before the commission for a second time last week to seek the permit for the plan that will also include additions to three historic structures on the site.
The proposal was granted approval by the P&Z at the end of the second session.
Detailing the historical significance of the property was Gloria Gouveia, with Westport-based Land Use Consultants.
"It's remarkable it still exists," Gouveia told commission members. In her research, she found that, "over the span of two days in July 1779, a conflagration wrought by General William Tyron and his forces laid to ashes the parishes of Fairfield and Greenfield Hill, destroying at least 85 homes, 55 barns, three churches, a courthouse" and various other buildings. The Meeker home was spared.
The portion of land where the Meeker property is situated was formerly in the parish of Fairfield, she noted.
She said the historic significance of the Meeker House is "amplified by the knowledge that so many local homes of the period were lost 235 years ago, while this symbol of Revolutionary War-era Americana has survived to be preserved for the appreciation of future generations."
At the P&Z's July 10 meeting, Gouveia told commission members the house is the "last of two homesteads of the dynasty of Meekers ... It needs to be preserved."
Bill Achilles of Achilles Architects presented the application at the earlier hearing on behalf of the owners, Scott Rochlin and his wife, who live next door at 31 Meeker Road.
Achilles said the 3-acre property has a main house and three out buildings, including one that was used as a utility shed and another that was a guest house, all of which are "somewhat in disrepair."
He said the goal is to "preserve a portion of the main house," a two-story Georgian-style home. He said a wing had been built on either side of the original structure: one for a garage, the other for a family room and open porch. The wings, he said, would be taken off and building additions would be added.
He said the guest house would be converted into an accessory apartment.
Achilles also told commission members the project would take place on two of the three acres and would "meet all the requirements of a 2-acre parcel."
He said the project already has the approval of other boards, as well as the Westport Historic District Commission, a requirement since the house is more than 50 years old. Read Full Article
One issue raised on the proposal was by commission member, Cathy Walsh, who had concerns about the septic system on the property.
She referred to another project where conditional approval for using a septic system was approved and "it all fell through and the homeowner had to go into sewers."
Walsh said she wants to "make sure the homeowner (on this project) is protected on the septic issue.