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Friday, October 19 News

Darien Boy Scouts’ giant tag sale faces a giant problem

DARIEN — A town tradition is under fire.

With the recent proposal to demolish a Boy Scouts cabin on West Avenue, neighbors have come out against the expanded size as well as a Scouts’ Annual Giant Tag Sale.

The annual event was last held in May and established in 1972.

At a Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing for a proposed 8,000-square-foot cabin Tuesday night several neighbors spoke out against the tag sale in addition to the size of the new building.

William Perrone, a resident with the cabin in his backyard, said no one was questioning the tremendous value of the scouts to the youth. However, he and other neighbors drew concerns around the annual event.

“For two months out of each year we live with what looks like a refugee camp,” Perrone said.

The duration of the setup and breakdown afterward is in violation of the existing permit, he said. Neighbors felt that town officials have turned a blind eye to the abuse of the privilege the scouts’ permit provides.

Joellyn Gray, one of the three trustees for the Andrew Shaw Memorial Trust, said the construction of the new building was important for the Scouts.

“We are doing what FEMA and town regulations wants us to do,” Gray said. “We’re constructing a flood-proof building... and providing a long-lasting home for an important 100-year-old civic institution.”

The neighbors were taken into consideration during the planning, she said. After contacting neighbors the original plans were modified. Waste disposal was relocated to the center of the property and ensured fencing and an extensive border along the edges of the property.

Gray said the scouts are happy to continue to work with neighbors, but the one request that cannot be met is the restriction of the scouts’ annual tag sale.

“This is a major educational event for the scouts,” she said.

The event is also a major fundraiser that provides the operational funds for the scouts. Gray said tag sale is critical because the scouts receive no funding from the town, the state and national boy scouts organizations.

Several neighbors spoke out against the tag sale in addition to the size of the new building.

William Perrone, a resident with the cabin in his backyard, said no one was questioning the tremendous value of the scouts to the youth. However, he and other neighbors drew concerns around the annual event.

“For two months out of each year we live with what looks like a refugee camp,” Perrone said.

The duration of the setup and breakdown afterward is in violation of the existing permit, he said. Neighbors felt that town officials have turned a blind eye to the abuse of the privilege the scouts’ permit provides.

“No other town citizen would be allowed to have temporary structures and tents up for so long,” he said.

Planning and Zoning Chairman John Sini said he realizes the importance of the tag sale, but it doesn’t appear to fit the town’s zoning regulations. The regulation would require the sale to be conducted and resolved within a week. Sini said after hearing testimony from neighbors it doesn’t appear the event even comes close.

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“We’re going to have to hear some really good testimony to why it would fit our zoning regulations,” he said.

The commission also asked for evidence that the intensity use will not grow dramatically even with the increased cabin size.

The public hearing is scheduled to continue on Oct. 23.

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com, 203-842-2568

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