Darien Asks to Use Equestrian Facilities on Great Island

The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider allowing the town to utilize the equestrian facilities on Great Island through a special permit application.

Darien Asks to Use Equestrian Facilities on Great Island
A look at the Great Island property in Darien. (Courtesy of Darien)

At this week’s Planning & Zoning Commission, town officials will be asking for a special permit to use the stables and equestrian facilities on Great Island for activities, such as riding lessons and summer camps. The application asks for the ability to rent the facilities to an outside operator who would run the activities.

Jeremy Ginsberg, the town’s director of planning and zoning, told the Board of Selectmen that this special permit would allow the town to get some “very limited use of the stables,” while the community debates and weighs what to do with the rest of the property.

“Enough, in my opinion, to keep it worthwhile to keep the lights running, keep the heat running—it would be quite a shame to leave it vacant and let it get rundown,” he said.

Ginsberg said that the property has 18 stalls for horses, which limits the number of people and lessons on the site at any given time. The application calls for limiting the hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and requiring 15 minutes between activities to not overburden the site.

“We put in a limited three-year request (for the stable operations) because we didn’t expect the Board of Selectmen would want a long-term commitment because you wouldn’t want to hamstring whatever committee you set up,” he said.

Ginsberg said that this application would help “keep everything running until final decisions” about the rest of the property are made.

The Representative Town Meeting voted to approve the $103 million purchase of the 60+ acre property. The town is currently in a “due diligence” period that runs until August 5, which is when the sale will officially become final. First Selectwoman Monica McNally has said that there will be some type of committee set up to discuss and review options for how the town should use the property.

She and Ginsberg emphasized that using the stables would be an interim measure and wouldn’t have any impact on what that committee decides.

“It’s going to be up to whatever committee the Board of Selectmen appoints (to determine) what uses go forward, and then there will be a series of permits and approvals and requests,” Ginsberg said.