Loud, loud party at Norwich House is part of venue dispute
September 23 – NORWICH – Residents of the quiet Mediterranean Lane neighborhood in Norwichtown began to worry as soon as they saw a giant event tent pitch up and delivery trucks arrive at 138 Mediterranean Lane last Friday.
On Saturday the cars arrived. When the driveway and lawn of the house filled up, they parked along the streets and in a neighbor’s yard. The noise shook the neighborhoods. Police received three complaints about parking on the narrow country lane and more noise on Saturday.
“We had to close our windows on a beautiful evening, turn on the air conditioning and the house was still vibrating,” Polly Whitley-Miner wrote to Zoning Enforcement Officer Richard Shuck on Sunday. “I didn’t report the volume because I saw two police cars driving up the road at around 5 pm, and I was hoping the police would recheck.”
The next morning the road was covered with “a kind of shiny spill” and the area was littered with trash, she wrote in the email.
This wasn’t a wedding or a backyard family event, but one of the many events hosted by owner Renaissance Quest LLC, who bought the home last November. Using the home as an event venue violates the city’s zoning regulations for the single-family residential neighborhood, city officials said.
It’s also part of a nearly decade-long regulatory and legal battle between the city and the director of Renaissance Quest LLC, Huey “Natalie” Min Lee. The city filed a civil lawsuit in June in New London Superior Court against Lee’s activities at 138 Mediterranean Lane, Mount Crescent House at 270 Broadway, and the Lathrop Manor bed and breakfast at 380 Washington St.
All three properties are being advertised online as event venues and short-term rental venues, city officials said, in violation of zoning regulations. The city is seeking a court injunction to end its activities at the three properties.
Lee did not file an appearance in the civil action, and the court granted the city’s motion on September 14 to declare her in default for failure to appear. A decision on the injunction request is pending.
“This is for commercial use in a residential area,” said John Paul Mereen, longtime resident of Mediterranean Lane and former city councilor. “This sort of thing cannot continue. Other sites in Southeast Connecticut have permits and are following the rules. It shouldn’t be treated any differently.”
Mereen said a delivery truck driver yelled and swore at a neighbor to “get the (curse) off the road.” Mereen said residents frequently walk their dogs and children along the narrow, winding streets of what was a quiet area off historic Norwichtown Green.
“And now this shit,” Mereen said.
Stuart Peil, who lives across the street from the site, said he called the police around 5 p.m. Saturday, as two cars were parked in his yard. The police rectified the situation, he said. He called three more times later when the loud music continued to vibrate his house, “and I’m 300 meters away,” he said.
“It’s unpleasant,” Peil said. “It is only about one day a month, but nonetheless it is very unpleasant, and it is a violation of our peace and quiet in a residential area. We would expect that in a residential area, we would not. shouldn’t have to listen to the sounds of a commercial place. “
Peil and Whitley-Miner said last weekend’s event was “by far” the biggest and loudest to date at 138 Mediterranean Lane since spring.
“It’s such a quiet area, it really affects the quality of life for the neighbors here, with these events going on,” Whitley-Miner said. “And Mediterranean Lane is so small that it cannot handle this volume of traffic.”
Other neighbors complained that there were golf carts driving on Wightman Avenue.
Lee could not be reached for comment on Mediterranean Lane’s complaints.
Lee defied city cease and desist orders at all three sites. She erected signs warning municipal authorities not to approach her properties.
“PRIVATE PROPERTY NO Trespassing” reads the sign. “Notice to officials with low IQs. You enter my property, and if you do not leave after reading this notice, criminal trespassing charges will be filed against both the agency you represent and you as a individual. GOODS. “
In May, Lee filed an Freedom of Information request for documents, including oaths of office records and bonds for city council members, planning and zoning officials, city police and firefighters, Norwich Utilities and Uncas Health District officials. She complained that city officials entered her property “without my permission” in response to the complaints.
Since May 3, the city’s zoning office has received 13 complaints – some with multiple complainants – regarding 138 Mediterranean Lane. The office received 24 complaints about Mount Crescent House at 270 Broadway.
The city issued a cease and desist order to Lee for Mount Crescent House on February 3, 2020, another on November 16, 2020 for Lathrop Manor at 380 Washington St. And on May 10, 2021, the city issued an order of cessation and abstention. drive on 138 Mediterranean lane.
Although Lathrop Manor is licensed as a bed and breakfast, municipal bylaws require it to be owner occupied. The city lawsuit alleged Lee advertised Lathrop Manor for events for up to 50 people and Mount Crescent House and Mediterranean Lane for up to 200 people each.
Lee received approval from the City Plan Commission for a bed and breakfast at Mount Crescent House, but never obtained final zoning permits. She rejected fire safety orders for the sprinklers which she said would ruin the historic character of the Italian-style mansion. The guest room must also be occupied by its owner.
The city lawsuit said: “The defendants have caused and continue to cause loud noises, music and noise pollution from the properties at 138 Mediterranean Lane and 380 Washington Street at all hours of the day and the day. night; tents must be erected, including without inspection or permits, in violation of safety standards, building codes and fire prevention; and traffic jams and cars parked to obstruct the roadways in areas surrounding the property, thus preventing traffic and emergency response vehicles. ”
Lee had filed a federal complaint in 2018 against the city and several city officials. Judge Kari A. Dooley ruled in favor of the city and dismissed a series of requests from Lee to replace the judge, move to another court and reconsider the decision.