Government

We’re writing not only about those municipal bodies that all local media outlets cover—New Canaan Board of Selectmen, Town Council, Department of Public Works—but also the Public Tree Board, Traffic-Calming Work Group, Parking Commission and Park & Recreation Commission.

Recent Articles

Board of Finance to Keep 2 Percent Budget Increase as ‘Strong Guideline’ for Town Departments

Members of the Board of Finance on Tuesday night discussed the effectiveness of an October memo instructing all departments to present their budget proposals for next fiscal year with no more than a 2 percent budget increase, especially in light of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi last week opened Board of Education budget talks with a request for a 3.5 percent increase. Finance board member Colleen Baldwin said during the group’s regular meeting that while there were discussions before the memo was sent about making the 2 percent a “hard number,” the idea was eventually scrapped “for this very reason.”

Instead, she said that the number was “put out as a starting discussion” with a strong suggestion that the budgets should be presented with “no more than 2 percent.”

But member Thomas Schulte questioned whether the departments are taking the memo seriously enough, considering the financials challenges that the both the town and the state are facing in the coming years and urged the board to bring up these concerns at department meetings. “We tried to do our best to share with them the concerns that we had,” he said at the meeting, held at Town Hall. “I think that the world is very different. It is a more expensive one for people to pay their state and local taxes [in]…and we can’t ignore that, and I think [in terms of] real world budgeting, all of the departments need to be aware of that—whether they’re halfway or all the way through creating their budgets. Continue Reading →

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Divided Parking Commission Votes 2-1 To Void New Canaan Man’s $25 Ticket

A New Canaan man last week got out of a $25 parking ticket after telling officials that he had been mistakenly targeted by enforcement officers downtown. Peter McAleer told members of the Parking Commission during their regular meeting that he pays tickets when he’s in the wrong. Yet on the day in question, according to McAleer, he parked in his accustomed spot on Pine Street, where he works, at about 7 a.m. and stayed until 11 a.m., when he went to Stamford for a haircut and lunch. He returned at 12 p.m. and was parked back on Pine Street for about 10 minutes when he was issued a ticket for overtime parking. According to McAleer, the enforcement officer assumed, wrongly, that he’d been parked continuously in the same spot for the entire morning and into the afternoon. Continue Reading →

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Schools Superintendent: District Needs Alternative Program ‘With an Identity’ to Keep Students in New Canaan

When Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi presented a subcommittee of New Canaan’s legislative body with details of a proposal to create an “alternative high school” program for students with specific health challenges in New Canaan last week, a significant portion of the discussion focused on whether the former Outback building behind Town Hall would be a suitable location for the program. Other factors deemed equally—if not more—important were also addressed, including the short- and long-term effects of the program on the educational and emotional wellbeing of New Canaan’s students. Luizzi and Assistant Superintendent of Pupil and Family Services Darlene Pianka outlined their vision for a program that would replace New Canaan High School’s current Afternoon Instruction Program, or ‘AIP,’ which is held in the school’s media center. AIP is currently only available to four to 10 upperclassmen at a time, while Luizzi’s proposal will potentially provide flexible academic instruction for six to 12 students in grades 8-12 based on their educational and therapeutic needs. Over the past year, Luizzi and Pianka have been visiting both public and private alternative programs for teens throughout Fairfield County—some of which have accepted New Canaan students into its programs— and they shared a few of their observations with the subcommittee. Continue Reading →

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Grace Farms Seeks Changes in Re-Filed P&Z Application; Neighbor’s ‘Conflict of Interest’ Claim Targets Chairman

As its resubmitted application goes before the Planning & Zoning Commission this week, Grace Farms is seeking to redefine parts of the town’s approval in ways that would allow for more people than the town body had envisioned on its vast campus. A key piece of P&Z’s heavily conditioned September approval calls for Grace Farms to limit how many times it may have large numbers of people on its site—for example, one condition specifies that it may have 500 to 1,200 people on the site no more than six days per year. In a proposed rewrite of those conditions, Grace Farms is seeking to apply those limits to guests at specific events, rather than total people on site. As such, those visiting Grace Farms for reasons not tied to the events—for example, to walk the property, view its celebrated River Building, eat lunch in its cafeteria, work in the library or sip tea—would not count toward the limit. The changes would “clarify” that P&Z’s limits apply “to identified/planned events, as intended, and not to non-event daily usage by church or Foundation staff, or general public visits, which are monitored by the availability of parking on site,” according to Grace Farms’s proposed changes. Continue Reading →

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Parking Commission Upholds $50 Ticket for Darien Woman Who Parked the Wrong Way on Elm Street

Parking officials last week voted unanimously to uphold a $50 ticket issued to a Darien woman who had parked the wrong way on Elm Street. The appellant, Janet Cling, told members of the Parking Commission at their regular meeting that she was in New Canaan with a newborn in the car on Dec. 11 (a Monday) when she pulled off of Park Street into the Starbucks lot and then continued into the last row of diagonal spaces on Elm Street. “We were just really quickly running into the Whitney Shop to pick up an ornament that my mother-in-law had ordered for her [the baby], personalized,” Cling told commissioners at their Jan. 11 meeting, held at Town Hall. Continue Reading →

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