Letter: Forest Street Proposal Would Harm Downtown New Canaan Character

To the editor:

I attended the Nov. 1 Planning & Zoning Commission meeting because I was interested in the discussion concerning a proposed Zoning Regulation Amendment for 42 Forest St.

The applicant seeks approval to amend Zoning Regulation regarding Business Zone, Area and Dimensional Requirements, Maximum Building Heights and Special Provisions for Business Zones, Yard Exceptions of the Regulations. The owner also requests a Site Plan Approval and a Special Permit Approval in order to permit the construction of a mixed-use development containing approximately 1,300 s.f. of commercial space and seven residential condominium units with associated parking, landscaping and utility improvements in the Retail B Zone

During the public comments period, I spoke about the proposed building next to our new post office. I feel that the proposed building is out if character in our town. First, I feel the proposed height is a problem. The height scale of Elm Street is what gives a true village feeling to our town has been in place for generations. Second, the proposed area for parking (cutting into the sidewalk) lacks proper setbacks for pedestrians.

The best example of very poor town planning is the “looming buildings” proposed and built in town with narrow sidewalks. The new building on Park Street next to the old Post Office is an excellent example of this. That building is pushed to the street for maximum developer profit. For pedestrians, however, it is the least friendly design. Yet another disaster of recent P&Z doing.

I just returned from South Hampton, N.Y. A few things struck me. Like our town it has expensive real estate coming right up to the commercial district. It has a consistent scale like our Elm Street throughout the village. However, it has “wide” sidewalks as part of their pedestrian-friendly plan. This makes perfect sense.

Why go backwards? Plan for our future as a pedestrian-friendly and well-designed village of scale for our relatively consistent population.

Jack Trifero

2 thoughts on “Letter: Forest Street Proposal Would Harm Downtown New Canaan Character

  1. Hear! Hear! Well said, Jack.
    However, as long as our P+Z Commission grants these amendments to our present zoning regulations regarding Maximum Height, Yard Exceptions, and Special Permit Approval, this trend will continue until the charm of New Canaan that drew us here will slowly fade into a distant memory.

  2. Seems like you’re neglecting Main Street, which is a significant part of downtown New Canaan. Much of Main Street is three stories and no one seems to be complaining about loom there. In fact it’s part of the character of this town. This Forest Street project has similar sidewalk widths to much of Elm and Main Streets. So does the new Park Street building. This project seems to mimic the downtown area and it seems to capture elements found and cherished here. Is it really about character, or is it just perceptions and a dislike for anything new?

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