Letter: Grace Farms ‘A Distinctive New Canaan Place’

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Dear Editor:

The churches of New Canaan are a big part of what gives this town its character, its identity, its heritage, its hope and its future. God’s Acre may be our single most identifiable landmark.

To that end, I am writing to you about Grace Farms, which is the home of Grace Community Church. I am a board member of Grace Farms Foundation and president of the planning team for Grace Community Church.

Grace Community Church started 15 years ago here in New Canaan. In fact, it was our own backyard that held the first church service. It says a lot about New Canaan that a grassroots movement like this can start in such modest ways and soon grow to a following of over 700 folks. Our church cares deeply about the community of New Canaan, the people who live here and the perpetual efforts put forth to make it a better place for our neighbors and our children.

I also wanted to express the important work Grace Farms Foundation is doing in the New Canaan area.

Within the New Canaan area, Grace Farms Foundation has provided a home for Grace Community Church, allowing us to operate without the burdensome financial restrictions from things like rent appreciation to mortgage maintenance, and so on. This allows us the freedom to do what churches are meant to do: change lives, comfort the sick, feed the hungry, help folks find their meaning and actively advance charity throughout the world.

Two years ago, Conde Nast moved our office to the World Trade Center. Each day I walk by the 9/11 memorial. It is a spiritual place, and I find fascinating the tremendous sanctity it holds. Grace Farms is such a place. It is a powerful environment for bringing people together by fostering new ideas, building community and creating a distinctive New Canaan place. Grace Farms Foundation can add a peaceful energy to the town. It can be a new type of God’s Acre.

Thank you very much.

Peter King Hunsinger, New Canaan

One thought on “Letter: Grace Farms ‘A Distinctive New Canaan Place’

  1. Like many recent “pro-Grace” letters, Mr. Hunsinger does not address any of the matters that are before P&Z.
    As the Foundation’s principals represented in 2012 and 2013, the 48 acre parcel upon which the River Building sits was to be used for Grace Community Church. The neighbors welcomed Grace Community Church to the neighborhood. The church is undoubtedly an asset to the community.
    No one, except perhaps Grace Farms Foundation, can force Grace Community Church out of its home at 365 Lukes Wood Road. Only as part of its current application process has it come to light that the church’s license to operate there is limited and revocable by the Foundation.
    In response to extensive questioning by P&Z in 2012 and 2013, the principals stated that the Foundation activities would be devoted to supporting Grace Community Church. A review of the transcripts and tapes of the hearings available on the Grace Farms Hub makes this clear. Even after acknowledging that the property was “way too big” for just a church, they stuck to the message that it was just about the church. Discussion of a greater role for the Foundation at that time may have jeopardized their ability get approval to build the project. The project was approved and permitted solely as a religious institution.
    But as soon as the facility opened, as the links to Fall 2015 articles in the Grace Farms Hub show, the Foundation principals began claiming that “It is not a church.” The Foundation then vastly expanded operations beyond what their permit allowed and beyond anything that might be associated with a church. The Foundation repeatedly and consistently violated zoning rules in doing so.
    Grace Farms was supposed to be all about Grace Community Church. The current application seeks to strip Grace Community Church of its primary role at the site. That should not be allowed.

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