Letter: Proposed Re-Development of Roger Sherman Property Fails To Meet a Need in New Canaan

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The 1-acre zoning law was broken in 2011 for The Maples complex on Oenoke Ridge because of a need for senior housing. That need no longer exists. Empty nesters now have an abundant variety of choices. Andrew Glazer’s application for a planned urban subdivision on the Roger Sherman property should be denied.

Planning & Zoning revised the Plan of Conservation & Development in 2014 to drive density downtown. After exhaustive studies, commissioners, town officials, and residents established plans for a variety of dwellings for seniors as part of the revitalization of Vitti, Cross, Grove, Park, and mixed-use zones downtown.

There is no overarching demand for senior housing now with a huge inventory of unsold smaller houses and condos. Empty nesters can live and walk easily downtown, where zoning is favorable. If Mr. Glazer’s application is approved, a massive subdivision would combine with the adjacent Maples to overwhelm 400 feet of frontage on Oenoke, an uncomfortably high-density development disrupting the semi-rural charm of this historic neighborhood.

This contentious issue forced residents to express their dismay over the prospect of six $2 million cluster houses on 1.6 acres. This would mean each new 2,800 sq. ft., 2 ½-story house with 2-car garage, would sit on ¼ acre…. in a 1-acre zone! Add the new 16-foot-wide road, at least 12 cars, covered porches, and permanent loss of stately trees. The developer did not provide 3D architectural models, but surely the visual density impact would not fit with the semi-rural, historic neighborhood character.

Our town is considered a beautiful oasis in a turbulent world. Our elders put thoughtful zoning regs in place to protect it. To break zoning sets a terrible precedent. It opens up the barn door.

This is key: the Roger Sherman property is in the 1-acre zone. It is not “in town”— it is beyond the 750 yards. Our first selectman says he “relies on P&Z and citizens to control development.” As citizens, we need to become informed and to speak. Mr. Glazer’s project is too intensive, too massive, for the “Next Station to Heaven.”

P&Z has been wrestling with contentious issues requiring time and thoughtful study: the Merritt Village apartments, Grace Farms, Silver Hill, cluster houses on Oenoke. This pressure may possibly excuse a commissioner’s lapse around 11:00pm at the stressful February P&Z hearing. When asked, “for or against?” he opined in favor, saying, “The comments I find most persuasive are from the immediate neighbors on the two opposite sides of the Roger Sherman…[who] are strongly in favor of this project…The neighbors’ voice should be listened to. Not the people who don’t live around there.” Alas, he referenced Maples residents to the south, and a recused fellow commissioner/neighbor to the north, but he never mentioned the dissenting immediate neighbors, on adjacent Holmewood Lane, whose attorney advocated for them against the building application at every P&Z hearing from October through January. Even though represented by legal counsel, these immediate neighbors protesting the proposal were never mentioned.

The public entrusts the Commission to safeguard our interests. The Commissioners are the gatekeepers. We do not need to break zoning for a massive density development inappropriate for Oenoke Ridge. Deny it.

Jane Vanderzee

6 thoughts on “Letter: Proposed Re-Development of Roger Sherman Property Fails To Meet a Need in New Canaan

  1. I think this is one of the most thoughtful and convincing opinions I’ve seen on this issue. Well stated, clearly written and with facts. Thank you Ms. Vanderzee.

  2. Wonderful – well written – thoughtful.

    P&Z – please say NO to the re-development of the Roger Sherman Inn. You can do it — you can say NO (for once) to a developer.

    Separately, has anyone heard the rumor that there are developers currently willing to buy the property who would be happy to continue operating the restaurant?

  3. This remarkable letter brings startling clarity and the force of undeniable truth to this discussion. It is a clarion call to all of us who love this town.

  4. Perfectly said and expressed Jane. We entrust upon our elected officials to not let something like this happen. To break zoning does set a terrible precedent and something as residents, we can’t let happen to another piece of cherished New Canaan real estate.

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