I want to clarify some of the statements that have been made regarding our possible appeal of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s rejection of our plans for the Roger Sherman.
As I have written before, I went to contract on the Roger Sherman with the understanding and support from commission members and the town planner for the project. The contract I signed was non-contingent on zoning approval, meaning my money was at risk if I was turned down. The owners who had been trying to sell for over four years and were tired of trying to maintain a tough business and infrastructure wanted to move on. They priced it at the highest and best use, which was housing.
I won’t go into my issues on why I assumed this plan would be approved, as that has been part of the record and well known.
My contract was up in February, but we continued the zoning process as the owners and I felt that we would work out something with zoning and would get approval. Further, if I could not get approval the value of their property would be far less since you would be relegated to either the same business or one lot.
With all the furor over the loss of the Roger Sherman, no one in New Canaan stepped up to save it by purchasing and restoring as I have done with the Silvermine Tavern.
The rejection of my plan by the Planning & Zoning Commission cried out for appeal since the reasons given were clearly appealable in court and I have a very good chance of winning. The memo of disapproval was a factual travesty and railroaded by a commission who clearly only responds to threats of affordable housing for their approval bar—something that I would never do.
Once we received the rejection, Nes Jaffre decided that she wanted to revitalize the inn if possible. A noble but daunting task given that nothing has changed since they tried to see the business prior.
Be clear: At this point I am nothing more than the applicant and not the contract holder. If I am unable to convince the Jaffres that an appeal will cost them nothing and it is their choice whether to accept if upheld then I will not be successful. What they don’t seem to understand is that our appeal is their last chance to retain any sense of the value of the property that I was going to pay.
It will also let a commission, town attorney and a town planner get away with using this project to appease all those who felt they had caved on the Maple Street project and needed to show their strength in terms of developers.
The notice of appeal which was served by the marshal and which is within the required time limits is a placeholder for an appeal and not an actual one. That would take within a couple of weeks when we would file with the court.
I will be required to convince the owners that their interests are served either way by taking the appeal. But the only way to maintain any chance for achieving the value of their property as they see its worth will be to get this appeal filed and win.
I have invested significant funds into this project, which I will lose, and that’s part of the business. I will also bear the cost of this court effort but I believe for many reasons that have been stated that the commission was irresponsible and incorrect in their rejection and the owners and I would look to the courts to uphold the right to develop as stated in the Zoning regulations.