New Canaan Woman Calls for More Robust, Objective Criteria in Evaluating Appointees for Town Boards, Commissions

Saying New Canaan must apply more rigorous and objective criteria in vetting residents who offer to volunteer on key boards and commissions, a town woman on Tuesday offered to help create more useful standards for evaluation. Andrea Sandor told members of the Board of Selectmen at their regular meeting that decisions made by groups such as the Planning & Zoning Commission “affect millions and millions of dollars of assets.”

“They affect the whole look of the town,” Sandor said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “P&Z is probably the most important to take a look at in terms of criteria because they have such an impact on neighbors, on residents, on the look and feel of the town. They are one of the key [agencies] but yet the townspeople have little control over P&Z.”

Her comments came as the the board—First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kit Devereaux and Nick Williams—voted unanimously to reappoint three regular and three alternate members of P&Z to three- and two-year terms, respectively: Jean Grzelecki, Kent Turner and Dick Ward, as well as John Kriz, Krista Neilson and Claire Tiscornia. Sandor criticized the current process as overly lax.

Police Respond to Town Hall after New Canaan Woman Berates, Threatens Municipal Worker

A New Canaan woman threatened a Planning & Zoning worker at Town Hall last week, unleashing a profanity-laden tirade that prompted a formal warning from police. At about 12:20 p.m. on Jan. 4, town resident Andrea Sandor, 59, accosted an assistant zoning enforcement officer at the Land Use counter in the lower level of the newly renovated and expanded public building at 77 Main St., according to documents obtained by through a Freedom of Information request. She started by asking questions regarding the burial site at Merritt Apartments and, when the Town Hall worker told her that he couldn’t go into another employee’s emails to retrieve information he did not have at hand, she said, “Of course you don’t because you’re a moron,” according to an incident summary from the victim. As the worker stepped away from the counter, Sandor said again, “That’s right you are a moron,” according to the summary.

At Public Hearing, Locals Agree That Norway Maple at Town Hall Should Come Down

Though New Canaan’s tree warden hasn’t yet made a formal decision, and opinions range on what landscaping is best long-term for the front lawn of the renovated and expanded Town Hall, the consensus among those attending a public hearing Tuesday night regarding the Norway maple tree there—including a town woman who originally had objected to the tree’s removal—was to take it down. Tree Warden Bruce Pauley’s idea of removing the Norway maple and planting a sugar maple on either side of the main path up to Town Hall appeals to Dave Hunt, a town resident for nearly 40 years and one of more than 50 people who attended the hearing. Hunt said his first reaction on hearing that the Norway maple was slated for removal was that he hates to lose a big old tree, “same as in my yard.”

“But then I think about [how] we have this quintessential town, and we saved the façade of Town Hall—we really did all the right things, in my mind, to keep that perfect little New England community—and the idea of putting in quintessential New England trees like two sugar maples just seems to fit that to a tee,” Hunt said at the hearing, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department. “Especially given what I am hearing tonight about the issues with this tree.”

Those issues—outlined mostly by New Canaan’s Andrea Sandor, whose objection to Pauley’s posting had prompted the hearing—include that the tree is non-native, appears to be brittle and breaking and has suffered from soil compaction. “The tree has to be taken down—it is hazardous,” Sandor said, citing the “structural opinion” of a master arborist she had retained.

Public Hearing on Norway Maple Tree at Town Hall Scheduled for June 2

Prompted by a request from a town resident, New Canaan’s tree warden has scheduled a public hearing regarding the widely discussed Norway maple out front of the recently renovated and expanded Town Hall. Tree Warden Bruce Pauley said the hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2 in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department. “In accordance with Sec. 23-59 of the CT State Statutes, anyone may voice their concerns, objections, and/or other grievances regarding this, and only this, tree,” Pauley said in a public notice. “All those persons wishing to be heard on this issue are invited to attend and let their thoughts be heard.”

The Norway maple, a non-native species that Pauley has described as “breaking up” and which used to have a companion tree on the north side of the main walkway on the front lawn of Town Hall, made headlines last month when town resident Andrea Sandor objected to the tree warden’s tagging it for removal.

With Wide Community Support, Tree Warden Re-Posts Norway Maple at Town Hall for Removal

Saying he’s “overwhelmed” by the community support for his original decision to remove a brittle Norway maple from the front of Town Hall and replace it with sugar maples on either side of the main walkway up to the renovated building, New Canaan Tree Warden Bruce Pauley on Tuesday afternoon re-posted the tree for removal. When news spread that a resident’s complaint had prompted Pauley to “un-post” the non-native tree—in other words, leave it be, instead of planting what he called the “quintessential New England tree” instead—locals in comment threads on New Canaanite and on Facebook voiced support for the tree warden. At first, Pauley said, he was surprised by the response, “but the more I thought about it, the less surprised I am, because I know how strongly people feel about trees in New Canaan.”

“And I am happy for that,” said the tree warden, a fourth-generation New Canaanite and 1964 NCHS graduate. “But I was overwhelmed with the amount of support that I saw. Secondly, it was very gratifying to see people who I have worked for over the years and to hear their comments.