P&Z Votes 7-1 To Approve Downtown Pocket Park as Site of Summer Theatre of New Canaan 2019 Season

Saying they understood it was a risk in some ways and imposing several conditions to help mitigate them, members of the Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday night voted 7-1 to approve the Summer Theatre of New Canaan’s application to set up for its 2019 season in a pocket park downtown. Summer Theatre, or ‘STONC,’ will set up its 60-by-90-foot amphitheater-style tent on a .19-acre parcel known as “Christine’s Garden” on the corner of South Avenue and Maple Street, owned by New Canaan Library. 

P&Z Chairman John Goodwin said he recognized that STONC’s plan, which includes locating the 200-person tent as well as trailers, port-o-potties, and a covered box office on and around the library property, with parking to be located in the Center School lot, was “aggressive.”

“And I would also argue that we allow certain other activities in certain other places in town where we are giving them a fair amount of latitude,” Goodwin said during the public hearing, held at Town Hall. “This is not the first time. But I also feel that this is potentially a big positive to the town by moving it downtown. If it logistically works, I think it’s way better than it is out in Waveny.

‘Not Only Ugly But Unnecessary’: P&Z Critical of Sign Proposed for South Avenue Doctor’s Office

Though a conspicuous South Avenue property has seen significant improvements since a local doctor acquired it for his medical practice, town officials this week voiced criticism for a sign proposed for its front yard. 

New England Healthcare LLC, owned by family medicine practitioner and longtime New Canaan resident Dr. David Dayya has done a “really nice job” with the doctor’s offices at South Avenue and Oak Street and “super” work in addressing what had been traffic problems under past occupants of the two-story building there, Planning & Zoning Commissioner Bill Redman said Tuesday night. Yet an approximately seven-foot-high, cedar post sign proposed for the front yard 194 South Ave. is “a really ugly sign,” Redman said. “It’s huge,” he said during P&Z’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “I have been up and down South Avenue.

P&Z: Grace Farms ‘Auction Items’ Events May Violate Conditions of Approval

Town officials on Tuesday are expected to decide whether Grace Farms may host a dozen events planned as auction items for the organization’s annual fundraiser in October. In approving Grace Farms for its amended Special Permit last year, the Planning & Zoning Commission specified that the Lukes Wood Road organization may not host so-called “Sustainability Events,” where space is used by commercial entities to generate revenue. Yet raising funds by auctioning off specific events at Grace Farms—planned events include cooking, baking, cocktail, March Madness and college football parties—may amount to the same thing, meaning they would be prohibited under the approved permit, P&Z members said at their most recent meeting. “This sounds like the equivalent of renting the property out for a kids’ dinner, kids’ party and everything else, except that it’s through a charity,” Commissioner John Kriz said at P&Z’s July 31 meeting, held at Town Hall. “Somehow that is stressing more of a distinction than a difference.

Officials: New Canaan Needs More Formal Way To Review Architecture of Proposed Building Projects Downtown

Saying that guidelines for maintaining and enhancing the village feel of downtown New Canaan need more teeth, planning officials are seeking a more formal way to review the architecture, scale and materials of proposed building projects in the business district. Members of a Planning & Zoning Commission subcommittee said at their most recent meeting that New Canaan must find a better way to ensure adherence to a 27-page document created in 2010 called the ‘Village District Design Guidelines.’

Though P&Z created that document, “we never put a tight set of regulations around it,” Jean Grzelecki of the Plan of Conservation & Development Implementation Committee said at the group’s most recent meeting. “We have a design manual which is something we recommend that everybody follows, and maybe we could strengthen that by adding it a as a special permit to the business district,” she said at the Nov. 28 meeting, held in Town Hall. “Some reasonable adherence to the design manual, because everyone once in a while we get some very strange-looking stuff.

Did You Hear … ?

The gallery for this week’s “Did You Hear … ?” features interior photos from rental units at the newly built mixed-use building at 16 Cross St. in New Canaan, “The Crossing.”

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The Town Council on Wednesday night voted 12-0 in favor of an operating budget of $148,136,106 for fiscal year 2018. The overall figure and amount allocated to the Board of Education ($87,618,405) are the same as had been approved by the Board of Finance. The schools are seeing an approximately 1.6 percent year-over-year increase, while the overall operating budget is going up 2.6 percent.