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.

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P&Z Denies Plan for Roger Sherman Inn, Developer Vows To Appeal

Saying the proposed redevelopment of the Roger Sherman Inn is wrong for its neighborhood and that changes to the New Canaan Zoning Regulations would need to undergo to allow it are too site-specific, officials on Tuesday night by a 7-2 vote denied a plan to replace the Roger Sherman Inn with six single-family homes. Though changing the use of 195 Oenoke Ridge Road from a business to a residence normally would make it more conforming to the regulations, the plan as proposed isn’t “a good trade here, for a lot of reasons” beyond its excessive density, according to Planning & Zoning Commissioner Bill Redman. “One is, it is certainly not like the Maples Inn from years ago, it’s not the same look and feel,” Redman said during a regular meeting of P&Z, held at Town Hall. “Things have changed around town in terms of the types of housing that have gone in. I don’t want to give false hope by saying, ‘Come in with something different.’ I don’t feel that way.

‘Protect Us from Turning into Greenwich’: P&Z Adopts More Flexible Regulations for Gates and Columns

Seeking more flexible and legally defensible rules, town officials last week voted to expand a section of the New Canaan Zoning Regulations that pertains to the allowable heights of gates and columns, such as those found at the ends of residential driveways. Until now, homeowners in any residential zone seeking to install fences or freestanding walls higher than four feet above finished grade—when in the front yard and located between the front property line and front yard setback line—applied to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a special permit to do so. The across-the-board rule, while ensuring that New Canaan’s larger residential zones don’t appear sealed from the public roadway in a cold and distant way, have brought on “a number of issues,” according to P&Z Chairman John Goodwin. “It just brings us to a point where we are trying to over-regulate a very difficult area,” Goodwin said during the group’s regular meeting on Jan. 31, held at Town Hall.