Cam Hutchins

Recent Articles

‘I Will Not Be Harassed Nor Bullied’: Despite Acrimony, Town Council Votes To Create ‘Land Acquisition Fund’

Saying they felt bullied after fellow members of New Canaan’s legislative body took an unusual step to force a specific item onto their meeting agenda, two officers of the elected Town Council on Wednesday night abstained from voting on it. Ultimately, the Town Council voted 7-0 in favor of establishing a “land acquisition fund”—a state law-sanctioned vehicle that’s designed to allow New Canaan to purchase property and use it for open space, recreation or housing. Yet the Town Council’s secretary, Penny Young, and chairman, Bill Walbert, abstained from voting. Originally discussed in January after councilmen John Engel, Kevin Moynihan and Cristina A. Ross argued in favor of its immediate creation, the land acquisition fund item was to be taken up again in March, according to Young, under an agenda set by herself, together with Walbert and the Town Council’s vice chairman, Steve Karl. Under the Town Council’s own rules, if five members of the body sought to add it to the agenda for this month, they could have done so, according to Young. Continue Reading →

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Selectmen Signal Support for New Canaan Land Trust’s Purchase of Fowler Property

Town officials on Tuesday morning voiced support for a special appropriation to help a local organization dedicated to land conservation acquire a wooded 6-acre parcel now available for purchase. Though the three-person Board of Selectmen stopped short of an official vote—the discussion of the Silvermine Road property came before the trio as a non-voting, informational item—the group spoke in favor of helping the New Canaan Land Trust buy it. At the time of the selectmen’s regular meeting, the Land Trust was seeking $320,000 from the town to close the $1,070,000 purchase (overall, $1.3 million is needed). Selectman Nick Williams said that he was “generally supportive” of the Land Trust’s efforts to acquire what’s called the “Fowler property,” named for its owner, award-winning zoologist and longtime New Canaanite Jim Fowler. “These opportunities do not come along that often,” Williams said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. Continue Reading →

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Town Urges State Officials To See That Aquarion Land Is Preserved, Not Developed; Public Hearing Scheduled for June 1

Town officials and open space advocates are urging a state agency that oversees utilities in Connecticut to see that the water company doesn’t sell off pieces of a large parcel of untouched land in southwestern New Canaan to developers, but rather ensures its preservation, as-is. Calling Aquarion’s 18.9-acre property an “oasis” of “woods, stream and wetlands” and a wildlife corridor set amid developed 2-acre properties, the chairman of the New Canaan Conservation Commission in a letter this month told the Public Utility Regulatory Authority that his group is “concerned that while Aquarion has worked in recent years to get this parcel designated as ‘forest land,’ allowing it to lower the total appraised value to $239,600, the company now seeks to reverse all of that effort and sell the property off to developers at top rate.” (more…) Continue Reading →

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‘They Are Trying To Run Roughshod Over The Process’: Aquarion’s Neighbors Issue Cease-and-Desist on Land Sale

Though it aims to subdivide and sell a large piece of untouched land tucked away behind Indian Waters Drive, the water company has no legal way to establish access from that private road and neighbors have issued a cease-and-desist order, one of them told New Canaan’s legislative body last week. Residents of Indian Waters Drive “are urgently trying to keep this as open land for the town” and Aquarion has “ignored us,” Peter Bergen told members of the Town Council during their regular meeting, held Wednesday at Town Hall. “We are prepared to work with the town, to work with the New Canaan Land Trust to try to keep this land open. I think this land is currently assessed at about $13,000 an acre that they are trying to sell for about $1.5 million an acre. So I am urging the town to keep considering this issue, to slow down the process, especially given the legal issues that are ongoing, where we do not believe for a second that they have access at all and they are trying to run roughshod over the process.”

He spoke during a public comments section at the top of the Town Council meeting. Continue Reading →

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Conservation Commission To Weigh In On Proposal To Develop Aquarion Land

Members of the volunteer municipal body tasked with advising the town on the management and protection of New Canaan’s natural resources said Thursday night that they plan to weigh in on a divisive proposal from the water company to develop a large wooded parcel that straddles the Noroton River watershed. The Conservation Commission’s role is “to gather facts and present our learned opinion to the Town Council about things like this,” the group’s chairman, Cam Hutchins, said during a special meeting, held in a Town Hall board room. “This is something we want to weigh in on, and we are not supposed to be biased, though our bias going in is that open space a good thing.”

Aquarion’s approximately 19-acre property occupies a wildlife- and wetlands-heavy parcel bordered by the points of three dead-ending roads—Indian Waters Drive, Welles Lane and Thurton Drive. Officials with the water company say they have entered an agreement with one neighbor who wants to purchase 8.3 acres contiguous to his or her property, and will pursue a 2-lot subdivision of the roughly 10 remaining acres, with frontage on Indian Waters Drive. Any land sale undertaken by Aquarion requires approval from the state agency that oversees utilities in Connecticut, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. Continue Reading →

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