P&Z To Merritt Village Builder: We Thought the Retaining Walls Would Have Different Materials

Saying they’re disappointed that the materials they thought a local builder would be using for a retaining wall are not what has materialized along Park Street, members of the Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday night asked the developer of Merritt Village whether similar “faux-looking” structures could be expected. 

Weeks after addressing the matter of the retaining wall with New Canaan’s legislative body, Arnold Karp of Karp Associates came before P&Z to during the appointed group’s regular meeting. 

According to Karp, a second retaining wall above and behind the one that’s caused so much fuss is to be built, and there’s also one that curves around where motorists will enter Merritt Village from Park Street. 

Even so, Karp said, the retaining walls will be capped and partially hidden by plantings, and the buildings themselves—which feature natural stone and cedar shingles—will be the focal point for passersby. “I have to get a little more of the project on down the line before I have 18,000 architects who live in town telling me how it is going to look,” Karp told the Commission during its meeting, held at Town Hall. 

As P&Z itself includes architects Laszlo Papp, Dan Radman and Kent Turner, Karp added, “I wasn’t counting anybody on the commission in the 18,000,” drawing laughter from the room. Radman said, “But it’s only these three that you have to worry about.”

Merritt Village, a 110-unit apartment and condo complex approved by P&Z two years ago, following several months of hearings and a record-high number of conditions, is still about 18 months away from completion. 

Even so, Chairman John Goodman said that P&Z has received “a fair amount of feedback from the community” regarding the retaining wall, and therefore asked Karp and Karp Associates COO Paul Stone to address the matter. 

Karp said he takes P&Z’s comments to heart. 

“It’s not like I’m going to build this and disappear,” Karp said. “I’m here for the duration.”

Speaking of the retaining wall in its current state, he added: “We are looking at something that against this backdrop is very noticeable. They are not finished.

P&Z: Board of Ed Lacks Site Plan Approval for ‘Alternative High School’ Downtown

The Board of Education plans to install New Canaan’s first-ever “alternative high school” on the second floor of the downtown building its administration currently occupies, though town officials on Tuesday night raised concerns that required zoning approvals for such a program have not yet been obtained. Specifically, the Board of Ed needs approval for a site plan in order to move forward with the program on the second floor of 39 Locust Ave., members of the Planning & Zoning Commission said during their regular meeting. 

Though school starts Thursday, the Board of Ed “missed a deadline” to get on the agenda for this week’s meeting, according to P&Z Chairman John Goodwin. “I think when they make the site plan application in September we will learn more,” Goodwin said at the meeting, held at Town Hall. “What is unfortunate is that they are going ahead and doing this without the site plan approval. So my question to them next month is, why did they miss the deadline?”

No Board of Ed members or district administrators attended the meeting.

‘This Is a Massive Building’: Neighbors Voice Concerns Over Proposed Athletic Facility at New Canaan Country School

Saying a proposed new athletic facility at New Canaan Country School would loom too close to their property line as currently envisioned, neighbors of the private Frogtown Road institution are calling on officials to deny an application now before the town. To be located east and a bit further away from Frogtown Road from an existing and outdated facility that will be razed, the new structure would sit 40 feet from the eastern property line—a distance that, though it technically meets the setback requirement of 35 feet laid out in the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, is at “astonishingly close range” to the residential property that’s been in George Moore’s family since about 1938, he said. “We respectfully ask that the New Canaan Planning & Zoning board reject this proposal,” Moore told members of the P&Z Commission at their Jan. 30 regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “We feel like this is a real affront to our family’s property and property value.

Op-Ed: The Process of Making ‘Cell Tower Sausage’

We’ve all heard the term before, especially when describing the political process in D.C., but the same name holds true for small-town politics and commissions. When new initiatives are put forth in New Canaan, projects like school additions, budgets, road construction and sidewalks, even the Town Hall project, people get very passionate and vocal as to what direction they believe the town should be going. That’s a good thing and that’s exactly how the process should work. Not only are the public expected to behave in a civil manner during these discussions, but the elected officials and the volunteers on these commissions are expected to patiently listen to, and take into account, the opinions and concerns of their constituency. Not just argue for their own proposed agenda.

Residents Clash with Utilities Commission Over Cell Tower Proposal

More than 100 New Canaan residents gathered at Town Hall Monday night to express their thoughts and ask questions regarding the Utilities Commission’s preliminary proposal to build cell phone towers at Irwin Park and West School in efforts to improve service in the north and west sections of the town. The meeting, which opened the floor to the public and was in session for more than three hours, was at times tense and acrimonious as residents and commission members clashed over how the process has gone thus far and how it could affect the town in both the short- and long-term. Utilities Commission Chairman Tom Tesluk opened with a presentation extensively detailing the plans for the proposed cell towers, but stressed that the purpose of the meeting was to garner feedback from residents and provide an opportunity for the consultants hired by the town for the project the chance to answer questions. He also reiterated that the official decision on the construction of the towers would ultimately be up to the Town Council and not the commission. “There has been a certain sense in this town, at a point, that maybe this is a done deal, maybe there’s been a Pearl Harbor sneak attack of powers, but I promise you there hasn’t,” he told the crowd.