‘There Is a Hint of Hypocrisy’: P&Z Rejects ‘Cemetery’ Claims, Signaling Cleared Final Hurdle for Merritt Village

Planning officials on Tuesday night voiced support for proposed changes to the town’s approval for the Merritt Village, signaling the clearing of a final hurdle for the 110-unit condo-and-apartment complex. Because archeological excavations have been undertaken since the Planning & Zoning Commission’s November approval—creating a need to reword parts of it—the group at its regular meeting stopped short of formally voting on an application filed on behalf of property owner M2 Partners. Yet P&Z spoke favorably of updating conditions regarding a burial ground on the Maple Street site that M2 had found objectionable because, if upheld, they would have required the property owner to seek approval for an amended site plan. Saying they’re concerned about preserving local history, some in town have called for P&Z to designate as “cemetery” ground areas of the Maple Street property where, archeological experts have said, people who had been buried there were deliberately dug up and moved to more desirable resting places, such as Lakeview Cemetery. The remaining disinterred grave shafts are scattered throughout a substantial parcel at Merritt Apartments.

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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.

Divided P&Z Disagrees on Whether Roger Sherman Proposal Meets Seldom-Cited Zoning Provision

The hopeful developer of the Roger Sherman Inn site has a strong track record as a builder, the chairman of the New Canaan Planning & Zoning Commission said last week, and turning down his application to create six new homes on the highly visible 1.8-acre property could open up the town to an even denser re-development. Yet New Canaan already is slated to see smaller dwellings—for example, for seniors seeking manageable “in-town” quarters—through mixed-use developments and the Merritt Village apartment-and-condo complex, according to P&Z Chairman John Goodwin. “I am a little worried about do we continue to allow non-single family housing to push its way outward?” Goodwin said at the Feb. 28 P&Z meeting, held in Town Hall. “And I am worried that it potentially could set a precedent that other developers could use.”

He referred to proposed additions to a section of the New Canaan Zoning Regulations under which developer Andrew Glazer of Rowayton-based Glazer Group has applied to create six dwellings where the old inn and restaurant now stand (including converting the oldest part of the Roger Sherman into one of those units, though physically moving it closer to Oenoke Ridge Road).

‘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.

Questions About Well Water Prompt P&Z To Postpone Decision on Proposed Two-Level Pond for Weed Street Estate

Seeking more information about how a proposed well might affect neighbors, town officials on Tuesday night continued a public hearing regarding a Weed Street property owner’s dramatic plan to install a two-tiered pond behind a new house. One neighbor who spoke out against plans for a recently formed 22-acre estate at 386 Weed St. voiced concerns to the Planning & Zoning Commission about the removal of 426 trees on the property—a criticism that would appear somewhat hypocritical, according to a landscaping professional representing the applicant. Sean Keating of TLC Lawn and Landscaping conceded that the 6-acre section that’s been cleared “does look quite devastated at the moment,” though he noted that 4,000 shrubs and trees are planned for the property. “The six acres will be absolutely lush and luxurious when it’s done, and the neighboring properties actually are clear-cut,” Keating told P&Z members at their regular meeting, held in Town Hall.