Grace Farms

Recent Articles

‘Negative Ramifications for the Community of New Canaan’: Consultant on Grace Farms’ Proposed Changes to Zoning Regulations

Proposed changes to the regulations that govern land use in New Canaan, now before the town, appear harmless but in fact have dramatic and harmful implications, according to a consultant hired by a set of neighbors opposed to them. Grace Farms’ proposed text amendments to the New Canaan Zoning Regulations appear “innocuous at first blush,” according to Don Poland, senior vice president and managing director of urban planning at New York City-based Goman+York. Yet if the Planning & Zoning Commission were to approve the organization’s application, it would “exacerbate the issues of appropriate scale, intensity of use and threats of encroachment across all zones—residential and commercial—in New Canaan,” Poland said in a report filed with P&Z. Specifically, Grace Farms—a “religious institution,” under the regulations—is for practical reasons seeking permission to have more than one such principal use designation. Yet “if the proposed regulation amendment is approved, not only can Grace Farms Foundation be allowed to continue its request for multiple principal uses, but also could subsequently apply for additional principal uses, such as Elderly Housing, Adult Housing, Congregate Care, Bed and Breakfast, Private School, Day Care and Private Recreation,” according to Poland’s May 15 report. Continue Reading →

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Letter: Residents Oppose Grace Farms’ Proposed Text Amendment, Fear Its Far-Reaching Implications

Dear Editor:

We are a group of neighbors who are concerned about the proposed text amendment before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The zoning codes balance the interests of homeowners and developers and should not be modified at the whim of a single constituency. While this amendment is proposed as part of the ongoing battle between Grace Farms and its neighbors, it has ramifications well beyond that portion of our community. The idea that an organization in town can have multiple primary uses should be frightening to any New Canaan resident. Our neighborhood borders St. Continue Reading →

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Letter: Proposed Change to Zoning Regulations Threatens All New Canaan Residential Neighborhoods

To the Editor:

At the May 30th P&Z hearing, a change was proposed to New Canaan’s zoning regulations that has the potential to fundamental alter the character of our residential neighborhoods. This proposed text change would allow multiple, independent and unrelated principal uses to co-exist on a single residential lot. Why is this important? If approved, any homeowner in New Canaan could set up one or more businesses and actively operate those businesses at their property in addition to maintaining their primary residence. Some recent examples in town—the Sober House on West Road, Orchards’ End Spa on Oenoke Ridge, and the One King’s Lane “residential retail” design showroom—would all be perfectly legitimate activities in their respective neighborhoods. Continue Reading →

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Independent Consultant: P&Z Should Consider Limiting Events at Grace Farms, Ensure Ties to Approved ‘Religious Institution’ Use

In considering the latest bid from Grace Farms to secure after-the-fact approval for wide-ranging and intense activities on its campus, town officials should consider limiting the number, size and frequency of events there far more strictly than the organization has proposed, according to an independent, third-party consultant. The Planning & Zoning Commission also may address the size and focus of the food service establishment operating at Grace Farms, as well as an outdoor music-playing “sound sculpture” in a pond, according to Simsbury-based consulting firm Planimetrics. Further, any Special Permit granted by P&Z where Grace Farms is seeking to expand beyond its approved principal use as a religious institution “should tie the additional use requests to the ‘religious institution’ so that they are part and parcel of the overall operation,” Planimetrics President Glenn Chalder said in a May 23 report to the commission. “Since the Special Permit requests are being requested for all of the parcels, it might not be prudent to have a situation in the future where a parcel is sold off or transferred in a way that would allow another club/organization/institutional use to be established on another parcel without commission review. Also, by tying the additional uses to the religious institution, this can help the commission avoid or manage a situation where the religious use is no longer active and the club/organization/institutional use is different than described or envisioned today.”

The recommendations come as Grace Farms prepares to appear Tuesday night before P&Z with its third application to amend a zoning permit approved four years ago, having withdrawn its first two. Continue Reading →

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Letter: Grace Farms’ Proposed Changes To Zoning Regulations Opens ‘Pandora’s Box’ throughout Town

To the Editor:

Saturday, May 13th, marks the one year anniversary since our neighborhood formally asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to investigate the activities taking place at Grace Farms. Twelve months later, notwithstanding the former Town Planner’s June 2016 report to the Commission that the Foundation is conducting a myriad of unpermitted activities at Grace Farms, our neighborhood is confronted with no enforcement of the conditions set forth in the 2013 Special Permit, and an applicant overtly refusing to come into compliance with that permit. This begs the question: Is there enforcement of zoning regulations in New Canaan? Reflecting on the past year with Orchard’s End Spa on Oenoke Ridge, One Kings Lane’s “residential retail” decorating showroom on Cross Ridge Road, the “sober house” on West Road, the long-standing parked RV on Hoyt Street, and the Luke’s Wood Road house with imposing driveway gates and pillars, we know that enforcement, while ephemeral, does exist. As residents of New Canaan, we are all required to follow the zoning regulations; they are intended to guide land use activities in New Canaan in ways that will enhance community character, provide assurances and certainty to property owners when they buy into a neighborhood of its general characteristics, and protect public health, safety, and welfare. In other words, these regulations form one of the principal building blocks of the social contract we share living in New Canaan. Continue Reading →

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