Grace Farms

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Did You Hear … ?

New Canaan High School took in about $47,000 at the 2016 Turkey Bowl, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Town Council this week. ***

Originally scheduled to arrive this week, the amended zoning permit application from Grace Farms now is not expected to arrive until March 27 for review next month, officials said. ***

The Police Commission voted 3-0 on Wednesday night to approve the Pop Up Park’s proposed dates of operation for the summer of 2017—continuously, from July 16 to Sept. 4. ***

New Canaan Police Department Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm already is out of the “coyote safety kits” she put together for residents last month, and there are 24 people on a waiting list for more. Continue Reading →

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Grace Farms Refutes Complaints Lodged on Behalf of Neighbors

Complaints from two sets of neighbors about the Grace Farms’ failure to comply with temporary measures imposed by the town are in at least one respect inaccurate, according to an attorney representing the Lukes Wood Road organization. Claims that lights at the Grace Farms’ River Building were on all night last week with the exception of Tuesday are “simply not true,” according to a March 7 response letter, sent to the town planner by Ted O’Hanlan of Stamford-based Robinson + Cole. “We are happy to meet with you in person to review our camera footage,” O’Hanlan said in the letter, which he also forwarded Thursday to NewCanaanite.com. Painting a sunnier picture of Grace Farms’ communications with those whose concerns last year compelled the organization to file an application to amend its zoning permit, O’Hanlan said it “has been working with all its neighbors and with your offices to collect information and viewpoints, as it considers the amended application that it has agreed to file by March 15.”

“This effort has included correspondence, discussions and meetings with neighbors, landscape architects, and you [Palmer], on February 17th. We anticipate a further meeting with the neighbors in advance of our submission, when the screening/buffer plans are received from the landscape architects. Continue Reading →

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‘Grace Farms Continues To Flout the Restrictions It Agreed To’: Concerns Persist As New Filing Nears

Grace Farms has failed to comply with temporary measures imposed by the town while the organization prepares a new application to amend its zoning permit, according to representatives for two sets of direct neighbors. While the town planner has worked hard to help Grace prepare a more appropriate application than what had been filed in the fall (and later withdrawn, after a consultant found it problematic), and also has tried to address neighbors’ concerns, the latter “remain troubled by Grace Farms’ lack of transparency and lack of accountability,” a Darien-based attorney representing the owners of two abutting residences said in a March 3 letter to Planning & Zoning. “While the neighbors would like to be able to work with Grace Farms, it is challenging to do so when Grace Farms refuses to communicate with the [neighbors] or their attorneys and when Grace Farms continues to flout the restrictions it agreed to at the end of January,” attorney Amy Zabetakis of Rucci Law Group said in a letter sent to Town Attorney Steve Palmer and obtained by NewCanaanite.com. Specifically, according to the letter, Grace has failed to comply with measures designed to reduce lighting through the night, to halt for now the scheduling of new evening activities and the scheduling of new “space grants” beyond what already is booked. For example, lights at the “River Building” have been left on all night (apart from one Tuesday night when they went off at 1:30 a.m.), when other than the basketball court they were to be turned off no later than 8:30 p.m. (and the court itself no later than 9:30 p.m.). Continue Reading →

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Grace Farms, Neighbors Negotiate ‘Buffer Zone’ between Properties To Address Some Security, Privacy, Noise Concerns

Grace Farms and its neighbors are negotiating a proposed “buffer zone” between their properties, according to correspondence between the parties involved and town officials—a new development that could address some of the residents’ longstanding concerns about privacy, lighting, noise and safety. According to a summary of a meeting last week between Grace Farms and some neighbors, the organization is putting together a plan that addresses creation of a buffer zone with new fencing as well as changes to the property’s trail network and the unwanted effects of lighting from The River building. Neighbors are seeking “simple, permanent solutions for the benefit of both sides,” according to a summary of the Feb. 17 meeting, sent by Smith Ridge Road resident David Markatos to officials with New Canaan Planning & Zoning. “We also want to avoid ‘variability’ which would require the neighborhood to act as a continuous monitor—for example, certain trails open during May to September, the sound sculpture only active from 11 to 3 p.m., etc. Continue Reading →

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Town to Grace Farms: Supply a List of Scheduled Events and, For Now, Stop Booking New Ones

Town officials on Monday instructed Grace Farms to stop booking new events on its campus and provide details of all activities planned for the next six months, pending a final decision of a yet-to-be-filed application to amend its operating permit. Citing “outstanding violations” of Grace Farms’ existing permit, the town planner in a letter obtained by NewCanaanite.com specified that the organization’s list of activities “shall include the date of the event, the event or group name, the location of the property, start and end times, and the number of attendees expected.”

Town Planner Steve Palmer also instructed Grace Farms to file its new application within 45 days—rather than 60, as the organization had proposed—and called for stronger measures to prevent visitors from wandering toward neighbors’ properties. “These additional measures are integral to this process and compliance with them will be a consideration of the [Planning & Zoning] Commission’s review of the future Special Permit application,” Palmer said. The measures come one week after Grace Farms withdrew an application to amend its zoning permit—a decision prompted by the findings of a third-party consultant that found the application lacking. According to Simsbury-based consulting firm Planimetrics, Grace Farms instead of seeking to add new principal uses to its approved use as a religious institution, should put in for an entirely new special permit. Continue Reading →

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