Jean Grzelecki

Recent Articles

Town Planner: New Canaan May Look at More Closely Defining Core Retail Area Downtown

Protecting New Canaan’s core retail district may require greater flexibility in what types of businesses can occupy street-level storefronts in other areas of the downtown, officials said last week. Though non-retail uses of street-level commercial spaces are heavily restricted on parts of Main and Elm Streets now, it has become increasingly important to determine exactly what are “the proper limits of retail in town, so that we do not over-commit our zoning to acquiring retail to saturate the market,” Town Planner Steve Palmer told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission at their regular meeting. “I think there is a supply and demand, and we have too much supply,” he said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “So we have to be careful with that, too. We know where it [retail] works best, we know where it is important, so let’s focus on those areas, the outskirts areas—we have to be careful with how we do that.”

The comments come as P&Z guides a discussion with business and town officials on whether the New Canaan Zoning Regulations as regards the “Retail A” zone (in purple here) should be amended—for example, to accommodate more types of service businesses. Continue Reading →

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P&Z Denies Plan for Roger Sherman Inn, Developer Vows To Appeal

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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. Continue Reading →

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Chamber to P&Z: It’s Time To Review New Canaan’s Zoning Regulations for Main and Elm

New Canaan’s charming downtown remains attractive to prospective merchants as well as visitors, though changes in retail in recent years should prompt officials to update some of the zoning regulations that restrict the type of businesses that can occupy street-level storefronts, according to the head of the local Chamber of Commerce. Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations now (see page 72 here), non-retail uses are largely restricted on the street level throughout the “Retail A” zone (in purple here) of Main and Elm Streets. For example, the only service establishments allowed are on the first floor of any building are “personal service” businesses such as salons. Medical, educational or fitness-related uses are relegated to upper floors or business zones beyond the “magic circle” downtown. Those downtown business zones “have served us well over the years, but the time might have come that we want to consider some of the businesses in the Retail A zones and places like that, that complement retail,” Tucker Murphy, the chamber’s executive director, told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission during their regular meeting on Tuesday night. Continue Reading →

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‘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. Continue Reading →

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P&Z Denies Grace Farms’ Bid To Host Other Organizations’ Sports Programs

Saying it would be a slap in the faces of concerned neighbors and citing the awkward timing of the request, officials on Monday night turned down Grace Farms’ bid to host other organizations’ multiple youth and adult sports activities in its own gymnasium over the next six months. Grace Farms already had applied to amend its operating permit in order to allow for wide-ranging activities that have been taking place on its Lukes Wood Road campus, and OK’ing the use of its gym by other organizations—in this case, the New Canaan YMCA and St. Luke’s School—would be very bad timing because that application is pending, according to members of the Planning & Zoning Commission. Though P&Z may, under Grace Farms’ current permit, make special allowances for such a use, “if there was ever a time you would not want to do it, it is now, while we are considering altering a special permit for Grace Farms,” P&Z commissioner Jack Flinn said during the group’s special meeting, held at Town Hall. (more…) Continue Reading →

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