John Engel

Recent Articles

Eversource: New Canaan Residents Can Influence Natural Gas Expansion Plan In Out Years

Following an initial roll-out of natural gas in New Canaan through 2020—a three-phase project starting next year that will see a trunk line come into town from Stamford, up South Avenue to the business district and then out to East School, with nearby residences along the way—property owners themselves can influence just where the utility brings natural gas, officials say. For Eversource—at least through 2024, under a state-backed expansion plan—the question of where in New Canaan the gas lines will go is in some ways a math equation, according to John Ferrelli, the company’s Waterbury-based supervisor of business account services: The cost of installation must be offset by the load delivered. “Customer demand will dictate the path of opportunity beyond the initial outline, as well as new construction and conversions,” Ferrelli told members of the Town Council at their regular meeting. “Future growth potential will be driven by customer interest, customer demand,” Ferrelli said at the July 19 meeting, held at Town Hall. “And that’s where the company will look to expand [starting in 2020]. Continue Reading →

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‘Anonymous Complaints Can Be Vindictively Filed’: Town Officials Review Guiding Principles in Revising Ethics Code

The head of a newly formed town body that’s charged with fielding written complaints of ethics violations by local public officials, among other important tasks, said Wednesday night that he has a “confidentiality concern” with respect to the idea of those seeking to file a complaint sending communications to New Canaan’s town attorney. According to Ethics Board Chairman Tucker Clauss, a communication that goes from a complainant to the town attorney is not privileged, just as it’s not privileged if the town attorney then sends it along to someone else. “Because he’s the town attorney, not the Ethics Board attorney,” Clauss told members of the Town Council at their regular meeting, held in Town Hall. “And the Ethics Board does not retain any attorneys at that point. So under state law, confidentiality adheres when it comes into the Ethics Board and it stays confidential until there is a probable cause finding, and probable cause proceeds to a public hearing.”

He added: “Notwithstanding the concept of client-attorney privilege, it does not apply in this context.”

The comments came during an update on New Canaan’s Code of Ethics, which is undergoing revision. Continue Reading →

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Republican Candidates for Town Council Face Off in Second Debate

Republican candidates for Town Council offered their views on on some of the town’s most controversial planning and zoning applications during the Republican Town Committee’s second candidates’ debate held at Town Hall Wednesday. Currently there are six Republican candidates for Town Council: Roy Abramowitz, Tom Butterworth, Mike Mauro, Rich Townsend and incumbents Penny Young and John Engel. They are jockeying for seats opening up on the Town Council this fall and thus are seeking party backing. When asked for his opinion on the Planning & Zoning Commission’s recent approval of the Merritt Village redevelopment downtown, Engel, who missed the first RTC debate in June, said, “Real estate is what I do—and I have a deep understanding of the Merritt Village project.”

“Number one, I respect the process,” he said of the recent approval. “We heard earlier that the Town Council doesn’t get involved in what P&Z should do—just like the first selectmen doesn’t tell them what to do—and I don’t think we should have a thumb on the scale with P&Z. Continue Reading →

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GOP Candidates For Town Council Spar Over Cell Service, Transparency During Debate

Five of six Republican candidates seeking seats on the Town Council in the upcoming November municipal elections debated a range of topics—from cell towers to land acquisition to transparency in local government—during a lively and well-attended debate hosted by the Republican Town Committee at Town Hall last week. Four Republican seats on the Town Council are up for grabs in the upcoming fall election. The six candidates seeking nomination from town Republicans in the upcoming caucus, to be held July 18, include incumbents John Engel and Penny Young, as well as Roy Abramowitz, Tom Butterworth, Mike Mauro and Richard Townsend. Engel was unable to attend the debate. Recently, the town Utilities Commission, which is searching for ways to improve cell service in town, issued a report proposing that cell towers be erected in Irwin Park and near West School. Continue Reading →

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Letter: One Realtor on Grace Farms as a Property Value-Enhancing New Canaan Asset

Dear Editor:

I am a Realtor in New Canaan. Last year I sold a nearly $4 million house across the street from Grace Farms. The buyers came to Grace Farms immediately after looking at the house, were served tea in the teahouse, and decided that Grace Farms is the perfect neighbor and they bought the house. Just how extraordinary is that? It shouldn’t be. But, this house teaches us a useful lesson about property values in New Canaan. Continue Reading →

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