John Goodwin

Recent Articles

Officials Dissolve P&Z Subcommittee on Wireless

Saying a subcommittee of the Planning & Zoning Commission appeared to have overstepped its charge—developing a town-wide strategy for wireless communications rather focusing on more specific areas such as screening and height—officials last week dissolved the group. P&Z Chairman John Goodwin said in an Aug. 17 email that the commission has made “very good progress on this complicated and contentious issue” since the question of specifics on wireless in the New Canaan Zoning Regulations came up last year. Yet “the process has become more politicized than would have been ideal,” Goodwin said. “While in many public statements, we have stated that the commission should not be the entity to be developing a wireless strategy for the town, we have tended to wander into that realm in some of our discussions. Continue Reading →

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‘We Are Going To Miss Him’: Town Planner Steve Palmer To Step Down Next Month

Steve Palmer, town planner of New Canaan since late last year, is stepping down from his position with the municipality to join his family’s business, officials said Friday. Town employees received word from New Canaan Human Resources Director Cheryl Pickering-Jones in a midmorning email. “We are going to miss Steve and the work he has done in just a  short time for Planning and Zoning,” she said in the email. In a relatively short period of time, Palmer has tackled multiple dense and divisive P&Z applications and appeals before the town, including the Merritt Village, sober house, Grace Farms and Roger Sherman Inn. Asked about the development, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said that Palmer has done “a magnificent job while here.”

“We are going to miss him,” Mallozzi said. Continue Reading →

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‘It Seems a Little Excessive’: P&Z Voices Concern over Request for Second Sign Behind Bank-Owned Building

Saying a proposed second sign out back of a corporate building on Elm Street was too large, the Planning & Zoning Commission at its most recent hearing continued an application filed on behalf a community bank. Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations (see the final paragraph on page 127 here), P&Z may grant a business a second sign larger than one square foot for the rear entrance of a first-floor use. Yet what Bankwell had proposed for the non-walk-in, corporate headquarters at 220 Elm St.—a building that houses other commercial tenants—appears to be too big at 12-by-134 feet, according to P&Z Secretary Jean Grzelecki. “It seems a little excessive,” Grzelecki said at the group’s June 26 special meeting, held in Town Hall. “I could see this being totally appropriate if in fact Bankwell were moving into this building, with one sign on the front and one sign on the back, to identify for its own customers coming. Continue Reading →

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‘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 East Hartford-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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‘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. Continue Reading →

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