Laura Edmonds

Recent Articles

Record-High 94 Percent of NCHS Seniors To Enter Internship Program

This spring, 289 New Canaan High School seniors will participate in an increasingly popular internship program that sends the students to work for the last month of the academic year at local and area businesses and organizations. The figure represents about 94 percent of the Class of 2018—marking a high point in the history of a program that launched with just a dozen NCHS seniors in 2011. Heather Bianco, coordinator of the Senior Internship Program, attributed the rise in popularity of ‘SIP’ its many benefits for students. “It just gives them experience out of school in a work environment that they don’t get in school and a lot of them have not had a job before, so it just gives a professional environment where they can get a real-life work experience,” Bianco, who is in her second full year of overseeing the program, told NewCanaanite.com. Here’s a look at its growth (article continues below):

 

Bianco took the reins from Sue Carroll, who as coordinator of the College and Career Center at NCHS had overseen the development and first several years of SIP with help from a volunteer steering committee. Continue Reading →

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ZBA Green-Lights New Two-Family Home on East Avenue

The Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday approved two variances allowing for the construction of a two-family home at 72 East Ave.—however, the project still needs approval from the Planning & Zoning Commission in order to move forward. William Panella plans to raze an existing 1,400-square-foot home on the property, where his late mother Mary had lived, and remove a non-compliant detached garage in the rear in order to build a new, residential style, two-family dwelling measuring about 4,000 square feet. However, in order to get a special permit for the project he needed relief from a requirement that the property have a minimum of 100 feet of frontage (it has only 93 feet) and that the site allow for a conceptual 100-foot diameter “circle” of open area where there is no building footprint (the “circle” is just short at 97 feet) —both of which were granted at the ZBA meeting. The application was continued from the board’s October meeting after some board members expressed concerns over the driveway shown in a preliminary site plan. The initial plan showed the driveway running from East Avenue all the way to the rear of the property, where it was to connect with the parking lot for a new residential and commercial development currently underway at 23 Vitti St. Continue Reading →

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ZBA Green Lights Small Addition in Harrison Avenue Development

The Zoning Board of Appeals at its most recent meeting granted a variance allowing Don Corbo of Darien to build a small addition at 138 Harrison Ave.—one of six units in the development, consisting of three two-family homes near Main Street. Corbo, managing partner of Harrison Avenue Development, told members of the ZBA at their Oct. 2 meeting that he is converting the homes—purchased this summer for $4.2 million— from rentals to condominiums, and thus is seeking to renovate and update them. “This particular unit is the smallest and least attractive of the units,” he said during the meeting, held at Town Hall. “Right now it has only one room on the first floor which serves as a living room, dining room and kitchen.”

The plan, he said, is to build a small addition that will allow for a separate kitchen area on the ground floor and a master bedroom on the second floor. Continue Reading →

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Plan to Build Two-Family Home on East Avenue Stalls at ZBA

An application for a variance that would allow a two-family residence on East Avenue to replace a 1900-built single family home there was continued Monday night after town officials expressed concerns over the proposed driveway and pedestrian access way included in the project. On its face, property owner William Panella’s request for a variance for 72 East Ave. is straightforward: The applicant is requesting relief from the residential Zone B requirement for a minimum 100 feet of street frontage, as the property only allows for about 93 feet of frontage, and to allow the driveway from East Avenue to connect with another driveway and parking lot for an adjacent commercial property on Vitti Street. Panella plans to tear down the existing 1,400-square-foot home, where his late mother Mary had lived, as well as the detached garage in the rear and construct a new, residential style, two-family dwelling measuring about 4,000 square feet. Before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, attorney David Rucci of Lampert Williams & Toohey LLC explained that he is, in fact, representing two clients on the project, William Panella, son of the late Mary Panella, whose property is the subject of the application, and Panella’s development partner, Art Collins, who is developing an adjacent property on Vitti Street, directly behind the property on East Avenue and in the town’s Business B zone (see map below). Continue Reading →

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After Contentious Hearing, Town Officials Call for Fresh Legal Advice on ‘Sober House’ Appeal

During an emotionally charged, at times contentious public hearing that saw a line of lawyers paint vastly different pictures of what’s required of the town, officials on Monday night said they would obtain yet another legal opinion prior to deciding whether a “sober house” may operate in a single-family home in northwestern New Canaan without obtaining a permit. Those opposed to a sober house operating out of a West Road residence criticized the town’s finding that the for-profit facility needs no permit to do so, saying New Canaan should have a formal application process for the business and pooh-poohing legal advice that imposing such would trigger liability for discrimination. Those who have found that The Lighthouse may operate at 909 West Road without a permit point to federal laws that govern treatment of the disabled and fair housing practices. During a public hearing on next-door neighbor Thom Harrow’s appeal of the town’s finding before the Zoning Board of Appeals, what emerged were competing legal interpretations of what would constitute a “reasonable accommodation” for the sober house on New Canaan’s part. According to Town Attorney Ira Bloom, whose advice led to an assertion that The Lighthouse may operate its facility in the 8,000-square-foot home, New Canaan is required “to reasonably accommodate” the sober house within its own regulations. Continue Reading →

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