New Owners of ‘Beval Saddlery’ Building Seek First-Floor Office Use for ‘Second Ring’ of Downtown New Canaan

Saying the change would help commercial property owners, retailers and the wider community, a local land use attorney has applied to the town to allow first-floor offices in a business zone that skirts the center of downtown New Canaan. Representing the new owners of the former Beval Saddlery building on Pine Street, attorney David Rucci of Main Street’s Lampert, Toohey & Rucci LLC is seeking to amend the New Canaan Zoning Regulations to “re-establish first floor office use with site plan review in the Business A zone.”

“The Business A zone was created in 1985,” Rucci wrote in an application filed Monday with Planning & Zoning. “It is the largest of the business zones and represents the second ring of the core. While there is a prohibition on new first floor office use today, over 50 percent of the zone serves first floor general office use. The remaining properties serve retail, bank, medical, second floor office use and single purpose type of business use.”

The application continued: “By re-establishing first floor general office use in the Business A zone, we believe the zone would become more economically viable for both A zone building owners and the Town of New Canaan.

P&Z: Board of Ed Failed To Properly Notice Neighbors of ‘Alternative High School’ Plan; Vote Postponed To October

Though the “alternative high school” is up and running in downtown New Canaan, town officials last week were prevented from approving a site plan that would formally allow it because of the district’s failure to properly notify neighboring property owners. The Planning & Zoning Commission must “give the public the opportunity next month to address” the district’s location of the alternative high school in 800 square feet of space on the second floor of the same building that New Canaan Public Schools administrators occupy on the corner of Forest Street and Locust Avenue, according to P&Z Chairman John Goodwin. “This Commission’s responsibility is for use and land use and so, whether you like it or not, we are part of the checks and balances process of this town,” Goodwin told Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi at the Commission’s regular meeting, held Sept. 25 at Town Hall. 

Turning to his fellow commissioners, he added: “We cannot vote on this tonight, since notices did not go out in time. Normally we would not have opened the application, given the timing issues.”

Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, properties in the Retail B zone may be used as a “municipal facility,” including a school, with site plan approval by P&Z.

P&Z Approves ‘White Buffalo’ Hot-Dog-and-Brats Restaurant and Bar for Downtown New Canaan

Despite some concerns regarding outdoor lighting, members of the Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday night voted unanimously to allow a hot dog-themed restaurant to open in a commercial space in downtown New Canaan. To be located down the “alley” at the top of Elm Street—formerly occupied by New Canaan Music (now on Main Street), near the former Chef Luis restaurant—the new establishment, “White Buffalo,” will include a 13-stool bar and rows of two-person tables that bring the total seating to about 35 to 40 people, according to New Canaan resident Dave Tonkovich, one of three local men who is launching the business. A 1993 New Canaan High School graduate along with business partner Dom Valente—town resident Doug Harris is also an owner—Tonkovich described White Buffalo as a “place where New Canaan as a community can gather and support each other, whether that is having our teams over after a game, hosting a fundraiser for the lacrosse or hockey team, or honoring our local Police Department or Fire Department.”

“We feel like this is something the town needs,” Tonkovich said during a public hearing at Town Hall. “You might say it is built by New Canaan, for New Canaan.”

Tonkovich reviewed some national hot dog consumption data and said that White Buffalo is designed to “fit the bill” for locals meeting after a game or with a friend or client “or when you are coming off the train.”

“Our goal is not to be all things to all people,” he said. Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, restaurants are permitted in the Retail A zone with site plan approval. After some discussion, P&Z approved White Buffalo’s site plan 7-0.

Hot Dogs and Bratwurst Restaurant ‘White Buffalo’ Proposed for Downtown New Canaan

A new restaurant selling hot dogs and bratwurst is being proposed for a vacant commercial space located off of Elm Street in downtown New Canaan. ‘White Buffalo’ would offer a wide variety of hot dogs—including a “singature” blend of pork, veal and beef— as well cheese-and-sauerkraut, hot and “big bacon cheese” bratwurst topped with relish, spicy mustard, chili, bacon bits and more, according to a draft menu submitted to the Planning & Zoning Commission along with a site plan application for 72 Park St. The commercial building, occupied until recently by New Canaan Music (now at 90 Man St.) is located down “the alley” by the former Chef Luis space. Site plan approval is needed by P&Z for a change of use to food service. Renderings for the long narrow space show a cozy bar with 13 stools and four flatscreen TVs as well as two-top tables lining one wall. 

The eatery would be a truly local affair: The owners of White Buffalo LLC are New Canaan residents, according to records on file with the Connecticut Secretary of the State.

P&Z Votes 9-0 in Favor of Canaan Parish Redevelopment; Look of Exterior To Be Finalized

Saying a new exterior design represented a major improvement if not an acceptable final version, the Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday night unanimously approved the redevelopment of Canaan Parish, a 60-unit housing complex at Lakeview Avenue and Route 123. Addressing concerns voiced by P&Z at an initial public hearing last month, officials representing the applicant— the 5.2-acre property is owned by the town and an organization called ‘New Canaan Neighborhoods’ owns the buildings—reduced the height of two new buildings proposed for the site by six to seven feet, added architectural features for a more local residential feel, toned down the color scheme and increased screening from the street with more robust landscaping. In the end, the redevelopment is expected to achieve one major goal of the town as well as the New Canaan Housing Authority, which is partnering with New Canaan Neighborhoods on the project—namely, to ensure that New Canaan doesn’t open itself up to a loophole in a state law that allows developers to ignore local planning decisions in places that do not meet strict affordable housing requirements. Plans call for rebuilding the 60-unit Section 8 housing complex in a single five-story structure and construction of a new, 40-unit structure of the same height that would count toward the state’s affordable housing requirement. New Canaan is never expected to reach a guideline whereby 10 percent of its housing stock qualifies as “affordable” under the state’s rigid definition, though the town by creating additional qualifying units at Mill Pond has earned four years of relief from the developer loophole.