Planning & Zoning Commission

Recent Articles

‘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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Letter: Residents Oppose Grace Farms’ Proposed Text Amendment, Fear Its Far-Reaching Implications

Dear Editor:

We are a group of neighbors who are concerned about the proposed text amendment before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The zoning codes balance the interests of homeowners and developers and should not be modified at the whim of a single constituency. While this amendment is proposed as part of the ongoing battle between Grace Farms and its neighbors, it has ramifications well beyond that portion of our community. The idea that an organization in town can have multiple primary uses should be frightening to any New Canaan resident. Our neighborhood borders St. Continue Reading →

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Independent Consultant: P&Z Should Consider Limiting Events at Grace Farms, Ensure Ties to Approved ‘Religious Institution’ Use

In considering the latest bid from Grace Farms to secure after-the-fact approval for wide-ranging and intense activities on its campus, town officials should consider limiting the number, size and frequency of events there far more strictly than the organization has proposed, according to an independent, third-party consultant. The Planning & Zoning Commission also may address the size and focus of the food service establishment operating at Grace Farms, as well as an outdoor music-playing “sound sculpture” in a pond, according to Simsbury-based consulting firm Planimetrics. Further, any Special Permit granted by P&Z where Grace Farms is seeking to expand beyond its approved principal use as a religious institution “should tie the additional use requests to the ‘religious institution’ so that they are part and parcel of the overall operation,” Planimetrics President Glenn Chalder said in a May 23 report to the commission. “Since the Special Permit requests are being requested for all of the parcels, it might not be prudent to have a situation in the future where a parcel is sold off or transferred in a way that would allow another club/organization/institutional use to be established on another parcel without commission review. Also, by tying the additional uses to the religious institution, this can help the commission avoid or manage a situation where the religious use is no longer active and the club/organization/institutional use is different than described or envisioned today.”

The recommendations come as Grace Farms prepares to appear Tuesday night before P&Z with its third application to amend a zoning permit approved four years ago, having withdrawn its first two. Continue Reading →

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