Neighbor of New Canaan Country School Sues P&Z over Approval of Rebuilt Athletic Facility

A neighbor of New Canaan Country School this month filed a lawsuit appealing the Planning & Zoning Commission’s approval of a two-story, 25,000-square-foot athletic facility near their shared property line. According to the administrative appeal filed in state Superior Court on behalf of the plaintiff, Katherine Moore, the new facility’s location “is such that it will have more negative impact on the use, enjoyment and value of the Moore property than it would literally anywhere else on the 70-plus-acre school property.”

P&Z’s decision, ultimately, to approve the Country School’s site plan “is illegal, arbitrary, capricious and constitutes an abuse of discretion for a variety of reasons,” according to the complaint, filed Aug. 9 by attorney Ted O’Hanlon of Stamford-based Robinson + Cole. According to the complaint, those reasons include that the Country School’s initial application was incomplete and inaccurate, failed to meet New Canaan’s Special Permit criteria, that P&Z reached its decision through “incomplete, non-conforming and illegal plans” that the Commission then tried to address through conditions of approval and that the plan allows the school to exceed maximum allowable coverage illegally (by applying a 2006 Zoning Board of Appeals decision that’s no longer relevant). “The Commission ignored competent and unrefuted evidence offered by Moore that the facility could be located elsewhere on the school property, in a location that fully complied with the Zoning Regulations, and without impacting neighbors so severely, if at al, and which did not present the traffic or safety complications at the approved location,” the complaint said.

Grace Farms Withdraws Re-Filed Permit Application, Opening Questions About Long-Term Operation

An attorney on behalf of Grace Farms this week withdrew the organization’s re-filed application for a special permit. In a short letter to the town planner dated Feb. 5, attorney Ted O’Hanlon of Stamford-based Robinson+Cole said that Grace Farms looks forward “to working with you on the implementation and enforcement” of an existing special permit, approved last fall by the Planning & Zoning Commission with 100-plus conditions. Coming on the heels of a contentious P&Z hearing where several neighbors complained that Grace Farms already has violated that existing permit in many ways, the withdrawal raises new questions about just what set of rules the Lukes Wood Road organization will operate under in the long term. According to a lawsuit filed by neighbors Timothy Curt and Dona Bissonnette of Smith Ridge Road, the post-hearing legal notices of P&Z’s decision last year were “defective, incomplete and misleading” and also failed to meet the requirements of state law and the town’s own zoning regulations.