What follows is a snapshot of where the three 8-30g affordable housing applications filed in New Canaan now stand, with respect to municipal and state government agencies, as well as the courts.
In addition to the applications at Weed and Elm Streets, Main Street and Hill Street, the town currently is suing the Connecticut Department of Housing over its denial in October of an application for four years of relief from the state affordable housing law (known by its statute number, 8-30g) that allows developers to skirt local planning decisions in projects that set aside a certain percentage of units as affordable.
Under a Jan. 20 order from Judge Ted O’Hanlan, the state has until Friday to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Connecticut Judicial Branch records show. Oral arguments on that motion will be heard March 15, the records show.
Weed and Elm Streets
What it is: An application for a 102-unit, five-story building at 751 Weed St. was filed with Planning & Zoning in February 2022. Under the application filed on behalf of the 3.1-acre property’s owner, Arnold Karp, 31 of the units would be rented at affordable rates.
- What already happened:
Sewer—The Board of Finance, as New Canaan’s Water Pollution Control Authority (or “WPCA”), took up an application in February 2022 for allocation of sewer capacity and permission to connect the development to the municipal sewer system. The WPCA found that running the sewer from the property directly into the Elm Street sewer system, rather than through the private easements where it currently runs, constitutes an extension of the sewer system. As such, a referral was sought under state law from the Planning & Zoning Commission. P&Z issued a negative report in July 2022. That same month, though the WPCA found that there’s adequate capacity for the redevelopment, it denied the request to construct a new manhole and sewer main extension. The following month, the applicant sued the WCPA over that denial. The matter is currently before state Superior Court. Here’s the applicant’s legal brief, here’s the town’s.
Development—P&Z in October decided to deny the application at 751 Weed St., and did so formally the following month, citing fire safety, pedestrian and motor vehicle safety, stormwater management and protection of nearby properties. At its Nov. 28 meeting, P&Z unanimously denied all three parts of the application—for a zoning regulation amendment, petition for a boundary change and the site plan.
- Where it stands: P&Z on Tuesday (Jan. 24) opened the applicant’s revised site plan with an expanded landscape buffer and screening, improved on-site accessible walkways, elimination of retaining walls from a Weed Street driveway exit, further adjustments for stormwater management, new sidewalk on the north side of the property and fire safety details. The Commission on Monday heard from representatives for the applicant on the resubmission. The attorney on the application, Tim Hollister of Hartford-based Hinckley Allen, said his team needs to discuss some matters with the town engineer.
- What’s next: The revised application was continued and could be heard at a special meeting Feb. 15. P&Z has 65 days from Jan. 24 to issue its decision. If P&Z does not approve the revised application, the applicant has said the matter will be appealed in state Superior Court, as laid out in Connecticut General Statutes 8-30g.
What it is: Attorneys representing Karp in May filed an application to redevelop the property at 51 Main St.—the former Red Cross building—moving about 70% of the ca. 1889 structure closer to the road and putting in a multi-family residential structure with 20 apartments behind it. Six of the units will be rented at lower rates. The building itself will include a grade-level parking garage and four stories on top of that, with a driveway onto Main widened from 12 to 22 feet.
- What already happened:
Historic District—The property at 51 Main St. lies within the town’s Historic District. The appointed commission that oversees the district found in October that the proposed redevelopment is not appropriate for the area.
Development—P&Z took up the application in July and on Dec. 22, unanimously denied all parts of the application, citing the significance of the Historic District, emergency vehicle access, pedestrian and motor vehicle safety and stormwater management
- Where it stands: In January, the applicant resubmitted the application at 51 Main St. to P&Z with several changes, including removal of the top story, lowering the building by seven feet, a new setback from the road (from five feet to nearly 20 feet), revised landscaping, on-site accessible walkways and adjustments to stormwater management.
- What’s next: The resubmitted plans were not on P&Z’s regular meeting agenda for January. The Commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28. The applicant has not yet applied for a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic District Commission, and will not do so until the application is processed by P&Z.
What it is: The town in September 2022 received an application to build a 93-unit housing complex on a combined 2.76-acre vacant wooded parcel on Hill Street. Plans for 17 and 23 Hill Street call for a six-story structure with 44 one-bedroom, 40 two-bedroom and nine three-bedroom apartments—14 of which would be rented at affordable rates, under 8-30g—and 142 parking spaces on site.
- What already happened:
Inland Wetlands—Even prior to the P&Z filing, a group of neighbors in March 2022 petitioned the New Canaan Inland Wetlands Commission to revoke a permit that had been issued four years prior (for a 16-foot-wide driveway, instead of 12-foot-wide). In June, the town’s director of inland wetlands and watercourses reported two violations at the site to the Commission, and laid out a plan for remediation to which the applicant agreed. The following month, that plan was found by the Commission to have been met. The appointed body also denied the petition for revoking the permit at its July 2022 meeting. In September, the applicant filed with the Commission for permission to widen the pervious pavement of the driveway further, to 20 feet (23.5 feet overall), as well as for additional site development and drainage management. Commissioners raised concerns at their November meeting about protection of site wetlands and control of pollutants during construction. Peer reviewers presented conflicting findings at subsequent public hearings. At its meeting Monday (Jan. 23) night, the Commission again took up the issue, with the intervenor—a group that calls itself NCRADD, short for “New Canaan Residents Against Destructive Development”—and the town’s paid consultants voicing their concerns.
Sewer—The WPCA in October 2022 took up an application from the property owner, Karp, to connect the proposed redevelopment to the sewer system. Citing climate change and saying that—given the three large 8-30g applications—New Canaan needed to flesh out its sewer plan through the Plan of Conservation & Development process, the WPCA appeared ready on Monday night to reject the sewer application. However, it took no action on the matter after a lawyer with the town attorney’s firm intervened.
Development—P&Z opened the public hearing on 17-23 Hill St. last month. That hearing included a presentation by the applicant but very little back-and-forth with the Commission.
- Where it stands: We are in the midst of the P&Z hearings with this proposal, the third of the three 8-30g applications filed. During its regular meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 24), P&Z heard from representatives of the NCRADD intervenors. They called for the Commission to deny the application, citing traffic, safety, health and environmental concerns.
- What’s next: P&Z’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28. The WPCA originally had been scheduled to take up the sewer application again on Tuesday, Jan. 24, but that meeting was canceled and likely will be moved to February, officials say.