Letter: ‘We Can Have the New Library and the Original One’

Historic places connect us to our past, demonstrate our priorities and principles as well as reflect the values of a community.   

Libraries have  been an important part of American towns since 1833, when the first public library was founded. The New Canaan library is no different. The community has always felt strongly about its library as far back as 1877 when Albert Comstock and Jesse St. John left money in their estates to help build a permanent structure; this formed the cornerstone of the library we all know and love.   

That same passion and dedication is reflected today as the community debates the new library facility. Yes, we can all agree that the library is important and the proposed new structure reflects the changing times and focus of the community, but as we move forward what does it say about us as a community when we cannot honor the past and build upon the “old library” and use it going forward? Preservation is using the past to make a good future. Using the “best of a place” can only improve the quality of our community and honor the principles that guided those before us.  

We can continue to demonstrate and honor the tenets that knowledge, education and community are key principles which continue to bind us together today as they did in the past. The 1913 portion of the library is a beautiful building, which has acted as an anchor in town, an important symbol which represents a dedication to learning and knowledge and by leaving it where it is, it will not impact the design of the current building but continue to serve the community which should be honoring it and repurposing this wonderful old structure.  

Many great pieces of architecture have integrated the old and the new – think of the Louvre with its glass pyramid, the Morgan Library with its glass addition. Do we throw away a book because it doesn’t fit the new shelves? No.We incorporate it, honor it and value it. We can have the new library and the original one. They can live in harmony with the original library anchoring a second town green (God’s acre is New Canaan’s first).

Op-Ed: In Wake of FOI Decision, Change Is Needed in New Canaan

Have you ever requested a document that was discussed at a public meeting and been denied? Or perhaps asked to see correspondence on a proposed application or a draft approval and been told that those documents are not available to the general public? On May 21, 2018, in a proposed final decision of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Commission, what we believe to be a longstanding illegal practice of New Canaan’s Planning & Zoning Commission—namely, the denial of prompt access to draft decisional documents that have been discussed in public—has been exposed. Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act guarantees you, with limited and narrowly construed exceptions, prompt access to public records without having to go through the formalities of filing a formal FOI request. Until recently, representatives of the town have continued to advocate for withholding public records, notwithstanding, and in the face of, more than a quarter century of Connecticut Supreme Court precedent.

Letter: Proposed Change to Zoning Regulations Threatens All New Canaan Residential Neighborhoods

To the Editor:

At the May 30th P&Z hearing, a change was proposed to New Canaan’s zoning regulations that has the potential to fundamental alter the character of our residential neighborhoods. This proposed text change would allow multiple, independent and unrelated principal uses to co-exist on a single residential lot. Why is this important? If approved, any homeowner in New Canaan could set up one or more businesses and actively operate those businesses at their property in addition to maintaining their primary residence. Some recent examples in town—the Sober House on West Road, Orchards’ End Spa on Oenoke Ridge, and the One King’s Lane “residential retail” design showroom—would all be perfectly legitimate activities in their respective neighborhoods.

Letter: Grace Farms’ Proposed Changes To Zoning Regulations Opens ‘Pandora’s Box’ throughout Town

To the Editor:

Saturday, May 13th, marks the one year anniversary since our neighborhood formally asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to investigate the activities taking place at Grace Farms. Twelve months later, notwithstanding the former Town Planner’s June 2016 report to the Commission that the Foundation is conducting a myriad of unpermitted activities at Grace Farms, our neighborhood is confronted with no enforcement of the conditions set forth in the 2013 Special Permit, and an applicant overtly refusing to come into compliance with that permit. This begs the question: Is there enforcement of zoning regulations in New Canaan? Reflecting on the past year with Orchard’s End Spa on Oenoke Ridge, One Kings Lane’s “residential retail” decorating showroom on Cross Ridge Road, the “sober house” on West Road, the long-standing parked RV on Hoyt Street, and the Luke’s Wood Road house with imposing driveway gates and pillars, we know that enforcement, while ephemeral, does exist. As residents of New Canaan, we are all required to follow the zoning regulations; they are intended to guide land use activities in New Canaan in ways that will enhance community character, provide assurances and certainty to property owners when they buy into a neighborhood of its general characteristics, and protect public health, safety, and welfare. In other words, these regulations form one of the principal building blocks of the social contract we share living in New Canaan.