The new owners of a 32-acre estate in New Canaan are seeking to use part of the property to farm vegetables and flowers.
About 4.5 acres at 82 Brookwood Lane also will be used for beekeeping, according to a revised narrative submitted Aug. 14 on behalf of the property owner—Kensho Trust, which acquired the property for $10.8 million last summer—by attorney David Rucci of New Canaan-based Lampert, Toohey & Rucci LLC.
The other 27.5 acres will “remain as woodland, wetlands, meadow and pasture” while two acres “will be kept in cultivation,” Rucci said in the narrative.
It continued: “The main focus of the farm will be an apiculture and woodland-grown shiitake mushroom production. There will also be an orchard, berry and vegetable gardens, as well as ornamental horticulture (perennials and grasses). This unique parcel serves and supports wildlife and is one of few large remaining tracts of open space in New Canaan.”
Six beehives established in the spring are “thriving” and six more will be added next season “to support colony division,” the application said. An expert beekeeper has been hired to look after the apiary.
“The mushrooms will be produced on hardwood logs, inoculated with shiitake spore, and stacked as a low fence in woodland areas of the property,” it continued. “This fall we plan the first planting of narcissus, allium, peony and iris for wholesale cutting flowers. We expect to plant daily lily, hosta and ornamental grasses for sale to the landscape industry.”
The property’s owners have kept goats for many years, the application said, and they’ll be brought to the property once a health permit has been secured and the owners move in, the application said.
“We have discussed the possibility of partnering with a cheesemaker to produce local goat cheese,” it said. “The farm will not be open to the public or have any commercial traffic as sales will be made directly to local restaurants, shops and markets.”
(The application as originally had filed made reference to Japanese maple trees and several types of fruits—apples, pears, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries—but those were later removed.)
Farming is allowed in residential zones by Special Permit under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations (see page 55 here).
The application meets New Canaan’s criteria for a Special Permit, as outlined in the regulations (pages 208 and 209), Town Planner Sarah Carey said in a memo to P&Z. Those criteria include suitable location for use, adequate public utilities and services and long-term viability.
“Minimal site work is needed to prep the property for such usage,” Carey wrote in the memo. “Staff finds that it meets all special permit criteria as outlined in Section 8.2 of our zoning regulations. We received no correspondence from neighbors.”
P&Z is scheduled to take up the application at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Regarding the Special Permit criteria, Rucci noted in the application that each area for farming activity “has been carefully chosen to have low impact on both the existing residence and neighboring properties and consistent with the natural features of the property.”
“The existing sheds and accessory structures will support the farming activities,” the application said. “=The trails already in place connect the current access to the entrance on Brookwood Lane and thus will have no impact on neighboring properties. All drainage and site improvements will be maintained on the subject parcel. A staff of two will be able to support the seasonal requirements of the farm with help brought in during the busiest times of the season.”
A toolshed on the property could be used for a small tractor and, later a 24-by-36-foot greenhouse could be added “to extend the growing season of a vegetable garden,” the application said.
“The development is consistent with the Plan of Conservation and Development in allowing for farming use,” it said. “It promotes open space, protection of wildlife and natural resources. The farm will provide locally grown produce for consumption by the New Canaan community.”
Richard Gere purchased the Brookwood Lane property from Paul Simon last year, according to gossip rags.