New Canaan Library announced Thursday that it has reopened with “limited express service” for all visitors. The organization has completed its COVID-19 certification “and is taking all measures to ensure everyone’s safety,” a press release said. “Masks are required at all times, and the library asks that all observe distancing,” it said. The news comes days after the library served as a destination for New Canaanites displaced during the day by lack of power, air conditioning and Internet access following a tropical storm that caused widespread and lasting outages.
The library’s hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m Saturday for “express self-service.” The children’s library is open by appointment (see here). Masks must fully cover the nose and mouth while inside the library and patrons must maintain a distance of six feet from others, the library said on its website.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan told the Board of Finance during an update Wednesday night that the utility company did a “miserable job” in handling the aftermath of the tropical storm that struck last Tuesday. Calling Eversource’s performance “miserable,” Moynihan said that municipal officials may testify during hearings in Hartford before the Public Utility Regulatory Authority about what happened. Just 13 New Canaan customers remained without power at the time of the finance board meeting, according to Eversource’s outage map. ***
New Canaan Police on Monday morning received two reports of stolen motor vehicles—on Carter Street and Meadow Lane. In both cases, the keys had been left in the vehicles, police said.
Neighbors of Grace Farms have sued the town over a recent decision regarding its oversight of the Lukes Wood Road organization.
The town last year issued a zoning permit allowing Grace Farms to convert a storage area in one of its buildings into office space.
The permit was issued following administrative sign-off by zoning staff, rather than review and approval by the full Planning & Zoning Commission. Neighbors Jennifer Holme and David Markatos said P&Z’s approval was needed and, in January, contested the permit’s issuance.
The Zoning Board of Appeals at its July 6 meeting voted 5-0 to deny the appeal. On July 26, attorney Amy Souchens of Milford-based Hurwitz, Sagarin, Slossberg & Knuff LLC filed a lawsuit on behalf of the neighbors, saying the ZBA “acted illegally, arbitrarily and in abuse of its discretion.”
Specifically, the permit “was illegally issued” because one condition of the Grace Farms’s own modified operating permit—that “[t]here shall be no material change of the approved use or intensification of any use unless specifically authorized herein”—means P&Z approval was needed, according to the complaint.
The suit seeks to void the zoning permit and sustain the appeal.
The ZBA during its July meeting discussed the cited condition at length, and specifically what P&Z meant by “intensification.”
“I really don’t think turning storage space into an office amounts to that,” ZBA member Ben Bilus said during the meeting, held via videoconference. Secretary John Mahoney said that P&Z placed several conditions on Grace Farms’s Special Permit “which limited their ability to grow,” in areas such as parking, hours, events, lighting, food service and noise. The interior change creating office space in the West Barn building at Grace Farms does not represent an “intensification” in the way that P&Z intended to limit, he said.
As of 9:30 p.m. Sunday, 30.8% of New Canaan homes remained without power, according to Eversource. The figure compares to 3.6% of Darien, 8.8% of Greenwich, 10% of Norwalk, 4.1% of Stamford, 30.1% of Westport and 37.3% of Wilton. Eversource President of Regional Electric Operations Craig Hallstrom said in a statement, “We know how frustrated our customers who still don’t have power are, and we have thousands of utility workers repairing the extensive damage across the state today who are relentless in their determination to restore power for all customers. We hear our customers and community leaders, and we will not rest until this massive restoration effort is complete.”
New Canaan Library said in a Tweet Sunday, “We will be open to the public in limited capacity on Monday and Tuesday for charging, WiFi, and air conditioning.” Update 11:30 p.m. Saturday
New Canaan will have its power back by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Eversource said—more than one week after more than three-quarters of houses here lost it.
Krystyna Blakeslee, a West Road resident who moved to New Canaan two years ago, lost power Tuesday afternoon with more than three-quarters of the town. A lawyer, Blakeslee made her way Wednesday to Town Hall and used its WiFi for work until about midnight, sitting in her car. “It’s par for the course for 2020, I feel like,” Blakeslee said with a smile Thursday. “Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse.”
She joined hundreds of residents who are without power or home Internet or phone access following the powerful winds of a tropical storm that knocked down trees and limbs in New Canaan earlier this week, closing roads and causing widespread outages.
During the day, downtown New Canaan now is overflowing with motorists looking to park and with people sitting on the grass or steps outside Town Hall and New Canaan Library trying to work and communicate with each other during an outage that’s coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. Blakeslee said her cell service at home became “much more spotty than usual” after the storm hit.