‘They Don’t Care’: Moynihan Slams State Over Barrier Issue

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan on Tuesday slammed state officials for not allowing water-filled plastic barriers in front of a restaurant on Main Street, part of the town’s efforts to create more outdoor dining space for food service establishments. 

Designed to create a safe pedestrian walkway where about three parallel parking spots had been, while allowing an Italian restaurant to expand its outdoor dining area under a plan the town adopted two weeks ago, the barriers have been removed by order of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, according to Moynihan. 

Main Street doubles in the heart of downtown New Canaan as state Routes 106 and 124 and the DOT “didn’t like our plastic barriers,” he said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, held via videoconference. 

“In their wisdom, they objected to our plastic barriers and made us remove them,” Moynihan said. “So in this instance, the state government proved themselves to be totally inflexible and despite the efforts by our [General] Assembly people, the DOT operates by their own drummer.”

Asked by Selectman Nick Williams what the state’s reasoning was, Moynihan said, “They only allow concrete barriers on state roads, even though [Public Works Director] Tiger [Mann] tried to prove to them that plastic barriers when filled with water have been tested for safety.”

The Police Commission two weeks ago approved a plan, developed by citizen volunteers, to use the barriers to create “bump-outs” at four locations downtown— on Elm, Forest and Main Streets. Only the Main Street location comes within the state Department of Transportation’s jurisdiction. Restaurants as of May 20 were allowed to offer socially distanced outdoor dining, as per an order from Gov. Ned Lamont, in addition to pickup and delivery. Asked about the matter, Kevin Nursick of the state agency’s Office of Communications said, “With the initial configuration of the barriers, the DOT had safety concerns for both diners and motorists.

Parking Enforcement Ramps Up As Downtown Activity Increases

As New Canaan businesses continue to reopen and draw more visitors downtown, motorists who violate serious parking regulations such as parking in crosswalks, in front of fire hydrants and in designated disabled spaces will receive tickets, officials say. Yet parking in municipal lots remains free, and those overstaying time limits will receive a “courtesy ticket” that amounts to a warning, according to Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg. The system is designed to get shoppers, diners and downtown workers accustomed to the reintroduction of parking enforcement, which officials said had been suspended last month. “Nobody should be parking illegally—we are going to do our best to move people along—but if a car is illegally parked and we can’t get it to move, we will be ticketing,” Miltenberg said. The question of when to start enforcing the two-hour time limits on streets such as Main and Elm is fluid, and will depend largely on how quickly downtown re-fills with visitors.

Richmond Hill Road Homeowner Seeks Permission for Additions

The owner of a 1940-built Richmond Hill Road home is seeking permission to build additions that encroach on side yard setbacks. 

The 1,278-square-foot Colonial at 171 Richmond Hill Road would have 1,801 square feet following a one-story addition in the front and two-story addition in the rear composed off a mudroom, powder room, breakfast room, master bath and two walk-in closets, according to a building permit application submitted to the town. The house sits on .2 acres in the one-acre zone, tax records show. Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, the minimum side yard setback in the one-acre zone for principal and accessory buildings is 25 feet (see page 59 here). Variances are required for the enlargement of non-conforming structures in the zone, under the regulations (page 158). According to a site plan submitted with the application, a proposed one-story addition and covered porch at the front of the house will be 22.3 feet from the neighbor to the west, while a proposed two-story addition and patio in back will be 14.9 feet from a neighbor to the east (the existing house already encroaches on the side yard setback there). 

The property is owned by a limited liability company whose principal is listed in state records as Marianne Dolan.