Town: Land Use Attorney’s Comments Delay Filing of Moratorium Application


Rendering of proposed development at Weed and Elm. Specs by The Eisen Group

A prominent land use attorney’s feedback on the town’s application for relief from a state affordable housing law has delayed its widely anticipated submission, officials say.

In reference to the application for a four-year “moratorium” for the town, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said Tuesday that “after getting some comments from a rather skilled lawyer who wrote the law, we’re going to get that back in very soon.”

The lawyer in question, Tim Hollister, “makes a habit commenting on people’s applications before they’re even filed,” Moynihan told members of the Board of Finance during an update at their regular meeting, held in Town Hall and via videoconference.

“That’s what the public comment period is for,” Moynihan said. “Since he [Hollister] wrote the law, he knows how to use it.”

Tucker Murphy, administrative officer under Moynihan, had said during the April 19 Board of Selectmen meeting that the town anticipated submitting the application two weeks ago (April 28). Then that same week, Hollister, of Hartford-based Hinckley Allen, filed a 10-page memo on the town’s voluminous application, saying it was incomplete and would not be approved by the Connecticut Department of Housing.

Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni, responding to emails from, said that after receiving Hollister’s comments, “the Town Attorney’s office recommended that we take additional time to carefully analyze, and potentially respond to, the legal issues raised by Attorney Hollister.”

“We expect to file the application with the State soon,” Brooks Avni said in an email.

Once the application is received, the state will have up to 90 days to make a decision on it.

Until such time, the town is open to affordable housing applications as outlined under Connecticut General Statutes section 8-30g. 

Hollister is the attorney representing the owner of 751 Weed St., where a 102-unit housing complex—with 31 apartments to be rented as affordable units—is planned. Under the application, the 3.1-acre parcel will get a U-shaped five-story building (one ground-level parking story, itself partially below-ground, plus four stories of residential units) that runs north-south between Weed Street and Kimberly Place.

As Moynihan alluded, Hollister helped draft the state’s affordable housing statute. He sits on a state commission that includes several members of the General Assembly, charged in part with evaluating policies related to housing affordability.

Even if the Planning & Zoning Commission denies the application at Weed and Elm Streets, state law allows for an appeal process for towns like New Canaan where less than 10% of all housing stock qualifies as “affordable”—a threshold municipal officials expect never to achieve— effectively allowing developers to skirt local P&Z regulations when they put in for projects where at least 30% of all units will be rented at affordable rates.

The town had secured four years of relief from such applications by creating a sufficient number of affordable units with the denser redevelopment of the complex at Mill Pond in 2017, and had hoped to chain a second “moratorium” from the state law by similarly redeveloping the Canaan Parish property at Route 123 and Lakeview Avenue. Yet the Canaan Parish project was delayed in early-2019 by financing problems, and then again by the pandemic. 

5 thoughts on “Town: Land Use Attorney’s Comments Delay Filing of Moratorium Application

  1. Why on earth is the town taking comments from Karp’s lawyer who is simultaneously weaponizing the law to terrorize the towns citizenry on behalf of his client Karp? This feels like corruption in plain sight.

  2. New Canaan has lost it‘s charm. What’s next if this is allowed? Our sleepy town is being wakened by those who see money in their pockets & no regard for the people who live & appreciate our Beauty of a New England town. What does it take to realize that the greater the population only invites more congestion & crime.We are joining with big city culture. The tourist’s are coming.

  3. What kind of legal system allows an attorney to help shape a zone breaking state law and then be able to represent a developer to take major financial benefits of that law.
    This should have been challenged and taken to superior court a long time ago. A clear case of conflict of interest on a major scale.

  4. WOW I am shocked beyond belief that our Town Government including the First Selectman is consulting with and working with Arnold Karp’s attorney, Tim Hollister, who helped draft the state’s affordable statute which has the capability to destroy our town. It was one thing when Kevin Moynihan recused himself from this hot topic but now to know our Town is consulting with and working with Tim Hollister on our Housing Moratorium Application. Talk about a major conflict of interest and corruption. We are all screwed if this is the best our Town Government can do. Say goodbye now to the New Canaan we all know and love.

    • Maybe I missed it, but where in the article did it say that the town is consulting with Karp’s lawyer? I read this as the town is adjusting the application based on public comments received from Karp’s attorney.

      The bigger question is who was in charge of the application from the town’s perspective. Between not being able to file timely and bungling the actual content causing more of delay. Total incompetence.

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