Calling it a “special” situation that merits public vetting, officials on Wednesday set an Oct. 15 hearing date for the proposed sale of a small, town-owned Lukes Wood Road parcel to a family that lives behind it.
Aris and Patricia Kekedjian for about two years have tried different ways to acquire a .1-acre strip of land between their property and the road, so that they can build a stone wall there (to keep their kids and children’s friends away from the street). Public works officials say New Canaan has no use for the land and that the property line is only drawn as it is because it predates any town standard.
Yet there is little precedent for similar property sales, and no rule in New Canaan’s Zoning Regulations or Town Code that facilities such a land transfer. Recently, in a move backed by the Board of Selectmen, the Kekedjians suggested purchasing the 4,447-square-foot property for an (eventually) agreed-upon price of $45,000.
Town Council Vice Chairman Steve Karl said at the group’s regular meeting Monday that rather than rewriting a local ordinance that outright forbids easements onto town property—which had been discussed as one possible way for the Kekedjians to acquire the land—that “this is something that is very special and very unique that needs to be heard by the public and needs to be heard by the Council.”
“This is a one-off experience … it’s not something that we are going to be hearing about on a monthly basis,” Karl said at the meeting, held in the Sturgess Room of the New Canaan Nature Center’s Visitors Center. “It’s a very unique situation and I think it deserves the attention that it will get.”
Department of Public Works Director Michael Pastore said he cannot imagine any public use of the property, for example, for utilities or road work.
“We didn’t know the property even existed until they [theKekedjians] brought it to our attention,” he said.
Karl and others praised the family for coming to the town at all with regard to the proposed stone wall.
Town Council Secretary Kathleen Corbet asked whether Pastore knew of other properties in town in a similar situation.
“I believe there are,” he said, though they haven’t been brought to the town’s attention.
“If these people weren’t building a stone wall, they would make use of that lawn as if it were theirs, and there’s nothing to stop them from doing that,” Pastore said. “So I think these conditions do exist, but nobody brings them to our attention, and frankly, we don’t go looking for them, either.”
When other possible methods of acquiring the parcel had been exhausted, Pastore said, the Kekedjians proposed paying $16,000 to $20,000 for the land—an estimate they based on other small parcel property transfers, he said. The New Canaan assessor judged that square footage was a better measure of the land’s value, and that the figure should be closer to $50,000, Pastore said. Town officials and the Kekedjians then settled on $45,000, he said.
Here’s where 309 Lukes Wood Road is: