Preservationists Sue P&Z Over Library Approval


Local preservationists on Tuesday sued the town Planning & Zoning Commission over last month’s approval of New Canaan Library’s widely anticipated rebuilding project.

The library also is listed as a defendant in an administrative appeal filed on behalf of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance and K.K.F LLC, a company that owns the Mobil Station property downtown and whose principals own and operate that business.

P&Z’s approval of the library’s applications for a Special Permit and site plan, as well as a new overlay zone in the New Canaan Zoning Regulations and attendant map change, was “illegal, unlawful, arbitrary, capricious and/or an abuse of the power and authority vested in the Commission” under state law, according to the complaint, filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by attorneys Patricia Sullivan and Philip Pires of Bridgeport-based Cohen and Wolf, P.C.

As opponents of the project had argued before P&Z through months of hearings that started after the library’s application came into the town in February, the Commission’s approval runs against parts of a document that guides planning in New Canaan—the continuously updated Plan of Conservation and Development—and Village District Guidelines, according to the complaint. 

P&Z approval also “constitutes spot zoning” and the volunteer body’s decision “was not supported by substantial evidence in the record,” the complaint said.

A marshal delivered the lawsuit to the Town Clerk’s office on Aug. 3.

The plaintiffs are seeking to have P&Z’s approval nullified. The town and library have until Sept. 28 to answer.

According to the complaint, the NCPA “is classically aggrieved because if was formed for the specific, personal interest in preserving buildings and structures of historic and cultural significance in the Town.”

“Moreover, its members include residents and taxpayers of the Town who also have a specific, personal interest in preserving buildings and structures of historic and cultural significance in the Town,” it continued. “Therefore, the Alliance has a specific, personal and legal interest in the subject matter of the Approval, as opposed to a general interest that all members of the community share, and accordingly, the Alliance is classically aggrieved.”

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