4 thoughts on “Silvermine Road Neighbors Voice Traffic, Safety Concerns Regarding Application for Home Medical Office

  1. RESUBMITTING with name spelling corrections:
    I am one of the opposing neighbors, and I therefore feel compelled to correct some of the mischaracterizations included in this article as well as during the hearing. We were made aware of this special permit application via receipt of a copy of the document in the mail, including notice that we could appear and comment at the P&Z meeting. The letter was mailed to us approximately a week before the meeting. We then consulted with our realtor and a land use attorney to understand the possible implications, having never before encountered a Major Home Occupation permit application in our seven years of living in New Canaan. We also communicated with four of the other abutting neighbors included on the application to understand their viewpoints. All expressed concern about increased traffic and decreased privacy in our residential area. One neighbor sent an email on behalf of our entire group to the Berchelmanns relaying our universal opposition to the special permit request. We also submitted to P&Z a written opposition letter, which is publicly available, in advance of the meeting. Our concerns and opposition should not have been a surprise to any of the parties involved as we made every effort to be fully transparent and forthcoming regarding our opposition. Concerningly, there are many inconsistencies communicated in the intended use of the clinic. To see two patients a week, as the Berchelmanns state as their intention, is well within their rights and current zoning. Anything more than 5 patients a week triggers the need to rezone, which we are strongly opposed to. I should note that the application mentions 8 available parking spots on the property, although during the hearing, the number was verbalized as 6. The written application notes one employee of the clinic, but during the hearing, two additional interns were added to the organization for a total of 3 non-resident employees. Most concerningly, the driveway leading to the home requesting the permit is on a narrow, one-way private, shared easement, which is quite dark in the winter, and runs closely between two homes with children and pets, including my own. For six stops a day, our driveways serve as the bus stops for NCPS’ three tiers of school busses. Therefore the driveways are not appropriate for commercial purposes. There is ample commercial space in our town and surrounding towns without rezoning residential areas and introducing more traffic where many children live. While P&Z has held the permit open for further consideration, we remain firmly opposed, and would like to clarify that there are no conditions under which we would support this Major Home Occupation permit as it would unnecessarily impose traffic dangers on the surrounding neighbors. We are disappointed that we must continue to dedicate time and resources to supporting our current residential zoning laws that are explicitly designed to protect the safety and privacy of residents in their homes and yards.

    • What mischaracterizations in the article?

      If you’re saying the applicant mischaracterized something during the hearing, that’s one thing. But all I can do as a reporter is transcribe accurately what people say at these public hearings. Has someone been misquoted?

      Rules about formally notifying neighbors when applications go into Planning & Zoning are spelled out in state law and local regulations. If you want to lodge a complaint that your neighbors ran afoul of those, or that the applicant was not forthcoming during the public hearing, then the time to do that is during the hearing itself or in a formal letter to P&Z.

      Thank you for submitting your comment.

      • Thank you for your response. To clarify, I am aware of the P&Z rules about formally notifying neighbors regarding applications. Your article quotes Kathleen Berchelmann as saying ““This is the first we’ve heard any of these concerns from the neighborhood,” which I also recall hearing during the meeting. As I explained above, the Berchelmanns did not reach out to us to informally gauge support. But, upon receipt of the application, our neighbors did, in fact, communicate our opposition to the Berchelmanns in advance of the meeting through an email (which they responded to), and through our formal letter of opposition. For further context, a P&Z representative had asked our attorney to have our group limit our comments to one representative of the group, presumably because they anticipated that the Library topic would require much of the meeting time. We didn’t feel comfortable selecting just one speaker, as multiple families are opposed to the special permit and felt strongly about using the hearing to communicate that sentiment on behalf of their families. Even so, it didn’t feel appropriate to interrupt and point out the many inconsistencies expressed in the written application and those verbalized during the meeting, some of which characterized the nature of the business and communicated conflicting intentions in terms of services offered, number of employees, number of patients anticipated, and number or parking spots. As the commission is holding open the application, I feel compelled to clarify now, for the greater Silvermine neighborhood that is only now becoming aware of this application, that the written application currently on file is not fully reflective of the details communicated at the hearing and reported in this article.

        • But information made public at the hearing about the projected number of employees, patient visits and parking is already in this article—at least as presented by the applicant during Greg Berchelmann’s opening remarks and in response to questions from commissioners.

          Also, you reference “the greater Silvermine neighborhood that is only now becoming aware of this application,” but state Rep. Lucy Dathan in addressing P&Z said she had been contacted by the Silvermine Community Association, that they’d “reached out to me with concerns over this,” and then voiced those concerns.

          Also, I did see your/the neighbors’ letter (dated Monday) voicing the same concerns raised during the public hearing. However, that letter is addressed to the town planner and Commission. The Berchelmanns are not listed as recipients. So the letter itself, at least to me, didn’t mean Dr. Berchelmann is misstating anything when she said she was surprised to hear objections for the first time.

          Again, as a reporter covering a public meeting it’s not my job—at least in producing a news story, rather than an editorial/opinion piece—to judge whether those addressing a municipal body are mischaracterizing things. I’m just there to write down what is said, what is presented, how votes go (if there are any) and report back to our readers. It’s not unusual for neighbors to voice concerns when people want to do something dramatically different with their property. Here are some examples. Here’s one from November. I don’t think it would be rude to correct the record if you find that there’s an inconsistency, and that also would then become reportable information by me/local press.

          Thank you again for your comment/response.

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