Members of the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church vestry are not supportive of a widely discussed housing complex planned for a neighboring parcel on Oenoke Ridge, officials say.
The vestry voted not to support Waveny LifeCare Network’s proposal for “The Oenoke” during a Sept. 22 meeting, according to an email sent to members Tuesday and obtained by NewCanaanite.com.
Its decision “was not reached lightly,” said the email, signed by the Rev. Peter Walsh, rector, Senior Warden Stan Twardy and Junior Warden Mark Thorsheim. The elected vestry is a decision-making body for the church and consists of about a dozen people, according to the St. Mark’s website.
“Concluding that the proposed project would permanently and meaningfully interfere with our campus and impede St. Mark’s ministry, the Vestry voted not to support it,” the email said.
Designed to serve as a residential retirement building that would complement current Waveny offerings including The Inn, The Oenoke is a proposed three-story complex with 28 one-bedroom and 42 two-bedroom units, ranging from 850 to 1,500 square feet. Planned for a parcel south of the May Fair field and including the site of a house that’s owned by the New Canaan Historical Society, it would have an underground parking lot, according to an application on file with Planning & Zoning.
Advocates for the project have said The Oenoke would fill a sorely needed housing gap among New Canaan seniors who want to live independently and close to town, with access to medical and other services.
P&Z was to open Waveny’s application at a special Oct. 2 meeting but it was canceled Sept. 20. P&Z Chairman John Goodwin said during Tuesday night’s regular meeting of the Commission that the application now is expected to come before the appointed body Oct. 29.
Waveny was informed of the vestry’s decision shortly after the meeting, according to the vestry email.
“We have a long and broad shared history,” it said. “St. Mark’s had an instrumental role in the founding of the Inn over 30 years ago, and many of you are Waveny residents, clients, or volunteers. Waveny is a treasured organization in New Canaan.”
The vestry had appointed its own subcommittee to study Waveny’s proposal and gauge its impact on St. Mark’s, the email said. Church members on Aug. 7 had received a letter inviting comments and “[s]hortly thereafter, we engaged counsel with experience in New Canaan property and zoning matters,” it said.
“A special meeting of the Vestry was convened on Tuesday, September 17 at which the subcommittee shared its diligence, and the Vestry began discernment. Taking into account the information provided by the subcommittee, independent review of the application before Planning & Zoning, advice of counsel, and your input, the Vestry engaged in thoughtful and faithful discernment.”