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.”
In light of St. Marks’decision, as well as the opposition of the surrounding residential neighbors, the time has come for the Boards and management of Waveny and the Historical Society to withdraw their proposed development and reevaluate alternative sites. Further information can be found at http://www.OenokeRidge.com . Please voice your opposition by signing the online petition to Preserve New Canaan.
The decision by the St. Mark’s Vestry leaves me feeling sick. Since at least 1987, good women and men have come up with plan after plan for senior housing only to have it defeated by various NIMBY groups. Meanwhile people are living longer and longer. Some like me (I’m 88) have lived in New Canaan for many decades. We love the town and have worked many volunteer hours to help make it a vibrant and caring place. Now many of my friends have moved away to find the kind of supported housing so many of us need and yearn for. I hoped a Christian institution would have helped such housing become a reality here. Now what?
There are other sites in town that are much more appropriate – would not create traffic hazards and would give our older residents “level” walking access to town.
We might also seriously reconsider a campus on Lapham Rd near the West entrance to Waveny Park and what used to be called Lapham Senior Center, as well as just up the road from Waveny Care Center:
It was vetoed a few years ago but might be reconsidered at this point.
The Mulch pile Yard on Lapham Rd is bordered by a parcel of land to the south that is owned by the town.
Combine the two and we would have a fantastic site for a truly lovely campus . This location would give immediate access to all the amenities that Lapham Center has to offer : movies, discussions, exercise classes, music lessons, bridge lessons, classes in foreign languages … hospitality luncheons – etc. etc. etc. and the joy of Waveny park which includes the Power House and it’s programs, The Town Players, the beautiful gardens , the walking trails etc. etc. and a charming non denominational church at the south corner and be within a mile of medical care at Waveny Care Center. The idea of a trolly on wheels that would run back and forth to town comes to mind as a perfect way to limit more traffic with the dwindling parking spaces we’re experiencing at the moment.
On the other hand …
The Oenoke project would present a dangerous traffic situation on Oenoke. It’s entrance and exit would happen just north of the upper entrance to the Historical Society which is just north of the blind corner of the Historical Society’s Brown House’s yard.
Back in 2009 the area you mention was considered as a possible site for a CCRC. The deeds and surveys were forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General whose office opined that a CCRC was not permissible under the deed restrictions.
Is there a deed restriction on this parcel?
Waveny is divided into 5 parcels (alas, I am out-of-town and so I can’t sift through my old files from 2009). I recall one parcel was deeded for educational purposes, another for medical/health care, and others for recreation. Again, I don’t have the exact wording since I don’t have those deeds in front of me. The parcels are known as “A”, “B”, “C”, “D” and “E”‘.
There are land surveys associated with the whole Waveny campus that I purchased from a reprographics firm in Norwalk. The New Canaan Assessor’s office should be able to direct you to the Book/page of the deeds. Once you have the Book(s)/Page(s), you can go to the Town Clerk’s office and they should be able to assist you with locating the deeds. Hope this helps!
I am dismayed at the position St. Mark’s is taking. I believe that the St. Mark’s campus is already well protected by the over 12 acres of land that it possesses, including a lawn more than the length of a football field that would separate it from the proposed facility that is so desperately needed by the elderly in New Canaan.
I am writing in support of the continuing care facility planned on Oenoke Ridge by the Waveny Care Network. There is a great need for this in New Canaan, as many of us seniors are forced to move out of town if we are interested in that kind of accommodation in our later years, as I am. Moving to one of the two that are closest to us in Stamford or Redding is really the equivalent to moving out of state because you lose contact with your community and friends in New Canaan. I have seen that happen to friends who have moved into these facilities. If New Canaan cares about keeping seniors in the community, building this independent living facility to complement The Inn and Waveny Care Center will be approved. I certainly hope so!