New Canaan’s highest elected official on Tuesday said he was surprised that a local resident posted a Craigslist ad offering a contaminant-laden town-owned structure up for free pickup. Calling the ca. 1900 greenhouse at the New Canaan Nature Center “a valuable antique” that’s in “good shape,” the ad was posted to the online marketplace March 17, following the publication of a news article about the Board of Selectmen the prior week approving a contract for its demolition. The ad is titled “FREE Lord & Burnham Greenhouse” and claims that “[a]ccording to Lord & Burnham Representative,” the structure is sound. “[T]his business owner worked on it in the 1980s and grew up near it’s [sic] location,” the ad said.
Saying her objection letter came in too late, the town building official denied a local woman’s bid to stave off demolition of a derelict structure at the New Canaan Nature Center. The Feb. 25 letter that Andrea Sandor sent to the town, objecting to the planned demolition of a ca.-1900 greenhouse, came in four days after a deadline specified in a local ordinance, according to Town Building Official Brian Platz.
Under the ordinance, “If the Town Building Official has received no pertinent written objection to the application within 15 days following publication of the notice in the newspaper, then the Building Official shall issue the demolition permit, provided all other requirements of the State Demolition Code have been satisfied.”
The Nature Center’s notice was published Feb. 6, meaning the objection period expired Feb. 21, Platz told Sandor in an email obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request.
Saying New Canaan must apply more rigorous and objective criteria in vetting residents who offer to volunteer on key boards and commissions, a town woman on Tuesday offered to help create more useful standards for evaluation. Andrea Sandor told members of the Board of Selectmen at their regular meeting that decisions made by groups such as the Planning & Zoning Commission “affect millions and millions of dollars of assets.”
“They affect the whole look of the town,” Sandor said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “P&Z is probably the most important to take a look at in terms of criteria because they have such an impact on neighbors, on residents, on the look and feel of the town. They are one of the key [agencies] but yet the townspeople have little control over P&Z.”
Her comments came as the the board—First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kit Devereaux and Nick Williams—voted unanimously to reappoint three regular and three alternate members of P&Z to three- and two-year terms, respectively: Jean Grzelecki, Kent Turner and Dick Ward, as well as John Kriz, Krista Neilson and Claire Tiscornia. Sandor criticized the current process as overly lax.
A New Canaan woman threatened a Planning & Zoning worker at Town Hall last week, unleashing a profanity-laden tirade that prompted a formal warning from police. At about 12:20 p.m. on Jan. 4, town resident Andrea Sandor, 59, accosted an assistant zoning enforcement officer at the Land Use counter in the lower level of the newly renovated and expanded public building at 77 Main St., according to documents obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a Freedom of Information request. She started by asking questions regarding the burial site at Merritt Apartments and, when the Town Hall worker told her that he couldn’t go into another employee’s emails to retrieve information he did not have at hand, she said, “Of course you don’t because you’re a moron,” according to an incident summary from the victim. As the worker stepped away from the counter, Sandor said again, “That’s right you are a moron,” according to the summary.
Though New Canaan’s tree warden hasn’t yet made a formal decision, and opinions range on what landscaping is best long-term for the front lawn of the renovated and expanded Town Hall, the consensus among those attending a public hearing Tuesday night regarding the Norway maple tree there—including a town woman who originally had objected to the tree’s removal—was to take it down. Tree Warden Bruce Pauley’s idea of removing the Norway maple and planting a sugar maple on either side of the main path up to Town Hall appeals to Dave Hunt, a town resident for nearly 40 years and one of more than 50 people who attended the hearing. Hunt said his first reaction on hearing that the Norway maple was slated for removal was that he hates to lose a big old tree, “same as in my yard.”
“But then I think about [how] we have this quintessential town, and we saved the façade of Town Hall—we really did all the right things, in my mind, to keep that perfect little New England community—and the idea of putting in quintessential New England trees like two sugar maples just seems to fit that to a tee,” Hunt said at the hearing, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department. “Especially given what I am hearing tonight about the issues with this tree.”
Those issues—outlined mostly by New Canaan’s Andrea Sandor, whose objection to Pauley’s posting had prompted the hearing—include that the tree is non-native, appears to be brittle and breaking and has suffered from soil compaction. “The tree has to be taken down—it is hazardous,” Sandor said, citing the “structural opinion” of a master arborist she had retained.