Grace Farms in seeking to continue using its campus in ways that the town never imagined or approved—and in staking out an untenable legal position to defend its misuse—is rewriting the public record and deliberately misleading planning officials, according to those opposed to a new application from the organization. Contrary to what Grace Farms has said in seeking to amend again its operating permit, and reiterated at a public hearing last month, an entity called ‘Grace Farms Foundation’ never has been granted the right to operate the organization’s 80-acre Lukes Wood Road site, according to a letter filed Friday with the town by an attorney representing concerned neighbors. When local planning officials approved an amended permit nearly four years ago—an approval followed at Grace by the rise of ‘The River’ structure and, in violation of that permit, the wide-ranging programs that operate out of its various buildings—it was to then-property owner Grace Property Holdings LLC “which actively and expressly presented the application to be solely for the benefit of Grace Community Church,” according to a letter filed with the Planning & Zoning Commission by attorney Amy Zabetakis of Darien-based Rucci Law Group. So it’s no wonder that Grace Farms Foundation now wishes to come back to P&Z “to obtain the kind of broad expansion of usage for a range of activities they are now seeking.”
“The current application seeks such an expansive set of activities with so few limitations that it is in essence seeking formal approval to convert Grace Farms from a home for a church, under the existing special permit, into an operation with virtually unrestricted capacity to pursue a myriad of non-profit and for profit and revenue raising initiatives, that happens to be home to a Grace Community Church as well (for so long as the Foundation chooses not to revoke its license),” Zabetakis wrote. “Indeed, Grace Community Church has become the ancillary use.”
P&Z is expected to hear from concerned neighbors and their representatives, including Zabetakis as well as attorney Amy Souchuns of Milford-based Hurwitz Sagarin Slossberg & Knuff LLC, during a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday.