New Canaan’s chief building official has received an objection to the planned demolition of a structure owned by St. Aloysius Catholic Church Corporation.
Town resident Mimi Findlay said the building at 30 Maple St., on the church’s property at 57 South Ave., is a rectory and one of just two “Stick Style” buildings in central New Canaan. Findlay cited a 2012 “New Canaan Historic Resources Inventory” in her letter to Chief Building Official Platz: “Since 1958 this building has served as the convent for St. Aloysius parish. It was built by clothing salesman and New Canaan postmaster Philo A. Thatcher c.1885.
An appointed town body on Monday voted 4-0 in favor of imposing a 90-day delay on the partial demolition of New Canaan Library. Members of the Historical Review Committee during a special meeting said that the original 1913 library meets criteria of local history and architecture as outlined in Section 12-10A of the Town Code. Citing a letter of objection to the library’s recent demo permit application that was filed by New Canaan resident Mimi Findlay, Committee Chair Mark Markiewicz said, “It’s very clear that the original 1913 building has a very compelling history, both socially in the town and architecturally.”
“It also seems like there’s a great potential to repurpose it, which would become a great cultural asset to New Canaan,” he added at the meeting, held in Town Hall and via videoconference. “To use its full footprint including the five rooms that originally were built, I think it offers a lot of opportunities for different events, whether it’s exhibits or music venues or whatever. And its central location is also important.
The town’s chief building official last week received four letters of objection to a proposed demolition at New Canaan Library, according to emails obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request. Three of the objection letters lodged with Chief Building Official Brian Platz appear to assume (incorrectly) that the entire 1913 library building will be razed under the demo plan. In fact the demo itself—as reported here—includes a preservation plan for the legacy building as approved in December by the Planning & Zoning Commission. One of the letters, filed by New Canaan Preservation Alliance’s Mimi Findlay, objects to the “partial demolition of the 1913 library.”
“The original, historic 1913 building consists of a dominant gable-roofed front portion and a subordinate rear portion under a lower hip roof,” Findlay wrote in her letter, filed Friday. “The latter has had its back (west) wall altered for the later additions.
Town officials this week approved a plan to re-install barricades along the north side of Elm Street’s one-way stretch for nearly its entire length. Put in place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the water-filled white barriers will run from the area out front of Patisserie Salzburg to the alley in front of Chef Luis, following a unanimous vote by the Police Commission during a special meeting Tuesday. They’re designed to expand outdoor dining options in New Canaan, and could become part of an effort to widen the sidewalks on that side of Elm Street permanently, even beyond the stretch from South Avenue to the Playhouse whose construction is now underway.
“The weather is starting to warm up and I think it’s time to discuss and hopefully approve more expanded outdoor dining,” Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said during the Commission’s meeting, held via videoconference.
“I know our residents love it and every time I walk up Elm Street I know people are very appreciative of what we can do, he said. “And given that I am starting to see more positive COVID cases in town and starting to see it surge a little bit, I think it’s smart for us to move that forward and expand the outdoor dining as much as possible to support our great restaurants and merchants in town. I think it’s a very appreciated endeavor and I think it’s time to move that forward again.”
Because the town is legally required to preserve an unobstructed four-foot pedestrian way—and cannot, following a complaint of Americans with Disabilities Act violations filed last summer, funnel pedestrians into the street, even if they’re protected by barriers—restaurants will have the option to set up tables in the barricade-protected areas of Elm Street itself, rather than on the sidewalk, according to those who attended the meeting, including municipal department heads from Public Works, Health and Land Use.
The New Canaan Building Department is seeing an approximately 67% increase is in permits issued, officials say. The increase in the number of permits issued, from about 1,500 to 2,500 year-over-year, marks a “huge” jump in activity, according to Chief Building Official Brian Platz. The dramatic rise is due to both the year-plus surge that New Canaan has seen in the residential real estate market, as well as the extension of the natural gas line in town, where every conversion requires a permit, Platz said. “Any time someone sells a house, you do something to prepare fo the sale, or after it’s sold, you put in a new kitchen or master bedroom or something,” Platz told NewCanaanite.com when asked about the activity. “And pools continue to be up there, too.”
The increase in permits issued has led to revenues about $500,000 over projections, Platz said—approximately 60% more than what had been anticipated this year.