‘He Was Like a Beacon’: New Canaanites Remember the Late Cam Hutchins

Among the many words that Whitney Williams uses to describe her friend, the late Cam Hutchins—humble, gifted, creative, solid, thoughtful, unpretentious, honest and diplomatic—is “mischievous.”

Once on a cold day during a boys soccer game, Hutchins snapped a picture of Williams as she sat bundled up in the stands in “one of those sleeping bag coats,” she recalled, with “a terrible hat on” and “screaming” with other parents while cheering on their sons, “just looking awful.”

“He took a picture of me, in particular, looking horrible,” Williams recalled with a laugh. “And every now and then, out of nowhere, this photo would just appear on my phone. He would just send it for no reason whatsoever. And I would just be like, ‘Oh my god.’ It was just his way of saying, ‘Hey, I’m just thinking about you.’ But he’s not going to send a nice picture. He’s going to send a horrible picture.”

Earlier this month, as Williams went with friends and family to visit Hutchins in hospice and say goodbye, she recalled through tears, “I said to him, ‘Cam, still the absolute worst picture I’ve ever seen of me.’ ”

”And he said, ‘I had to take a thousand pictures of you before I got a bad one.’ And I thought: That’s just so Cam.

‘I Will Not Be Harassed Nor Bullied’: Despite Acrimony, Town Council Votes To Create ‘Land Acquisition Fund’

Saying they felt bullied after fellow members of New Canaan’s legislative body took an unusual step to force a specific item onto their meeting agenda, two officers of the elected Town Council on Wednesday night abstained from voting on it. Ultimately, the Town Council voted 7-0 in favor of establishing a “land acquisition fund”—a state law-sanctioned vehicle that’s designed to allow New Canaan to purchase property and use it for open space, recreation or housing. Yet the Town Council’s secretary, Penny Young, and chairman, Bill Walbert, abstained from voting. Originally discussed in January after councilmen John Engel, Kevin Moynihan and Cristina A. Ross argued in favor of its immediate creation, the land acquisition fund item was to be taken up again in March, according to Young, under an agenda set by herself, together with Walbert and the Town Council’s vice chairman, Steve Karl. Under the Town Council’s own rules, if five members of the body sought to add it to the agenda for this month, they could have done so, according to Young.

Selectmen Signal Support for New Canaan Land Trust’s Purchase of Fowler Property

Town officials on Tuesday morning voiced support for a special appropriation to help a local organization dedicated to land conservation acquire a wooded 6-acre parcel now available for purchase. Though the three-person Board of Selectmen stopped short of an official vote—the discussion of the Silvermine Road property came before the trio as a non-voting, informational item—the group spoke in favor of helping the New Canaan Land Trust buy it. At the time of the selectmen’s regular meeting, the Land Trust was seeking $320,000 from the town to close the $1,070,000 purchase (overall, $1.3 million is needed). Selectman Nick Williams said that he was “generally supportive” of the Land Trust’s efforts to acquire what’s called the “Fowler property,” named for its owner, award-winning zoologist and longtime New Canaanite Jim Fowler. “These opportunities do not come along that often,” Williams said at the meeting, held in Town Hall.

Town Urges State Officials To See That Aquarion Land Is Preserved, Not Developed; Public Hearing Scheduled for June 1

Town officials and open space advocates are urging a state agency that oversees utilities in Connecticut to see that the water company doesn’t sell off pieces of a large parcel of untouched land in southwestern New Canaan to developers, but rather ensures its preservation, as-is. Calling Aquarion’s 18.9-acre property an “oasis” of “woods, stream and wetlands” and a wildlife corridor set amid developed 2-acre properties, the chairman of the New Canaan Conservation Commission in a letter this month told the Public Utility Regulatory Authority that his group is “concerned that while Aquarion has worked in recent years to get this parcel designated as ‘forest land,’ allowing it to lower the total appraised value to $239,600, the company now seeks to reverse all of that effort and sell the property off to developers at top rate.”

“Since the Town has always been agreeable to the lower ‘forest land’ tax valuation, we see no reason that this valuation should now change when discussing the parcel’s proposed sale to those who would continue to preserve, not develop, it,” Conservation Commission Chairman Cam Hutchins said in his May 4 letter. “We are dismayed not just at the sudden, fast track turnaround in Aquarion’s stewardship of this oasis, but, if allowed, we are concerned about the message this reversal would convey about the 600 or so acres of other water company land in our town, and even more across the state. Please consider our point of view, which may differ from that being packaged and presented to you by Aquarion.”

Aquarion is proposing the subdivision and sale of a wooded parcel that straddles the Noroton River and is bordered by the points of three dead-ending roads—Indian Waters Drive, Welles Lane and Thurton Drive. After the water company made its intentions public in March, neighbors on Indian Waters rapidly united to voice support for the property’s conservation, and have filed a formal motion to intervene in Aquarion’s application, citing the utility’s intention to use their private road for access to the would-be subdivided lots (more on that below).

‘They Are Trying To Run Roughshod Over The Process’: Aquarion’s Neighbors Issue Cease-and-Desist on Land Sale

Though it aims to subdivide and sell a large piece of untouched land tucked away behind Indian Waters Drive, the water company has no legal way to establish access from that private road and neighbors have issued a cease-and-desist order, one of them told New Canaan’s legislative body last week. Residents of Indian Waters Drive “are urgently trying to keep this as open land for the town” and Aquarion has “ignored us,” Peter Bergen told members of the Town Council during their regular meeting, held Wednesday at Town Hall. “We are prepared to work with the town, to work with the New Canaan Land Trust to try to keep this land open. I think this land is currently assessed at about $13,000 an acre that they are trying to sell for about $1.5 million an acre. So I am urging the town to keep considering this issue, to slow down the process, especially given the legal issues that are ongoing, where we do not believe for a second that they have access at all and they are trying to run roughshod over the process.”

He spoke during a public comments section at the top of the Town Council meeting.