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.

Conservation Commission To Weigh In On Proposal To Develop Aquarion Land

Members of the volunteer municipal body tasked with advising the town on the management and protection of New Canaan’s natural resources said Thursday night that they plan to weigh in on a divisive proposal from the water company to develop a large wooded parcel that straddles the Noroton River watershed. The Conservation Commission’s role is “to gather facts and present our learned opinion to the Town Council about things like this,” the group’s chairman, Cam Hutchins, said during a special meeting, held in a Town Hall board room. “This is something we want to weigh in on, and we are not supposed to be biased, though our bias going in is that open space a good thing.”

Aquarion’s approximately 19-acre property occupies a wildlife- and wetlands-heavy parcel bordered by the points of three dead-ending roads—Indian Waters Drive, Welles Lane and Thurton Drive. Officials with the water company say they have entered an agreement with one neighbor who wants to purchase 8.3 acres contiguous to his or her property, and will pursue a 2-lot subdivision of the roughly 10 remaining acres, with frontage on Indian Waters Drive. Any land sale undertaken by Aquarion requires approval from the state agency that oversees utilities in Connecticut, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.

Letter: Conservation Commission Marks Passing of Andrew Clarkson

To the Editor,

All of us on the New Canaan Conservation Commission were sorry to hear about Andrew Clarkson’s recent passing. His philanthropic activities, as administered through the Jeniam Foundation, have always provided the right help at the right time, and his strong dedication to conservation and community enhancement has been extremely beneficial to our town. Thanks to support from the Jeniam Foundation, the Conservation Commission was able to procure our most recent Open Space Map for the Town of New Canaan, and the Foundation has always been open to listening to our plans and initiatives. On behalf of all us, and of the town in which we serve, we thank Andrew for his many years of wise generosity. Sincerely,

Cam Hutchins—Chairman

Susan Sweitzer—Secretary

Linda Andros, Heather Lauver and Robin O’Connell—Commissioners

NCHS Seniors Thank Parent Post-Prom Volunteers for Wonderful Night

In New Canaan, Senior Prom Night is more than a few awkward pictures taken by parents as high schoolers make their way out the door and onto the dance floor. Many of the memories of Senior Prom begin after the prom is over at the Annual Post Prom held at the Waveny House. Last Friday night, the doors opened at 11:59 p.m. and food, games, shows, and raffles continued on until the sun was rising at 5 a.m. The theme of the night was Flashback Friday in which the seniors were taken on a journey through their childhood in New Canaan. The New Canaan High School class of 2015 would like to thank all of the parents that spent over a year putting together this unforgettable night. The event was organized by Post Prom Chairs Whitney Legard Williams, Cam Hutchins, and Sue Kammler, along with many other parent volunteers.