Divided P&Z Nears Decision on Library

During their seventh hearing on New Canaan Library’s application to rebuild its facility, members of the Planning & Zoning Commission last week set up a vote between two options regarding the fate of what remains of an original library building. One of them, tagged “Option A” and developed mainly by P&Z Chair John Goodwin, would allow for the library project to commence and, one year in, the organization would present options to P&Z to “appropriately commemorate” the 1913 building and 1936 addition. “It is the assumption that significant aspects of the 1913 and/or 1936 building will be preserved in some meaningful way on the site,” according to the language of the draft approval, obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request. The other, “Option B,” developed mainly by Commissioner Dan Radman, calls for construction to be put off until the library has submitted a plan to “incorporate and integrate” the east and north facades and roof of the old buildings so that they’re “maintained on the site in a location satisfactory to the Commission.” If there’s “no feasible way” to do that, the project can start without a plan for preservation, under draft Option B.

As drafted for the start of the meeting, neither scenario meets the standard set by a preservation group that has said the 1913 building must be restored—that is, its southern and western walls re-closed—and remain in place. Library officials last month said they’d be willing to preserve and move the Main Street-facing portico and facade of the 1913 building to the western property line. 

The language in both options is expected to undergo revision based on the commissioners’ discussion at the 4.5-hour meeting, held June 29 via videoconference.

Newly Formed ‘Blight Review Board’ Elects Officials, Define Priorities

A newly created committee designed to help residents who may be struggling to maintain their properties met met for the first time last week to elect officers and discuss its work. The Blight Review Board will help homeowners with problems such as overgrown yards, unraked leaves or deteriorating houses so they can correct those conditions rather than get punished for them, according to Chief Building Official Brian Platz, who had advocated for creation of the appointed body. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan presided over the meeting, held Thursday at Town Hall. During the 45-minute meeting, Brock Saxe was unanimously elected chairman and Paul Tully secretary. Saxe is a commerical real estate professional with Halstead and Tombrock Corporation, while Tully is a real estate and construction professional.

P&Z Votes 7-1 To Approve Downtown Pocket Park as Site of Summer Theatre of New Canaan 2019 Season

Saying they understood it was a risk in some ways and imposing several conditions to help mitigate them, members of the Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday night voted 7-1 to approve the Summer Theatre of New Canaan’s application to set up for its 2019 season in a pocket park downtown. Summer Theatre, or ‘STONC,’ will set up its 60-by-90-foot amphitheater-style tent on a .19-acre parcel known as “Christine’s Garden” on the corner of South Avenue and Maple Street, owned by New Canaan Library. 

P&Z Chairman John Goodwin said he recognized that STONC’s plan, which includes locating the 200-person tent as well as trailers, port-o-potties, and a covered box office on and around the library property, with parking to be located in the Center School lot, was “aggressive.”

“And I would also argue that we allow certain other activities in certain other places in town where we are giving them a fair amount of latitude,” Goodwin said during the public hearing, held at Town Hall. “This is not the first time. But I also feel that this is potentially a big positive to the town by moving it downtown. If it logistically works, I think it’s way better than it is out in Waveny.

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P&Z Denies Plan for Roger Sherman Inn, Developer Vows To Appeal

Saying the proposed redevelopment of the Roger Sherman Inn is wrong for its neighborhood and that changes to the New Canaan Zoning Regulations would need to undergo to allow it are too site-specific, officials on Tuesday night by a 7-2 vote denied a plan to replace the Roger Sherman Inn with six single-family homes. Though changing the use of 195 Oenoke Ridge Road from a business to a residence normally would make it more conforming to the regulations, the plan as proposed isn’t “a good trade here, for a lot of reasons” beyond its excessive density, according to Planning & Zoning Commissioner Bill Redman. “One is, it is certainly not like the Maples Inn from years ago, it’s not the same look and feel,” Redman said during a regular meeting of P&Z, held at Town Hall. “Things have changed around town in terms of the types of housing that have gone in. I don’t want to give false hope by saying, ‘Come in with something different.’ I don’t feel that way.

Divided P&Z Disagrees on Whether Roger Sherman Proposal Meets Seldom-Cited Zoning Provision

The hopeful developer of the Roger Sherman Inn site has a strong track record as a builder, the chairman of the New Canaan Planning & Zoning Commission said last week, and turning down his application to create six new homes on the highly visible 1.8-acre property could open up the town to an even denser re-development. Yet New Canaan already is slated to see smaller dwellings—for example, for seniors seeking manageable “in-town” quarters—through mixed-use developments and the Merritt Village apartment-and-condo complex, according to P&Z Chairman John Goodwin. “I am a little worried about do we continue to allow non-single family housing to push its way outward?” Goodwin said at the Feb. 28 P&Z meeting, held in Town Hall. “And I am worried that it potentially could set a precedent that other developers could use.”

He referred to proposed additions to a section of the New Canaan Zoning Regulations under which developer Andrew Glazer of Rowayton-based Glazer Group has applied to create six dwellings where the old inn and restaurant now stand (including converting the oldest part of the Roger Sherman into one of those units, though physically moving it closer to Oenoke Ridge Road).