P&Z Chair: Those Advocating for State Affordable Housing Laws ‘Have Largely Ignored’ New Canaan’s Ongoing Efforts

The chair of New Canaan’s Planning & Zoning Commission said during the appointed body’s most recent meeting that he’s given testimony on proposed state legislation regarding affordable housing. The arguments behind “a number of bills” under consideration by the Connecticut General Assembly is “that historical and current zoning regulations have and continue to propagate exclusionary zoning in the state of Connecticut,” John Goodwin said during P&Z’s regular meeting, held March 30 via videoconference. “Meaning the argument is they keep housing costs high and then exclude lower income families from more affluent communities. One of the key bills is Bill 1024 some of the key provisions of that bill is 50% of the downtown area or 50% of an area within a half-mile of a transit station—that is, the New Canaan Train Station, in our case—would be subject to four or more unit housing as-of-right, meaning that if somebody came in and wanted to build a four-unit project there’s little that the Planning & Zoning Commission could do to control that development. In addition there would be no parking requirements for that development.

Divided P&Z Approves October Wedding at The Glass House

Despite concerns voiced by a Planning & Zoning Commission member who lives near The Glass House, the appointed body last week voted 4-2 to allow the organization to host a wedding this fall on its Ponus Ridge campus. Dick Ward, a P&Z commissioner who lives on Winfield Lane, .3 miles from the National Trust for Historic Preservation site, said approval of the Oct. 4 wedding “would, in my opinion, create perhaps an unnecessary and perhaps dangerous precedent, on two levels.”

“One is it’s been our longtime practice that financial considerations are not a criteria to support a Special Permit or an amendment to a Special Permit,” Ward said during P&Z’s regular meeting, held Aug. 25 via videoconference. “And it’s pretty clear that the request is based on a financial concern and I don’t think we want to open that door.

Editorial: P&Z Commissioner Dick Ward Should Recuse Himself from Glass House-Related Matters

Planning & Zoning Commissioner Dick Ward’s continued participation in hearings regarding the Philip Johnson Glass House is unseemly, unhelpful and poses a legal risk to the town. He should recuse himself from related votes and discussions in the future. A neighbor of the Glass House who has faced criticism in the past for refusing to recuse himself when the organization has applied to amend its zoning permit, Ward during P&Z’s July 30 meeting once again spoke out against an application made on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation site. 

He did so unreasonably, unnecessarily and inconsistently with his own past practice as a commissioner. Ward’s Winfield Lane house sits a five-minute walk or two-minute drive from the Glass House property on Ponus Ridge, according to Google Maps. In the past, he has pushed back on the recommendation to recuse himself from Glass House hearings by saying that he doesn’t discuss the organization’s application with others who live in the neighborhood, and that he lives beyond the legally required 100-foot “notification area” for land use applicants.