Neighbors of Grace Farms Sue Town After Appeal Is Denied

Neighbors of Grace Farms have sued the town over a recent decision regarding its oversight of the Lukes Wood Road organization. 

The town last year issued a zoning permit allowing Grace Farms to convert a storage area in one of its buildings into office space. 

The permit was issued following administrative sign-off by zoning staff, rather than review and approval by the full Planning & Zoning Commission. Neighbors Jennifer Holme and David Markatos said P&Z’s approval was needed and, in January, contested the permit’s issuance. 

The Zoning Board of Appeals at its July 6 meeting voted 5-0 to deny the appeal. On July 26, attorney Amy Souchens of Milford-based Hurwitz, Sagarin, Slossberg & Knuff LLC filed a lawsuit on behalf of the neighbors, saying the ZBA “acted illegally, arbitrarily and in abuse of its discretion.”

Specifically, the permit “was illegally issued” because one condition of the Grace Farms’s own modified operating permit—that “[t]here shall be no material change of the approved use or intensification of any use unless specifically authorized herein”—means P&Z approval was needed, according to the complaint. 

The suit seeks to void the zoning permit and sustain the appeal. 

The ZBA during its July meeting discussed the cited condition at length, and specifically what P&Z meant by “intensification.”

“I really don’t think turning storage space into an office amounts to that,” ZBA member Ben Bilus said during the meeting, held via videoconference. Secretary John Mahoney said that P&Z placed several conditions on Grace Farms’s Special Permit “which limited their ability to grow,” in areas such as parking, hours, events, lighting, food service and noise. The interior change creating office space in the West Barn building at Grace Farms does not represent an “intensification” in the way that P&Z intended to limit, he said.

Professor, Author and Visionary Conservationist Doug Tallamy to Speak in New Canaan

Renowned author, professor and researcher, Doug Tallamy, will speak on the topic of his recently published book, “Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard.” Tallamy is best known for the national conversation he sparked more than a decade ago about the link between healthy ecosystems and human wellbeing. His first book, “Bringing Nature Home”, emphasized the irrefutably significant tie between native plant species, native insects and the rest of the food chain essential for a healthy world. Sponsored by the ten organizations that comprise the New Canaan Pollinator Pathway, Mr. Tallamy’s presentation will offer specific suggestions of how homeowners can turn their properties into conservation corridors and help make a difference for global biodiversity. The event will take place on Tuesday, March 3 at New Canaan Country School Auditorium, 635 Frogtown Road, starting at 7:30 pm (Doors open at 7:00 pm). Tickets are $15.

Songs of the Season

Enjoy a moment of peace and tranquility this holiday season with improvisational arrangements of seasonal music performed by local musicians. These calming selections, along with expansive winter views of our 80-acre preserve, will create a serene environment for reflection and contemplation.

Gifting for Good

As part of our Community Initiative, Grace Farms Foundation invites you to join us for an evening of gift-making merriment. Together as a community, we will assemble winter care packages of blankets, toiletries, and other essential items for local families and children in need. Enjoy music and games as we wrap gifts, write cards, and create crafts to bring cheer during the holiday season. Winter care packages will be distributed in collaboration with the Walter E. Luckett, Jr. Foundation.

December Community Dinner

Enjoy a special meal with friends and neighbors, featuring local performing artists. This affordable dining experience promises expansive views and excellent company. The evening will take place in the River building’s Commons—a 6,900 square foot glass room appointed with social community tables built from trees harvested on the grounds, comfortable sofas, and a coffee bar serving our very own Heavenly Roast.