P&Z Sued Over Rilling Ridge Tennis Court Denial

A New Canaan woman on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Planning & Zoning Commission, saying the appointed body erred in denying her application to build a tennis court on her property. According to the complaint filed in state Superior Court on behalf of Amy Tucci of 57 Rilling Ridge, P&Z’s denial during a July 26 special meeting was “illegal, unlawful, arbitrary and capricious.”

“The Defendant Commission ignored and acted in a manner that is inconsistent with and violates the procedural and substantive requirements and provisions of the Zoning Regulations, the Connecticut General Statutes and the common law of the State of Connecticut,” attorney Joel Green of Bridgeport-based Law Offices of Green and Gross, P.C. wrote in the complaint. 

P&Z also “failed to make proper findings of fact and failed to identify sufficient or adequate reasons for its actions,” the complaint said. The application and proposed tennis court “fully comply with the requirements, standards and conditions necessary for the approval of the application pursuant to the Zoning Regulations,” it said. The lawsuit seeks to overturn P&Z’s decision and to award legal costs and “such other and further relief as the Court may determine.”

The Commission’s decision to deny the application was itself a divided vote. 

Tucci—who originally had filed an application to operate a boutique commercial gym at home (later withdrawn)—applied to P&Z for a Special Permit that would allow a tennis court to be located within a 150 feet of the street (see page 55 here), and for a second permit allowing for soil disturbance of more than 10,000 square feet of area in order to (page 149). While some commissioners argued that P&Z has approved applications for similar Special Permits in the past and noted that the court is designed to be just 52-by-115 feet (versus a standard size of 60-by-120), others said it’s inappropriate to approve a tennis court in the front yard and found that the application didn’t meet all Special Permit criteria.

P&Z Approves Dunkin Donuts’ Move to South & Elm

The Planning & Zoning Commission last week approved a proposal from Dunkin Donuts to move from its current location on Elm Street down to the intersection at South Avenue. 

P&Z during a regular meeting held June 28 voted 9-0 in favor of a site plan application for 44 Elm St., former site of the CBD Store. The new location will double the coffee shop’s space in a newly designed interior with windows overlooking two streets, according to Jim Cain, representing the applicant. 

“Basically just continue 25 years of awesome service in the town of New Canaan which we’ve had the pleasure of doing business there,” Cain told members of P&Z. Commission Chair John Goodwin, Secretary Krista Neilson and members Kent Turner, Dick Ward, John Kriz, Claire Tiscornia, John Engel, James Basch and Paul Knag voted in favor of the application. Commissioners Dan Radman, Arthur Casevant and Chris Hering were absent. P&Z members asked Cain and owner’s rep Paul Stone what happened to plans to move across Elm to a commercial space next to the Playhouse (there was a need to increase the power capability there which scuttled that plan), what will happen with mezzanine level that had been in the CBD Store (it will be demolished), whether the basement will be open to the public (no), whether the fit-out will be ADA-compliant (yes), how the exterior door to South Avenue will be used (for deliveries), whether customers will use that door (no customers will come and go from Elm Street), what sort of illumination will be used (it will conform to the Planning & Zoning Regulations), whether there will be outdoor seating (that will be planned in the future) and how the store will get rid of its garbage (there will be multiple pickups during the day by way of the South Avenue door). 

Commissioners also urged Cain to use tasteful sandwich boards and ensure the area around the store is clean.

‘I’m Kind of Scratching My Head’: Councilmen Question 1913 Building-Related Clause in Draft Agreement Between Town, Library

The Board of Selectmen created new problems for New Canaan Library and its estimated $35 million rebuilding plan by reopening questions regarding preservation of its original 1913 building without the organization’s knowledge, members of the town’s legislative body said last week. Last March, the Town Council voted down a motion that would have effectively halted the library’s project for one year so that preservationists could figure out a use for the 1913 building and fundraise for its restoration and maintenance. The library is seeking a $10 million contribution from the town toward the project and is fundraising the balance. Yet it came to light last week that a draft agreement between the town and library—a Memorandum of Understanding or “MOU” that the selectmen approved and that now is making its way to the Board of Finance and, eventually, Town Council—includes a new clause that allows for a decision on whether to demolish the original 1913 library building to be put off for at least two years during construction. “I was surprised to see that paragraph in there, in the MOU, because I thought the MOU after waiting which is six months—you could actually say a year—where we emotionally came to the decision that we did,” Councilman Steve Karl said during the elected body’s regular meeting, held Feb.