[Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected to show that the site in question is in the half-acre zone, not the two-acre zone as originally reported. The date of the P&Z hearing also has been corrected to Nov. 19, not Nov. 20.]
The proposed senior housing complex on Oenoke Ridge is inconsistent with New Canaan’s regulations and violates some precepts of the town’s guiding document with respect to planning, according to representatives of one neighboring organization. Waveny LifeCare Network’s application for a 70-unit residential retirement building also requires approval of changes to the New Canaan Zoning Regulation that amount to “spot zoning,” attorney Steve Finn, representing St.
The town will hold a public meeting next month to gather input on an application for a proposed cell tower on private property in northeastern New Canaan, officials said Tuesday night. A joint public meeting is to be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20 regarding the application for an 85-foot-high “monopine” tower at 183 Soundview Lane, according to Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman John Goodwin. The meeting will be run jointly by P&Z and the Board of Selectmen, and will include representatives from wireless infrastructure consulting firm Homeland Towers, which put together an application with AT&T that is to be filed with the state agency that oversees telecommunications, Goodwin said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. It will mark the first time P&Z holds such a meeting since adopting regulations last year whereby those submitting applications to the state Siting Council “are strongly encouraged” to meet with P&Z to review the need for the facility, alternate sites and the location of schools “and places of public assembly” nearby (see page 166 here).
Saying he would have voiced the very same concerns regarding a recent application to the Planning & Zoning Commission even if he didn’t live near the site in question, a member of the appointed group on Tuesday night nevertheless recused himself from further discussion or voting on the matter. P&Z Commissioner Dick Ward cited an editorial published this week “basically asking me to recuse myself with respect to the Glass House application,” and said he was “willing to do so,” though he also noted that his Winfield Lane home does not fall within the formal 100-foot notification area as required under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations.
“I did receive a letter from the Glass House several months ago simply mentioning that they were holding a meeting for some neighbors, and I think it said that I was invited to attend, which I did not,” Ward said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “I don’t want the mere fact that you may live in the mere area of the applicant to somehow become a precedent that, whether you are a neighbor or not, just because you may live in the area, you have to recuse yourself,” Ward added by way of making his own recusal. “I think it’s a choice that should be made by the individual commissioner. Clearly, if you are a member of some club and there is an application from the club or something like that, you have an obvious conflict of interest.
Town officials on Tuesday night called for those proposing a new residential retirement building on Oenoke Ridge Road to include details in making their formal application later this summer in areas such as building materials, colors, elevations, lighting, noise-generators, sustainability and renderings such as a 3-D computerized model that will provide a sense of scale. Members of the Planning & Zoning Commission during their regular meeting also asked representatives for Waveny LifeCare Network to provide details on landscaping materials and retaining walls. Commissioner John Kriz said he was concerned that “The Oenoke”—a 70-unit building of one- and two-bedroom apartments that residents would buy into as part of New Canaan’s “Continuing Care Retirement Community”—would loom over its neighbors and “cast a shadow,” and asked that Waveny “be sensitive” to the historic nature of the abutting New Canaan Historical Society property as well as the “well-attended” St. Mark’s Church on the northern side. Kriz asked that the architects use fieldstone “as opposed to something else,” for example, and avoid using aluminum siding.
Town officials are weighing proposed zoning regulations that could require the owners of properties let out for short-term rentals to obtain a zoning permit first. The proposed regulations, now in draft form before the Planning & Zoning Commission, could come to a public hearing next month, officials said. Obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a Freedom of Information Act request, the draft proposal would see P&Z regulate short-term rentals as an accessory use, not a primary use, in residential districts. Specifically, a “minor short-term rental” would be defined as “the temporary rental or part or all of a residential property for fewer than 30 consecutive nights at a time, for no more than three times in a six-month period, for which the guest compensates the owner of the property.”
Such “minor short-term rentals” would occur no more than three times in a six-month period and would be required to meet Housing Code occupancy requirements, to be used for lodging only—as opposed to activities such as parties, fundraisers, photo shoots or corporate retreats—and must not “materially disrupt the residential character of the neighborhood,” according to the draft. Commissioner Krista Neilson, who has taken a lead on helping draft the regulations along with Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni, said that in some ways the language is designed to give more discretion to a zoning enforcement officer who might be faced with difficult situations and the prospect of resigning the requirement zoning permits.
Another part of the draft regulation specifies that the zoning permit, which would expire after one year, could be revoked if the rental “imposed a nuisance on neighbors.”
Brooks Avni noted that it would important to have “some sort of threshold about what the nuisance might be.”
“Just because they are bothered by the fact that a neighbor is renting, that might be their nuisance but if it’s allowed then it’s not really a nuisance,” she said during P&Z’s regular meeting, held April 30 at Town Hall.