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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.
Responding to an inquiry about a lack of uniformity, officials said the reason Belgian blocks laid around sidewalk trees in downtown New Canaan have different patterns is because the trees themselves grow at different rates. Some trees also have roots that rise from the ground, which leads town workers to remove the blocks and open up the tree well, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “It’s very difficult to keep it as a uniform three-by-three-by-three,” Mann said during a recent meeting of a Planning & Zoning Commission subcommittee. “It’s just not possible.”
“The original design was made for the brick and then inside the tree well there was going to be small Belgian blocks, the little squares. Basically they were designed to be tucked up against the tree trunk, and then as the tree grows, you start to remove the Belgian block to open up the tree well.
Though the “alternative high school” is up and running in downtown New Canaan, town officials last week were prevented from approving a site plan that would formally allow it because of the district’s failure to properly notify neighboring property owners. The Planning & Zoning Commission must “give the public the opportunity next month to address” the district’s location of the alternative high school in 800 square feet of space on the second floor of the same building that New Canaan Public Schools administrators occupy on the corner of Forest Street and Locust Avenue, according to P&Z Chairman John Goodwin. “This Commission’s responsibility is for use and land use and so, whether you like it or not, we are part of the checks and balances process of this town,” Goodwin told Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi at the Commission’s regular meeting, held Sept. 25 at Town Hall.
Turning to his fellow commissioners, he added: “We cannot vote on this tonight, since notices did not go out in time. Normally we would not have opened the application, given the timing issues.”
Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, properties in the Retail B zone may be used as a “municipal facility,” including a school, with site plan approval by P&Z.
Despite some concerns regarding outdoor lighting, members of the Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday night voted unanimously to allow a hot dog-themed restaurant to open in a commercial space in downtown New Canaan. To be located down the “alley” at the top of Elm Street—formerly occupied by New Canaan Music (now on Main Street), near the former Chef Luis restaurant—the new establishment, “White Buffalo,” will include a 13-stool bar and rows of two-person tables that bring the total seating to about 35 to 40 people, according to New Canaan resident Dave Tonkovich, one of three local men who is launching the business. A 1993 New Canaan High School graduate along with business partner Dom Valente—town resident Doug Harris is also an owner—Tonkovich described White Buffalo as a “place where New Canaan as a community can gather and support each other, whether that is having our teams over after a game, hosting a fundraiser for the lacrosse or hockey team, or honoring our local Police Department or Fire Department.”
“We feel like this is something the town needs,” Tonkovich said during a public hearing at Town Hall. “You might say it is built by New Canaan, for New Canaan.”
Tonkovich reviewed some national hot dog consumption data and said that White Buffalo is designed to “fit the bill” for locals meeting after a game or with a friend or client “or when you are coming off the train.”
“Our goal is not to be all things to all people,” he said. Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, restaurants are permitted in the Retail A zone with site plan approval. After some discussion, P&Z approved White Buffalo’s site plan 7-0.