Moynihan: Town ‘Led To Believe’ State Will Grant Affordable Housing Moratorium

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said this week that state officials have led the town to believe it will receive four years of relief from a widely discussed affordable housing law. After saying in June that New Canaan did not qualify for a moratorium, Moynihan said in late July that the town had, in fact, filed its application for four years of relief from state statute 8-30g, kickstarting a 90-day statutory review period. 

Under the statute, in towns where less than 10% of all housing stock qualifies as “affordable,” by the state’s definition, developers can skirt local planning decisions in projects that set aside a certain percentage of units at below-market rates. The town had qualified for one such moratorium in 2017, with the denser redevelopment of New Canaan Housing Authority-owned apartments Millport Avenue, and hoped to qualify for another through the redevelopment of the Canaan Parish complex at Lakeview Avenue and Route 123, which was partially completed last October. 

During Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Moynihan said, “We expect to get our moratorium on November first. I think that that is the end of the 90-day period.”

“We’ve been told by—led to believe, I would say, by the Housing Department that we are going to get our moratorium,” Moynihan added at the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “If that does not occur then that will be ‘all bets off’ in terms of where we are.”

The comments came during a portion of the meeting set aside for general matters before the town.

Town Hires Former ‘New Canaan Advertiser’ Editor as Full-Time Grant Writer

The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of hiring a former local news editor to fill the new full-time town position of grant writer. Greg Reilly had worked from 2013 to 2018 as a reporter and editor with two newspapers owned by Hearst Connecticut Media/HAN Network, including the New Canaan Advertiser. “There are a lot of grants out there that we have not applied for that we are eligible for,” the town’s human resources director, Cheryl Pickering Jones, told the selectmen during their regular meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “And so we are hoping with Greg’s assistance that we will be able to open up some of those doors and apply for some of those grants.”

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of the hiring. Reilly said he’s been working full-time for the town of Stratford as a grant writer with “good success.”

“I think the short story is that we have learned here that the skills of a journalist apply very nicely to those needed for grant-writing,” Reilly, a Stratford resident, said via Zoom.

Selectmen Williams, Corbet Call for Reinstitution of New Canaan Utilities Commission

Nearly five years after New Canaan’s highest elected official did away with the municipal Utilities Commission by declining to appoint new members, some town officials are calling for its reinstitution. 

In December 2017, one month after winning the first selectman race by 33 votes, Kevin Moynihan said that he wished to dissolve the Utilities Commission while redistributing some of its responsibilities—such as cell coverage, natural gas and solar energy. 

Tom Tesluk, then-chair of the Utilities Commission, had resigned the day after Moynihan narrowly defeated Kit Devereaux. And though Devereaux, who went on to serve as a selectman, argued in favor of preserving the Commission, the volunteer body’s last meeting agenda was posted in December 2018. 

During the Board of Selectmen’s Sept. 20 meeting, Selectman Nick Williams said, “We had talked about repurposing or getting back to a Utilities Commission at some point and I bring that up in the context of the cell phone towers because I think that’s an issue that a robust Utilities Commission could tackle and Lord knows in this town we’ve got experts all over the place that could help out with something like that.”

His comments came during a portion the meeting dedicated to general matters before the town. Moynihan responded that he had attended all meetings of the Utilities Commission for four years while serving on the Town Council “to bird dog cell service.”

This exchange followed:
Moynihan: And Tom Tesluk resigned the day after the election. Williams: So we just gave up?

‘There Are a Lot of Questions’: Selectman Williams Pushes Back on West School Cell Tower Plan

Though New Canaan’s highest-elected official has charted a course for approving a cell tower behind West School, it’s unclear whether his colleagues on the Board of Selectmen will approve a lease to make the new infrastructure possible. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan at the Board’s Sept. 6 meeting called for the Planning & Zoning Commission to decide between a tower 1,000 feet behind the Ponus Ridge school and another, taller one further out. Yet at the Board’s Sept. 20 meeting, Selectmen Nick Williams and Kathleen Corbet did not commit—and in some cases, raised questions about—the prospect of approving a lease with the cellular infrastructure firm proposing a 125-foot “monopine” tower for West School. 

“Why would we be pushing stuff to Planning and Zoning and to the Town Council and other public bodies when we as a group have not gone on record as for or against?” Williams said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. 

He added, “To be clear: There is going to be no cell phone tower put up anywhere unless we approve it as a Board of Selectmen.”

The discussion came during a section of the meeting where the selectmen weigh in on general matters before the town.