Municipal officials two weeks ago issued a partial Certificate of Occupancy for the widely anticipated Merritt Village development on the edge of downtown New Canaan in violation of Connecticut General Statutes, documents show. Issued Nov. 25 by the New Canaan’s chief building official and effective Nov. 27, the partial CO for rental units in the development at Park and Maple Streets did not have legally required sign-off from Planning & Zoning, according to multiple emails sent by Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni that NewCanaanite.com obtained through a public records request. “Pursuant to State Statues and New Canaan Zoning Regulations (Sect.
The owners of a major residential project on the edge of downtown New Canaan are seeking permission to forgo building a fence separating an adjacent development from a planned pedestrian accessway through the property—a proposal those neighbors are pushing back on, officials say. According to an attorney representing the owners of The Vue, an apartment-and-condo complex formerly known as Merritt Village, the fence that was to run off of Mead Street, blocking off the planned walkway from Mead Commons is unsafe and unnecessary. Owner M2 Partners “recently learned that the installation of the fence will result in significantly impairing emergency access to the property,” attorney Steve Finn of Stamford-based Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission in a statement attached to an application to amend conditions of his client’s Special Permit. Citing an April 15 email from Fire Marshal Fred Baker, Finn said “that the emergency accessway from Mead Street is already very restrictive and that construction of the fence ‘would reduce the width further yet, making the driveway all but useless for emergency access.’ ”
Additionally, “the installation of the fence is unnecessary because current landscaping and topography provides more than adequate screening and will serve as a significant deterrent to walkers seeking to gain access to the pedestrian accessway from Mead Commons,” Finn said. “[A] dense landscape buffer” already screens the accessway from Mead Commons “and the topography along the property line is relatively steep,” Finn said.
Two of the four residential buildings at the widely anticipated Merritt Village development on the edge of downtown New Canaan are now framed out, and should be ready for move-in by the end of this year, the project’s developers say. A total of 59 apartments will be available between the two buildings now nearing completion, and 40 condominiums will be available on the other two nearer to Park Street, according to Arnold Karp and Paul Stone of New Canaan-based Karp Associates Inc. The condo buildings will be ready by the spring 2021, they said. “We are on time, we are on budget and the buildings are as attractive as I thought they were going to be, with all the extra time and effort that we spent on design, materials and quality of workmanship,” Karp said Monday morning, standing with Stone in an area amid the buildings that is to become a wide green of open space that wends through Merritt Village, flanked by terraces with benches and fire pits for residents.
“I think when you ask neighbors, I think the general view from the town is that they have digested the project,” Karp said. “They see that it’s not looming over anybody, that it’s well-planned-out and well constructed. We are not going to make everybody happy, but I would say that overall we have gotten only favorable comments, especially in the last several months.”
Located south of Maple Street and east of Park Street, the landmark project received final approval from the Planning & Zoning Commission in November 2016 after several months of emotionally charged public hearings.
Construction is progressing apace at the ‘Merritt Village’ redevelopment, and the frame of the first building in the apartment-and-condo complex will start to go up this week, according to the project’s owner. The widely anticipated 99-unit project on time and on budget, Arnold Karp of property owner M2 Partners LLC said Monday during a walkthrough of the site at Park and Mead Streets. “As developers that’s always the part that you worry about,” Karp said. “With the weather we’ve had different issues but we’ve luckily figured all that into our timing.” When the complex is completed in 2021 it will consist of four buildings, Karp said.
Once assailed by certain neighbors, passersby, zoning officials and opponents of the landmark building project, the Merritt Village retaining walls fronting Park Street now are drawing praise. In the three days since long-planned plants, ivies, shrubs and trees have materialized—hiding the retaining walls as well as breaking them up and distracting from their poured concrete appearance—the developers of the 110-unit condominium-and-apartment complex say they’ve seen a dramatic shift in tone. “The sun is shining, people have three meals a day and everybody has housing,” Arnold Karp of Karp Associates, developer of Merritt Village, told NewCanaanite.com when asked about reactions to the newly landscaped area. “It amazes me now much people have commented and that they actually feel free to comment on something on our project,” he added. “It is absolutely amazing to me.”
They’ve been commenting since last fall, when the first retaining wall appeared along Park Street.