Silver Hill Seeks To Rebuild Admissions Building for Greater Privacy, Reduce Traffic on Valley Road

Saying its plan would increase privacy for new patients, decrease neighborhood traffic and further beautify a big chunk of its 44-acre campus, Silver Hill Hospital is applying to the town for a multi-faceted permit that touches on buildings, parking, landscaping, lighting and traffic. Dealing solely with the psychiatric hospital’s 23 acres west of Valley Road, the “Campus Enhancement Plan” calls for a rebuilt admissions building, increased parking, newly configured driveways and walkways, and landscaping improvements described as similar to “a Connecticut country estate,” according to a special permit application filed on behalf of Silver Hill by attorney Michael Sweeney, a partner at Stamford’s Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP. While parts of the plan would more than double the size of the admissions building, known as “Grey House,” and increase parking by 36 percent, to 193 total spaces, it also includes a comprehensive landscaping plan that offers screening and would reduce the curb cuts off of Valley Road’s west side from five to two, with newly aligned locations that would allow vehicles traveling to the eastern campus to shoot straight across the road instead of traveling up or down it, the application said. The proposed changes “will not adversely affect neighboring buildings or properties,” according to the application, filed with Planning & Zoning. “The proposed Admissions Building is residential in appearance and will physically complement, and is compatible with, the existing buildings on the Sivler Hill property and in the surrounding neighborhood.

Owners of Historic, Prominent New Canaan Home Seek Subdivision That Would Protect It

The longtime owners of an iconic and prominent New Canaan house—a home that historians say was the first in town to be lighted by gas, in the 1870s—are seeking special permission to subdivide their 1.8-acre lot in order to preserve the historic structure. Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, there isn’t quite enough buildable land at 528 Main St. to carve out a second parcel within the lot that includes the stately white mid-Victorian-style villa home that historians date to about 1852. Yet by expanding a section of the zoning regulations that deals with historic preservation—specifically, to offer some relief from density requirements, as that relief exists now for dimensions and total area—New Canaan could “allow for preservation of a special and significant dwelling and a piece of our history that would otherwise be lost,” according to Michael Sweeney, an attorney with Stamford-based Carmody, Torrance, Sandak & Hennessey LLP. The homes owners for 18 years, Thomas and Marianne Reifenheiser (it’s been in the family since 1946) “have tried to sell the property over the past seven or eight years, and really without success,” Sweeney told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission during their Nov.

‘That’s Unfortunate’: P&Z Implores Valley Road Hospital, Neighbor To End Land Use Dispute

Though two major sides in a land use and legal battle dating back two-plus years have worked hard to reach an agreement, a neighbor whose home directly abuts the Valley Road property at the center of the dispute—who also sits on the Planning & Zoning Commission—appears not to be satisfied, following comments made at a public meeting this week. It’s been three years since Silver Hill Hospital purchased the 1998-built Colonial at 225 Valley Road for $2.5 million, tax records show. Months later, the psychiatric hospital applied to P&Z for site plan and special permit approval in order to renovate and use it as a residential medical treatment facility. P&Z in November 2013 denied the application by a 6-3 vote. Three weeks later, the hospital filed a lawsuit claiming P&Z acted “arbitrarily” and “illegally” in doing so.

Planning Officials Flag Safety Concern in Traffic Circulation at Proposed Post Office

Planning officials said Monday night that they’re concerned that a plan to allow one-way entrance circulation on the east side of a proposed new Post Office on Locust Avenue with two-way traffic on the west side—as opposed to, say, a single entrance on one side of the building and exit on the other—will create safety hazards that could create liability problems for the town. Specifically, Town Planner Steve Kleppin and members of the Planning & Zoning Commission say, two-way circulation could confuse drivers and lead to motorists traveling in opposite directions suddenly and unexpectedly looking each other somewhere on the property at 18-26 Locust Ave., not to mention motor vehicle backup, since there’s no turnaround space, and cars backing up into pedestrians’ paths. Designating spaces directly behind the proposed building for Post Office workers and those expected to work in second-floor office space “would leave spaces on the west side of the building for patrons of the Post Office,” Kleppin said at a special meeting of the commission, held in the Douglass Room at Lapham Community Center. “And if that was the case, then they [Post Office officials] wouldn’t need two-way on the west side, because those spaces north and south abutting the building would be occupied by stationary employees, as opposed to others coming in and out,” Kleppin said. The owner of 18 Locust Ave.

Hopeful Post Office Developer Acquires More Land for Parking

Weeks after putting in for permits that would allow them to create a new building on Locust Avenue that would house New Canaan’s new Post Office, the property’s owners said Tuesday night that they’ve acquired an abutting parcel of land to be used for additional parking. The acquisition of a portion of the .43-acre lot at 56 Forest St.—a 3,000-square-foot sliver that is, in fact, zoned for commercial use—will allow the hopeful Post Office developers to create an additional eight or nine parking spaces behind 18-26 Locust Ave. and “make the site work much better,” attorney Michael Sweeney of Stamford-based Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP told the Planning & Zoning Commission at its regular meeting. “The good news, and kind of rare news, is that we have had excellent pre-application discussions with the Parking Commission,” Sweeney told P&Z at the meeting, held in the Sturgess Room at the New Canaan Nature Center. “They have given us suggestions along the way, and the latest feedback we have had with them is with the additional parking, they are very pleased with way layout seems to be coming to the fore.”

Plans call for a two-story brick, cupola-topped, Federal-style structure with a total of 8,220 square feet and office space on the second floor.