Town Body Seeks Meeting With Landscaper Who Violated Environmental Regulations

Members of the volunteer group responsible for enforcing regulations that govern some of New Canaan’s most sensitive environmental habitats are seeking a meeting with an area landscaper who cleared a large wetlands area on Old Stamford Road. If Mount Kisco, N.Y.-based landscaper Mike Nolan “had disappeared from the face of New Canaan, that would be one thing,” Inland Wetlands Commission Secretary Angela James said during the group’s most recent regular meeting. “But my fear is that he is still operating in New Canaan and could quite easily do something similar on another property,” she said at the Dec. 21 meeting, held in the Town Meeting Room. Specifically, Nolan appears to have violated New Canaan’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Regulations at 279 Old Stamford Road —as well as a conservation easement for the property, which noted “no disturbance, no maintenance, no planting” there—in clearing out vegetation from a large area.

‘We Are At An Impasse’: Town, Resident At Odds Over References To Wetlands Violations In Land Record

Officials are at odds with an Old Stamford Road man who’s asking that references to violations of New Canaan’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Regulations be removed from a proposed new land record with his name on it. No one disagrees that the clearing of a large wetlands area at 279 Old Stamford Road amounts to a violation of those regulations, and an existing conservation easement for the property had specifically noted “no disturbance, no maintenance, no planting,” according to a public record of last month’s Inland Wetlands Commission meeting. Commissioners did grant Cullis a wetlands permit in order to start restoration work of the area—the plan now is to reseed the cleared area as a meadow—but one condition of that approval is that the Inland Wetlands Commission sign off on the new conservation easement that will be recorded with the Town Clerk. Two sections in a draft of that conservation easement read:

“WHEREAS, in violation of the terms of the Original Conservation Easement, Culliss performed certain prohibited acts within the Original Conservation Easement area, including the Conservation Easement area on [a neighbor’s] property.”
“WHEREAS, Grantor has applied to the Inland Wetlands Commission of the Town of New Canaan (successor to the Environmental Commission of the Town of New Canaan) to conduct certain activities within the Conservation Easement area, including restoration and mitigation to remedy the violations.”

According to Cullis, the references to violations are “simply not necessary.”

“It [the draft ‘Revised Conservation Easement’] says that there is a permit that needs to be executed upon and that this needs to be changed to allow it,” Cullis told commissioners at their regular monthly meeting, held at Town Hall. He added that, based on successively updated versions of the draft document going back-and-forth between him and the town, he had thought his elimination of the references to violations had gone through.