Preservationists Seek To Establish ‘Church Hill Historic District’ in New Canaan

Local preservationists are seeking to create an expanded historic district in New Canaan. The town’s current Historic District, created in 1963, includes 21 structures around God’s Acre. 

Under a proposal made public Tuesday by members of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, the “Church Hill Historic District” would also encompass Vine Cottage and qualifying homes on Seminary Street and St. John Place, as well as additional structures on Main Street, according to a presentation by Neele Stichnoth and Lea Cromwell, president and vice president, respectively, of the NCPA board. The district would be “much more expanded and it will offer tremendous protection to local residents, now that we know that a third of an acre can wind up with a 20-unit development on it,” Stichnoth told members of the Board of Selectmen during their regular meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. She referred to an 8-30g affordable housing proposal, now before the Planning & Zoning Commission, at the former Red Cross building at 51 Main St.

NCPA Sues P&Z Over Approval of Library Preservation Plan

Six months after suing the town Planning & Zoning Commission for approving New Canaan Library’s widely anticipated rebuilding project, local preservationists last week filed another appeal in state Superior Court. The New Canaan Preservation Alliance said in its new complaint that P&Z’s approval last month of the library’s plan to preserve much of what remains of an original 1913 building by moving it to the organization’s western property line was “illegal, unlawful, capricious and/or an abuse of the power and authority vested in the Commission” by state law. The approval is contrary to a document that guides development in New Canaan, the lawsuit said, and violates the Zoning Regulations and state statute, according to the complaint, filed by by attorneys Patricia Sullivan and Philip Pires of Bridgeport-based Cohen and Wolf, P.C.

P&Z approval “relocated part of the 1913 library, which is not ‘in situ’ preservation,” the complaint said. “The relocation of the 1913 library is not consistent with any understanding or definition of ‘historic preservation’ pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act, the New Canaan Plan of Conservation and Development, the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, or the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation,” it said. “The Commission did not make required findings of fact or identify sufficient or adequate reasons for its actions” under the zoning regulations or state law, it said.