Police Investigate Report of Trespassing at 1913 Library Building

Police are investigating a report lodged Monday regarding an apparent trespass of New Canaan Library’s original 1913 building. Evidence of the unlawful entry into the legacy library building—closed to the public as it undergoes abatement prior to its widely anticipated move within the property—appeared last week on a local group’s social media page, officials say. Two photos of the interior of the 1913 building—one showing the area of a former art gallery, the other of a media room, both on the main floor—were posted Thursday afternoon on the “Friends of Our 1913 Library” Facebook page. The group for months has been calling on followers to write letters opposing a Planning & Zoning Commission-approved plan to move what remains of the original library building to the western property line. New Canaan Police confirmed that the matter is under active investigation and that authorities have no suspects at this time.

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.

Preservationists Sue P&Z Over Library Approval

Local preservationists on Tuesday sued the town Planning & Zoning Commission over last month’s approval of New Canaan Library’s widely anticipated rebuilding project. The library also is listed as a defendant in an administrative appeal filed on behalf of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance and K.K.F LLC, a company that owns the Mobil Station property downtown and whose principals own and operate that business. P&Z’s approval of the library’s applications for a Special Permit and site plan, as well as a new overlay zone in the New Canaan Zoning Regulations and attendant map change, was “illegal, unlawful, arbitrary, capricious and/or an abuse of the power and authority vested in the Commission” under state law, according to the complaint, filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by attorneys Patricia Sullivan and Philip Pires of Bridgeport-based Cohen and Wolf, P.C.

As opponents of the project had argued before P&Z through months of hearings that started after the library’s application came into the town in February, the Commission’s approval runs against parts of a document that guides planning in New Canaan—the continuously updated Plan of Conservation and Development—and Village District Guidelines, according to the complaint. 

P&Z approval also “constitutes spot zoning” and the volunteer body’s decision “was not supported by substantial evidence in the record,” the complaint said. A marshal delivered the lawsuit to the Town Clerk’s office on Aug. 3.

Letter: Waveny Now Listed on National Register of Historic Places

Dear Editor:

The New Canaan Preservation Alliance is pleased to announce that Waveny was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 30th 2019. NCPA is most pleased to have successfully promoted, facilitated and funded this nomination as prepared by Public Archeology Laboratory of Rhode Island. This project was made possible by a reimbursable grant from the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. 

In October of 2013, the NCPA held a celebratory Waveny 100th Celebration and fundraiser after which it was decided by the Board of Directors to pursue funding the nomination of Waveny to the National Register. Although not required to do so, the NCPA presented a request to the Town of New Canaan to support proceeding with this nomination. Throughout this process the NCPA presented a thorough and open proposal to all relevant government agencies which included facilitating attendance of representatives from SHPO to answer all questions relating to this nomination.