Members of the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church vestry are not supportive of a widely discussed housing complex planned for a neighboring parcel on Oenoke Ridge, officials say. The vestry voted not to support Waveny LifeCare Network’s proposal for “The Oenoke” during a Sept. 22 meeting, according to an email sent to members Tuesday and obtained by NewCanaanite.com. Its decision “was not reached lightly,” said the email, signed by the Rev. Peter Walsh, rector, Senior Warden Stan Twardy and Junior Warden Mark Thorsheim.
Saying it would help bring visibility, the owner of an Italian-style café on Elm Street is seeking permission from town officials to place a “pole sign” out front of the eatery. According to Dolce owner Andrea Lombardi, patrons have had difficulty finding the café at 98 Elm St. “due to its setback from the rest of the buildings on my side of the street.”
“Unfortunately, this has been further impacted by the large planter that was recently placed on the street (in a no parking zone) in front of my business,” Lombardi said in an Aug. 23 letter to the Planning & Zoning Commission. “This sign would be upon my landlord’s property and as shown by the enclosed picture, would help ‘direct’ potential patrons to my store and inform them of what I am serving.”
The Italy native opened Dolce two months ago in the former New Canaan Olive Oil space.
Though supportive of Waveny LifeCare Network and of expanding local housing options for seniors, a representative from one prominent Oenoke Ridge neighbor of a proposed housing complex said the organization is not yet ready to support the project. Though Waveny asked St. Mark’s Episcopal Church for a letter of support to include in its Aug. 28 application to the Planning & Zoning Commission, the church has “some significant concerns about the CCRC project and numerous unanswered questions,” Director of Operations Jill Sautkulis said in a letter to the town planner.
The letter, sent Aug. 22, is included in the public file for The Oenoke, a proposed 70-unit senior housing complex that would face Oenoke Ridge from part of a combined 3.5-acre parcel south of the May Fair field.
The Planning & Zoning Commission last week approved a measure whereby New Canaan property owners seeking to rent out their homes or rooms within them on a short-term basis, such as through the popular online service Airbnb, would need to pay an annual fee to the town. The $150 ‘Short Term Rental Permit Fee’ still requires approval by the Board of Selectmen, according to Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni. Though not a revenue-generator, the fee would cover administrative costs such as application processing and filing, Brooks Avni told members of P&Z at their regular meeting, held Aug. 27 at Town Hall. Commissioner Bill Redman said, “It’s not a money maker but it puts them on notice they need to have the proper paperwork.
Saying he would have voiced the very same concerns regarding a recent application to the Planning & Zoning Commission even if he didn’t live near the site in question, a member of the appointed group on Tuesday night nevertheless recused himself from further discussion or voting on the matter. P&Z Commissioner Dick Ward cited an editorial published this week “basically asking me to recuse myself with respect to the Glass House application,” and said he was “willing to do so,” though he also noted that his Winfield Lane home does not fall within the formal 100-foot notification area as required under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations.
“I did receive a letter from the Glass House several months ago simply mentioning that they were holding a meeting for some neighbors, and I think it said that I was invited to attend, which I did not,” Ward said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “I don’t want the mere fact that you may live in the mere area of the applicant to somehow become a precedent that, whether you are a neighbor or not, just because you may live in the area, you have to recuse yourself,” Ward added by way of making his own recusal. “I think it’s a choice that should be made by the individual commissioner. Clearly, if you are a member of some club and there is an application from the club or something like that, you have an obvious conflict of interest.