Owners of ‘The Vue’ Apartment-and-Condo Complex Seek Permission To Nix Barrier Fence

The owners of a major residential project on the edge of downtown New Canaan are seeking permission to forgo building a fence separating an adjacent development from a planned pedestrian accessway through the property—a proposal those neighbors are pushing back on, officials say. According to an attorney representing the owners of The Vue, an apartment-and-condo complex formerly known as Merritt Village, the fence that was to run off of Mead Street, blocking off the planned walkway from Mead Commons is unsafe and unnecessary. Owner M2 Partners “recently learned that the installation of the fence will result in significantly impairing emergency access to the property,” attorney Steve Finn of Stamford-based Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission in a statement attached to an application to amend conditions of his client’s Special Permit. Citing an April 15 email from Fire Marshal Fred Baker, Finn said “that the emergency accessway from Mead Street is already very restrictive and that construction of the fence ‘would reduce the width further yet, making the driveway all but useless for emergency access.’ ”

Additionally, “the installation of the fence is unnecessary because current landscaping and topography provides more than adequate screening and will serve as a significant deterrent to walkers seeking to gain access to the pedestrian accessway from Mead Commons,” Finn said. “[A] dense landscape buffer” already screens the accessway from Mead Commons “and the topography along the property line is relatively steep,” Finn said.

Owner of Vacant Canoe Hill Road Lot Seeks P&Z Permission To Build New Home, Accessory Structures

The owner of a vacant 3.16-acre rear lot on Canoe Hill Road is seeking permission to build a new home, pool house, greenhouse and detached garage. 

Plans for 221 Canoe Hill Road call for locating the garage 40 feet from the lot’s access way, according to an application filed on behalf of the property’s owner by attorney David Rucci of New Canaan-based Lampert, Toohey & Rucci LLC. 

The proposed buildings “are smaller in footprint” than what had stood on the oversized lot before “and creates more open space in the neighborhood,” Rucci said in the application. 

“The proposed development is in keeping with the residential character of the neighborhood,” Rucci said. “The garage is sited to provide easy access to the drive. This particular proposal is consistent with the Plan of Conservation and Development as it supports open space [and] uses existing systems with minimal disturbance.”

The Planning & Zoning Commission is scheduled to take up the application at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

P&Z approval is needed for the Special Permit and site plan, as well as for the planned excavation and soil disturbance (page 137 here) and for locating an accessory building in a front yard and within 150 feet of the street (page 54). 

Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni noted in a memo to the Commission that although the proposed garage is more than 150 feet from Canoe Hill Road, it is just 40 feet from the access way (the property shares the access way with 219 and 223 Canoe Hill Road). P&Z may consider conditioning an approval for the application, including that soil and erosion controls be bolstered and that prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy, the applicant submit a licensed engineer’s as-built plan. 

The lot had been purchased in June 2018 for $1,525,000, tax records show. Here’s where it is:

‘The Adirondack Store’ To Open on Elm Street

A Lake Placid, N.Y.-based retailer whose offerings include a range of gifts, glassware, pillows and home decor items is planning to occupy a prominent commercial space on Elm Street that’s been vacant since April 2018. The Adirondack Store & Gallery has filed plans for its exterior renovation at 39 Em St. with Planning & Zoning. 

“The Adirondack Store was in New Canaan from 1995 to 2009 and closed that location due to differences with the landlord,” according to a narrative submitted with the plans. “They are looking forward to reopening in New Canaan.”

The two-level store had been occupied for about 40 years by Family Britches, which moved to Main Street. Before that a restaurant, notably the iconic Pierre’s or “Izzy’s Place,” as it commonly was known, operated there from 1944 to 1976.

YMCA Seeks To Expand Parking Lot by 20 Spaces

Saying it’s needed for pedestrian safety and to accommodate use during peak hours, the YMCA is seeking to expand a parking lot along the side of its South Avenue building by 20 spaces. Fewer than 5% of the Y’s current 247 space are available when the nonprofit organization is busiest, according to an application filed with the Planning & Zoning Commission. 

“Cars circling the parking lot looking for a parking space create an unsafe condition for pedestrians, many of them children, and may invite patrons to park on South Avenue or Putnam Road,” according to a letter that accompanied site plan and Special Permit applications filed on the Y’s behalf by attorney Ted O’Hanlan of Stamford-based Robinson+Cole. 

In approving the Y’s extensive renovation five years ago, P&Z noted that if more parking is needed, the organization should submit a site plan along those lines, O’Hanlan noted. 

“That time has arrived and is motivated by genuine concern for safety and convenience,” he said. “No increase in either programs or membership has motivated these applications.”

The application includes a traffic study that “clearly demonstrates that more on-site parking will better serve the YMCA’s existing parking demand.”

“The traffic analysis states that, because the YMCA is not adding any new programs, there will be no increase in trip generation to and from the property, and, therefore, no traffic impact on South Avenue and the surrounding street network,” O’Hanlan said. Plans call for 20 striped parking spaces on what the applicant is calling the “south side of the building,” running roughly parallel to Putnam Road. The spaces are to be used by Y staff and “as overflow parking for patrons.” Two new landscape islands with curbing are to be installed, along with a 6-foot-high wooden fence, forsythia hedge and access gate for emergency vehicles.