Planning and Zoning Commission

Recent Articles

Hot Dogs and Bratwurst Restaurant ‘White Buffalo’ Proposed for Downtown New Canaan

A new restaurant selling hot dogs and bratwurst is being proposed for a vacant commercial space located off of Elm Street in downtown New Canaan. ‘White Buffalo’ would offer a wide variety of hot dogs—including a “singature” blend of pork, veal and beef— as well cheese-and-sauerkraut, hot and “big bacon cheese” bratwurst topped with relish, spicy mustard, chili, bacon bits and more, according to a draft menu submitted to the Planning & Zoning Commission along with a site plan application for 72 Park St. The commercial building, occupied until recently by New Canaan Music (now at 90 Man St.) is located down “the alley” by the former Chef Luis space. Site plan approval is needed by P&Z for a change of use to food service. Renderings for the long narrow space show a cozy bar with 13 stools and four flatscreen TVs as well as two-top tables lining one wall. 

The eatery would be a truly local affair: The owners of White Buffalo LLC are New Canaan residents, according to records on file with the Connecticut Secretary of the State. Continue Reading →

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P&Z Votes 9-0 in Favor of Canaan Parish Redevelopment; Look of Exterior To Be Finalized

Saying a new exterior design represented a major improvement if not an acceptable final version, the Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday night unanimously approved the redevelopment of Canaan Parish, a 60-unit housing complex at Lakeview Avenue and Route 123. Addressing concerns voiced by P&Z at an initial public hearing last month, officials representing the applicant— the 5.2-acre property is owned by the town and an organization called ‘New Canaan Neighborhoods’ owns the buildings—reduced the height of two new buildings proposed for the site by six to seven feet, added architectural features for a more local residential feel, toned down the color scheme and increased screening from the street with more robust landscaping. In the end, the redevelopment is expected to achieve one major goal of the town as well as the New Canaan Housing Authority, which is partnering with New Canaan Neighborhoods on the project—namely, to ensure that New Canaan doesn’t open itself up to a loophole in a state law that allows developers to ignore local planning decisions in places that do not meet strict affordable housing requirements. Plans call for rebuilding the 60-unit Section 8 housing complex in a single five-story structure and construction of a new, 40-unit structure of the same height that would count toward the state’s affordable housing requirement. New Canaan is never expected to reach a guideline whereby 10 percent of its housing stock qualifies as “affordable” under the state’s rigid definition, though the town by creating additional qualifying units at Mill Pond has earned four years of relief from the developer loophole. Continue Reading →

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P&Z: Board of Ed Lacks Site Plan Approval for ‘Alternative High School’ Downtown

The Board of Education plans to install New Canaan’s first-ever “alternative high school” on the second floor of the downtown building its administration currently occupies, though town officials on Tuesday night raised concerns that required zoning approvals for such a program have not yet been obtained. Specifically, the Board of Ed needs approval for a site plan in order to move forward with the program on the second floor of 39 Locust Ave., members of the Planning & Zoning Commission said during their regular meeting. 

Though school starts Thursday, the Board of Ed “missed a deadline” to get on the agenda for this week’s meeting, according to P&Z Chairman John Goodwin. “I think when they make the site plan application in September we will learn more,” Goodwin said at the meeting, held at Town Hall. “What is unfortunate is that they are going ahead and doing this without the site plan approval. So my question to them next month is, why did they miss the deadline?”

No Board of Ed members or district administrators attended the meeting. Continue Reading →

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P&Z: Grace Farms ‘Auction Items’ Events May Violate Conditions of Approval

Town officials on Tuesday are expected to decide whether Grace Farms may host a dozen events planned as auction items for the organization’s annual fundraiser in October. In approving Grace Farms for its amended Special Permit last year, the Planning & Zoning Commission specified that the Lukes Wood Road organization may not host so-called “Sustainability Events,” where space is used by commercial entities to generate revenue. Yet raising funds by auctioning off specific events at Grace Farms—planned events include cooking, baking, cocktail, March Madness and college football parties—may amount to the same thing, meaning they would be prohibited under the approved permit, P&Z members said at their most recent meeting. “This sounds like the equivalent of renting the property out for a kids’ dinner, kids’ party and everything else, except that it’s through a charity,” Commissioner John Kriz said at P&Z’s July 31 meeting, held at Town Hall. “Somehow that is stressing more of a distinction than a difference. Continue Reading →

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Neighbor Voices ‘Deep Concern’ Over Canaan Parish Redevelopment; P&Z Hearing Opens Tuesday

Though some of those behind a proposal to redevelop an apartment complex on Lakeview Avenue say its impact on nearby properties will be minimal, one neighbor of Canaan Parish is voicing what he called “deep concern” about the project. In a letter filed last week with Planning & Zoning, a Fitch Lane man who lives across Route 123 from Canaan Parish said that although officials with the New Canaan Housing Authority claim “that this area does not affect any residents, that is inaccurate.”

“Several homes from the Hoyt Farm neighborhood will look straight at this complex when the leaves are off the trees in the fall and winter,” Gregory Pepe said in his July 26 letter, part of the public file on an application for the redevelopment that will come before P&Z at its regular meeting Tuesday. “Our family home will have a direct eye level view of an apartment complex which will impact housing values. Canaan Parish existed long before us and I have no issue with that fact. However, replacing it with something far, far bigger and out of character with the town is not acceptable.”

Pepe also said that the proposed redevelopment appears to be five stories, not four, and urges P&Z not to “change or compromise current rules and regulations when it comes to height or density of housing as that becomes a slippery slope for future development, whether affordable housing or not.”

Those behind the proposal at Canaan Parish are seeking to create a new zone within the New Canaan Zoning Regulations in order to make the project possible. Named for the federally subsidized rental complex that’s stood at Lakeview and 123 for four decades, the “Canaan Parish Housing Zone” would allow the two organizations collaborating on the project to create 100 new units where 60 now stand. 

Specifically, Canaan Parish would be rebuilt with two L-shaped four-story buildings, according to an application filed this month with P&Z: one that replaces the 60 apartments now spread through 10 buildings and a second structure with 40 units built specifically to help New Canaan achieve relief in the future from a punitive state law. Continue Reading →

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