Town officials on Tuesday night called for those proposing a new residential retirement building on Oenoke Ridge Road to include details in making their formal application later this summer in areas such as building materials, colors, elevations, lighting, noise-generators, sustainability and renderings such as a 3-D computerized model that will provide a sense of scale. Members of the Planning & Zoning Commission during their regular meeting also asked representatives for Waveny LifeCare Network to provide details on landscaping materials and retaining walls. Commissioner John Kriz said he was concerned that “The Oenoke”—a 70-unit building of one- and two-bedroom apartments that residents would buy into as part of New Canaan’s “Continuing Care Retirement Community”—would loom over its neighbors and “cast a shadow,” and asked that Waveny “be sensitive” to the historic nature of the abutting New Canaan Historical Society property as well as the “well-attended” St. Mark’s Church on the northern side. Kriz asked that the architects use fieldstone “as opposed to something else,” for example, and avoid using aluminum siding.
A Ponus Ridge historic site and architectural tourist attraction is seeking modest changes to its operating permit, according to papers filed with the town. The Philip Johnson Glass House is requesting permission to increase its hours of operation and to change when town approval is required for certain events, according to an application to modify an existing Special Permit, filed June 26 with Planning & Zoning. The current Special Permit authorizes the use of National Trust for Historic Preservation site as a “limited public access museum,” according to the application. The 49-acre site, which includes 14 buildings designed by the famed architect, opened to the public in 2007.
An application, filed by attorney Ted O’Hanlan of Robinson + Cole, seeks to extend the public tour season by two weeks at both the beginning and end—meaning it would begin April 16 and end Dec. 15.
The owner of the Pine Street building that houses Walgreens is seeking permission to open access to an unused 52-space underground parking garage, according to an application filed with Planning & Zoning. Constructed at the time the building at 36 Pine St. went up 12 years ago, the vast garage was created in anticipation that the Planning & Zoning Commission would update local regulations so that underground parking was allowed in the Business A zone, according to an application filed on behalf of the property owner, New York-based Eton Centers Inc.
An amendment to the New Canaan Zoning Regulations came into effect about three years after the building’s construction, according to the application filed by attorney Steve Finn of Stamford’s Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky LLP. “Recently after urging by the first selectman and others, Eton Centers Co LLC has decided to ‘open up’ the underground space and utilize it for a parking garage with ingress and egress to the garage to be constructed along the easterly side of the building,” Finn said in a narrative that accompanied applications for Special Permit and site plan approval.
A site plan shows a 28-foot-wide proposed garage opening at the far end of the east side of the building (see rendering above). The regularly updated document that helps guide land use planning in New Canaan, the Plan of Conservation and Development or ‘POCD,’ “strongly endorses addressing a parking deficient for both downtown patrons and commuters,” the application said.
The owners of two contiguous properties on Richmond Hill Road are seeking permission from the town to knock down the single-family homes already there, combine the parcels and then build four new dwellings. Filed with the Planning & Zoning Commission on behalf of owners Dennis Quinn and Joan Cheever, the plan for numbers 19 and 25 Richmond Hill Road requires not only site plan and Special Permit approval, but also changes to the underlying New Canaan Zoning Regulations.
The proposal is “designed to provide high quality multi-family housing in single occupancy units to contribute to the unique and diverse housing opportunities in the Apartment Zone and adjacent to the downtown,” according to the application filed by attorney Jacqueline Kaufman of Stamford-based Carmody, Torrance, Sandak & Hennessey. “The Applicant has designed the proposed dwellings to be consistent with the surrounding Richmond Hill neighborhood, which consists of a mix of aging and new single-family and multifamily dwellings.”
Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, site plan approval is needed for development of a multifamily use in a residential zone (see page 179 here), and a Special Permit is required to construct multifamily dwellings in the Apartment Zone (page 100). According to the application, the project meets required Special Permit criteria (page 186).
The regulations specify that for properties in the Apartment Zone, the minimum side and rear yard setbacks for a principal bundling are 25 feet and properties in the Apartment Zone have a minimum landscaped area of 50%. Under proposed changes to the regulations, the setback distance would be preserved for a single structure, while it may be reduced to 20 feet “for properties with multiple structures, with Special Permit approval,” while the landscaping figure would be reduced to 30% for such structures.
The proposed text changes to the Zoning Regulations also add the following sentence to the definition of ‘multifamily dwelling’: “The Multi-Family Dwelling use may be provided as attached or detached units and may share exterior amenities on the subject property as provided by the permitting Regulation.”
According to the application, each of the four detached dwelling units planned for the would-be merged lot will be designed for single-family occupancy.
“New landscaping, driveways, sidewalks, lighting and drainage improvements are also proposed,” it said.
Town officials are weighing proposed zoning regulations that could require the owners of properties let out for short-term rentals to obtain a zoning permit first. The proposed regulations, now in draft form before the Planning & Zoning Commission, could come to a public hearing next month, officials said. Obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a Freedom of Information Act request, the draft proposal would see P&Z regulate short-term rentals as an accessory use, not a primary use, in residential districts. Specifically, a “minor short-term rental” would be defined as “the temporary rental or part or all of a residential property for fewer than 30 consecutive nights at a time, for no more than three times in a six-month period, for which the guest compensates the owner of the property.”
Such “minor short-term rentals” would occur no more than three times in a six-month period and would be required to meet Housing Code occupancy requirements, to be used for lodging only—as opposed to activities such as parties, fundraisers, photo shoots or corporate retreats—and must not “materially disrupt the residential character of the neighborhood,” according to the draft. Commissioner Krista Neilson, who has taken a lead on helping draft the regulations along with Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni, said that in some ways the language is designed to give more discretion to a zoning enforcement officer who might be faced with difficult situations and the prospect of resigning the requirement zoning permits.
Another part of the draft regulation specifies that the zoning permit, which would expire after one year, could be revoked if the rental “imposed a nuisance on neighbors.”
Brooks Avni noted that it would important to have “some sort of threshold about what the nuisance might be.”
“Just because they are bothered by the fact that a neighbor is renting, that might be their nuisance but if it’s allowed then it’s not really a nuisance,” she said during P&Z’s regular meeting, held April 30 at Town Hall.