P&Z Sued Over Rilling Ridge Tennis Court Denial

A New Canaan woman on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Planning & Zoning Commission, saying the appointed body erred in denying her application to build a tennis court on her property. According to the complaint filed in state Superior Court on behalf of Amy Tucci of 57 Rilling Ridge, P&Z’s denial during a July 26 special meeting was “illegal, unlawful, arbitrary and capricious.”

“The Defendant Commission ignored and acted in a manner that is inconsistent with and violates the procedural and substantive requirements and provisions of the Zoning Regulations, the Connecticut General Statutes and the common law of the State of Connecticut,” attorney Joel Green of Bridgeport-based Law Offices of Green and Gross, P.C. wrote in the complaint. 

P&Z also “failed to make proper findings of fact and failed to identify sufficient or adequate reasons for its actions,” the complaint said. The application and proposed tennis court “fully comply with the requirements, standards and conditions necessary for the approval of the application pursuant to the Zoning Regulations,” it said. The lawsuit seeks to overturn P&Z’s decision and to award legal costs and “such other and further relief as the Court may determine.”

The Commission’s decision to deny the application was itself a divided vote. 

Tucci—who originally had filed an application to operate a boutique commercial gym at home (later withdrawn)—applied to P&Z for a Special Permit that would allow a tennis court to be located within a 150 feet of the street (see page 55 here), and for a second permit allowing for soil disturbance of more than 10,000 square feet of area in order to (page 149). While some commissioners argued that P&Z has approved applications for similar Special Permits in the past and noted that the court is designed to be just 52-by-115 feet (versus a standard size of 60-by-120), others said it’s inappropriate to approve a tennis court in the front yard and found that the application didn’t meet all Special Permit criteria.

P&Z Approves Optometrist Use at Former Pet Valu Space Downtown

The Planning & Zoning Commission at its most recent meeting approved a change of use for a vacant commercial space on Forest Street, formerly occupied by pet store chain Pet Valu. The 1,875-square-foot property at 21 Forest St. sits next to Green and Tonic, and has remained empty since Pet Valu shut down 358 of its stores across the nation, facing challenges brought on by the pandemic. There has been little news about the building’s use until July, when Paul Tully, a representative of the building’s owner, brought a change of use request to P&Z for the building’s designation to be changed from retail to service establishment. On an application, Tully states that he has a tenant who has signed a lease to open an optometrist practice at the location, selling “optical retail products, i.e. glasses, sunglasses, and related material with limited optometric services.”  

Renovations for the building are still underway, but the fire marshal has already approved several features such as the building’s sprinkler system, Tully said during P&Z’s July 26 meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. 

It will be ADA-compliant, and include parking spaces in the rear, he said.

Town Resident Seeks P&Z Approval for Boutique Commercial Gym at Home

A homeowner in eastern New Canaan is seeking permission to operate a boutique gym as a business on the lower level of the house. Classes at “The Remix” at 57 Rilling Ridge—a 6,200-square-foot home on two acres, tax records show—are capped at four clients per session, according to an application filed with the Planning & Zoning Commission on behalf of the property owner by attorney David Rucci of New Canaan-based Lampert, Toohey & Rucci LLC. Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, a Special Permit is required from P&Z in order to operate a “Major Home” business (see page 51 here). The applicant is also seeking site plan approval. P&Z is expected to take up the application at its May 23 meeting.

Zumbach’s Plans Second Coffee Shop on Burtis Avenue

New Canaan’s best-established and locally owned coffee shop is planning to open a second location downtown. 

Zumbach’s Gourmet Coffee, a hub of activity at the corner of Pine and Grove Streets, is planning to open a shop on Burtis Avenue, according to an application submitted to Planning & Zoning. “Doug has leased a space at the above referenced address where he plans to open a second coffee shop location offering an expanded selection of handmade coffees including cold-brew as well as nitro-brew coffees,” Paul Tully of Imian Partners LLC, representing the property owner, said in an April 14 letter to Town Assistant Planner/Zoning Inspector Sarah Carey. Tully referred to New Canaan’s Doug Zumbach, owner of the eponymous coffee shop that also founded the popular car show “Caffeine & Carburetors.”

The commercial building at 22 Burtis Ave. is located in the Business A
Zone. Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, site plan approval is required from the Planning & Zoning Commission.