Planning & Zoning Commission

Recent Articles

Developer Seeks To Create New Mixed-Use Building, Townhouses at Forest and Locust

A Westport real estate firm is seeking to create a new, mixed-use building and adjoining row of townhouses at the northwest corner of Forest Street and Locust Avenue—site of the long-vacant former Bank of America building. In an application filed on behalf of Silver Heights Development, officials said they want to put a mixed-use building with 1,500 square feet of ground floor retail uses and two residential units above facing Locust Avenue, and five townhouses fronting Forest Street. Schematics included in the Aug. 24 application show that the mixed-use building would run to the corner of Forest and Locust. The application for the .4-acre lot at 42 Forest St.—from attorney Jacqueline Kaufman, a partner at Stamford-based Carmody, Torrance, Sandak & Hennessey LLP—includes two proposed changes to the New Canaan Zoning Regulations in order to make the project possible as it now is envisioned. Continue Reading →

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‘It’s Going To Be Hard’: New Canaan Faces Long Odds on Achieving Third Affordable Housing Moratorium, Officials Say

Though New Canaan this summer qualified for four years of relief from a state law that allows developers to skirt local planning decisions by designating a certain percentage of units in new projects as “affordable”—and could be positioned to achieve a second four-year “moratorium” under that law—it’s unclear now whether or how the town will be able to continue doing so. The major difficulty, according to the chairman of the New Canaan Housing Authority, is the high cost and scarcity of land in town that could take a fair-sized (say, 20-unit) affordable development. “Land of any sort of sizeable acreage that is on sewer and water, is certainly subject to an [affordable housing] ‘cramdown’ from a developer, and it’s also therefore valuable to them,” Scott Hobbs told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission during their regular meeting, held Aug. 29 at Town Hall. “And knowing that someday we will run out of moratorium time, so the odds that we could buy a piece of property like that, is going to be hard. Continue Reading →

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‘We Are Going To Miss Him’: Town Planner Steve Palmer To Step Down Next Month

Steve Palmer, town planner of New Canaan since late last year, is stepping down from his position with the municipality to join his family’s business, officials said Friday. Town employees received word from New Canaan Human Resources Director Cheryl Pickering-Jones in a midmorning email. “We are going to miss Steve and the work he has done in just a  short time for Planning and Zoning,” she said in the email. In a relatively short period of time, Palmer has tackled multiple dense and divisive P&Z applications and appeals before the town, including the Merritt Village, sober house, Grace Farms and Roger Sherman Inn. Asked about the development, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said that Palmer has done “a magnificent job while here.”

“We are going to miss him,” Mallozzi said. Continue Reading →

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‘It Seems a Little Excessive’: P&Z Voices Concern over Request for Second Sign Behind Bank-Owned Building

Saying a proposed second sign out back of a corporate building on Elm Street was too large, the Planning & Zoning Commission at its most recent hearing continued an application filed on behalf a community bank. Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations (see the final paragraph on page 127 here), P&Z may grant a business a second sign larger than one square foot for the rear entrance of a first-floor use. Yet what Bankwell had proposed for the non-walk-in, corporate headquarters at 220 Elm St.—a building that houses other commercial tenants—appears to be too big at 12-by-134 feet, according to P&Z Secretary Jean Grzelecki. “It seems a little excessive,” Grzelecki said at the group’s June 26 special meeting, held in Town Hall. “I could see this being totally appropriate if in fact Bankwell were moving into this building, with one sign on the front and one sign on the back, to identify for its own customers coming. Continue Reading →

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‘Negative Ramifications for the Community of New Canaan’: Consultant on Grace Farms’ Proposed Changes to Zoning Regulations

Proposed changes to the regulations that govern land use in New Canaan, now before the town, appear harmless but in fact have dramatic and harmful implications, according to a consultant hired by a set of neighbors opposed to them. Grace Farms’ proposed text amendments to the New Canaan Zoning Regulations appear “innocuous at first blush,” according to Don Poland, senior vice president and managing director of urban planning at East Hartford-based Goman+York. Yet if the Planning & Zoning Commission were to approve the organization’s application, it would “exacerbate the issues of appropriate scale, intensity of use and threats of encroachment across all zones—residential and commercial—in New Canaan,” Poland said in a report filed with P&Z. Specifically, Grace Farms—a “religious institution,” under the regulations—is for practical reasons seeking permission to have more than one such principal use designation. Yet “if the proposed regulation amendment is approved, not only can Grace Farms Foundation be allowed to continue its request for multiple principal uses, but also could subsequently apply for additional principal uses, such as Elderly Housing, Adult Housing, Congregate Care, Bed and Breakfast, Private School, Day Care and Private Recreation,” according to Poland’s May 15 report. Continue Reading →

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