P&Z To Weigh Change to Allowable Heights of Retaining Walls

In the past three years, the town has issued 25 permits for retaining walls higher than four feet, including 10 over six feet, though one section of the New Canaan Zoning Regulations outright forbids retaining walls taller than four feet in Residential and Special Zones, officials say. At the same time, another section of the regulations states that retaining walls higher than four feet simply require a zoning permit, Town Planner Sarah Carey noted in a memo ahead of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s regular meeting at 6 p.m Tuesday. 

“It is recommended that we clean up this regulation to take a clear position on the permitted height of retaining walls in Residential and Special Zones,” Carey wrote in the memo, which forms part of the public packet for the meeting. 

“Staff recommends that there be no height limit on retaining walls but rather a special permit be required in certain instances,” she said. The discrepancy—in Section 6.5.B of the regulations (page 153 here)—recently was brought to the attention of town staff, Carey said. In the past three years, the town has permitted retaining walls higher than four feet in Residential Zones, she said, “sometimes administratively, sometimes requiring a special permit.”

“The Commission in 2022 granted at least 2 Special Permits that had proposed retaining walls over 4ft in height in Residential Zones,” Carey said, citing properties on Brushy Ridge Road and Oenoke Ridge. To address the discrepancy, P&Z will consider text amendments to Section 6.5.B.

Town Seeks Public Input on POCD via Online Survey

Town officials are asking for the public’s input in a community-wide survey as they prepare to update the major guiding document for land use decisions in New Canaan. By state law, the Plan of Conservation and Development must be updated every 10 years. In New Canaan, the POCD underwent its most recent major update in 2014. The document informs P&Z “of how we should alter or stay the course” in the appointed body’s decision-making, said Town Planner Sarah Carey. 

She continued: “This is your chance as a member of the public to give us your opinion of: What are we doing well as a town? What do we need to improve on?

Town To Advise on YMCA Landscape Screening After Neighbor Complains

Town officials are reviewing the landscape screening between the New Canaan YMCA and a neighbor, after the latter filed a complaint that the South Avenue organization is out of compliance with its Special Permit requirements. Putnam Road resident Roger Williams said in an Aug. 23 letter to the Planning & Zoning Commission that in nearly 30 years he’s seen the Y grow its program and facility significantly. “What was a successful local YMCA when we moved in has become a very large regional YMCA, especially with the closures of the Stamford YMCA and Norwalk YMCA facilities,” Williams said in the letter. “Each time the Y has requested its expansions, they promised to install landscaping and screening and to maintain both to lessen its impact on the neighbors.