Owners of ‘The Vue’ Apartment-and-Condo Complex Seek Permission To Nix Barrier Fence

The owners of a major residential project on the edge of downtown New Canaan are seeking permission to forgo building a fence separating an adjacent development from a planned pedestrian accessway through the property—a proposal those neighbors are pushing back on, officials say. According to an attorney representing the owners of The Vue, an apartment-and-condo complex formerly known as Merritt Village, the fence that was to run off of Mead Street, blocking off the planned walkway from Mead Commons is unsafe and unnecessary. Owner M2 Partners “recently learned that the installation of the fence will result in significantly impairing emergency access to the property,” attorney Steve Finn of Stamford-based Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission in a statement attached to an application to amend conditions of his client’s Special Permit. Citing an April 15 email from Fire Marshal Fred Baker, Finn said “that the emergency accessway from Mead Street is already very restrictive and that construction of the fence ‘would reduce the width further yet, making the driveway all but useless for emergency access.’ ”

Additionally, “the installation of the fence is unnecessary because current landscaping and topography provides more than adequate screening and will serve as a significant deterrent to walkers seeking to gain access to the pedestrian accessway from Mead Commons,” Finn said. “[A] dense landscape buffer” already screens the accessway from Mead Commons “and the topography along the property line is relatively steep,” Finn said.

Walter Stewart’s Seeks Variance for New Rooftop Condenser; Seminary Street Neighbors Object

An attorney representing one of New Canaan’s best-established businesses is seeking permission from the town to maintain a rooftop condenser unit that reaches .75 inches higher than regulations allow. Installed two summers ago, the condenser atop Walter Stewart’s Market also is located about four feet closer to the westerly edge of the roof at 229 Elm St. than allowed in the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, according to an application filed with the town by Steve Finn of Stamford-based Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky LLP. 

In making his case for the variance to the Zoning Board of Appeals, Finn noted that “the Walter Stewart’s Market buildings were build prior to the enactment of the zoning regulations” whose limits in the Business A zone on the maximum height of buildings and location of rooftop appurtenances such as the condenser now require formal permission from the town. “The location and height of the new condenser unit would be in compliance with the zoning regulations up until approximately 1982 when the current restrictions on height first started to appear in the New Canaan Zoning Regulations,” Finn said in a statement of hardship filed on behalf of the market. 

“The application of the height requirement retroactively to buildings constructed in 1978 and 1957 would make it virtually impossible to have environmentally efficient up-to-date code and industry-compliant mechanicals necessary to safety operate the Applicant’s grocery store,” he said. 

Finn continued: “A hardship results from the amendment to the zoning regulations decreasing the maximum building height which was enacted after the [Applicant] bought the property for its grocery business and constructed the buildings on the site. It would not only be a hardship but unfair to require the Applicant to comply with a zoning regulation which was changed after the property was purchased and the buildings were constructed.

Bank Use Proposed for Former ‘Mrs. Greens’ Space

The owners of the former Post Office building at Park and Pine Streets, most recently home to Mrs. Green’s grocery store, have applied to the town to allow for the prominent structure to be used as a bank. The owners of 2 Pine St. have entered into lease negotiations with Bank of America Corporation/Merrill Lynch to take over the space, according to an application filed Oct. 1 with Planning & Zoning. 

“In connection with the change of use to a bank, relatively minor changes to the building as detailed on the plans submitted herewith are planned which will result in a more elegant looking structure,” said a site plan statement filed on behalf of the property owners by attorney Steve Finn, a partner at Stamford-based Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky. The 6,320-square-foot property “is located at the corner of two highly visible gateways to downtown, Pine and Park Streets,” Finn said in the site plan statement.

Attorney for New Canaan Country School Denies Neighbor’s Major Claims

An attorney for New Canaan Country School is denying a neighbor’s claim that the new athletic facility approved for school’s Frogtown Road campus will diminish the value of her home more in its planned location than it would anywhere else on the 70-plus-acre property. Attorney Steve Finn, a partner at Stamford-based Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky LLP, also is denying the neighbor’s claim that locating the two-story facility near the school’s eastern property line was done “solely for NCCS’s convenience” even though there were other potential sites that would’ve had less impact. In answering a lawsuit filed in August on behalf of the neighbor, Katherine Moore, Finn in several places—for example, in addressing the assertion that one member of the Planning & Zoning Commission who had recused himself from considering the application later actively participated in deliberations—said New Canaan Country School “is unable to admit or deny the allegations … and leaves the plaintiff to her proof.”

P&Z in March voted 9-0 in favor of a Special Permit application filed on behalf of the school, and in June approved the site plan (with 17 conditions) by a 7-1 vote. The town is named as primary defendant in the administrative appeal and is represented by Westport-based Berchem Moses PC. 

Finn filed his answer Sept. 27, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch records, and the case last week was transferred to Superior Court in Hartford.