Six Candidates To Undergo First-Round Interviews for New Canaan Town Planner Job This Week

Officials say they received a strong response to the open town planner job in New Canaan, and will commence interviews with six final candidates on Thursday and Friday this week. Active town planners in nearby communities are among those conducting the first-round interviews, according to Cheryl Pickering-Jones, director of human resources for the town of New Canaan. “We are trying to move quickly,” Pickering-Jones told Town Planner Steve Kleppin, whose last day is Thursday as he takes the same job in neighboring Norwalk, will continue to advise New Canaan in a consulting position, she said. Given that New Canaan has received major applications in recent weeks and months—for example, the Merritt Village proposal, (recently modified) Roger Sherman Inn redevelopment plans and effort from Grace Farms to amend its operating permit—Kleppin’s institutional and historical knowledge, and ready familiarity with New Canaan Zoning Regulations, are important assets, officials say.

‘A Big Loss’: Town Planner Steve Kleppin To Leave New Canaan for Norwalk Job

Steve Kleppin recalled that when took the helm as town planner 11 years ago in New Canaan’s Land Use Department, after spending six months as assistant town planner, the agency’s perception in the community was poor. Some on staff at the time had faced criticism from the public and many relationships between the two had gone sour, he said. Yet “through the people that were here and the other people that came on board, we changed that, as a group,” Kleppin recalled Thursday, hours before the town announced that he had taken the role of town planner in neighboring Norwalk. “It’s a well-run area. Even though people might not always like the outcome or the decisions that are made, they’re treated appropriately, treated well and the decisions are thought-out.”

A steady, soft-spoken figure who is highly respected among colleagues, building professionals and property owners in New Canaan—often delivering unwanted news that touches on the largest single investment that residents will ever make—Kleppin will work his last day here on Oct.

Officials Study ‘Canaan Parish’ Apartments for Possible Affordable Housing Redevelopment

Town officials say they’re looking into whether a privately owned, 1979-built apartment complex on Lakeview Avenue could be right for redevelopment with a greater number of affordable units. Located near the corner of Route 123, Canaan Parish includes 60 apartments and its tenants get rental assistance through the Section 8 federal housing program. It is owned by Stamford-based New Canaan Neighborhoods Inc., whose president is town resident Chris Hussey, according to Connecticut Secretary of the State records. According to Scott Hobbs, who serves as chairman of the New Canaan Housing Authority, the site likely “is not as well utilized as modern layout would, so if we could rejuvenate some of it, it would make sense.” “The reality is that it would make more sense to tear it down and rearrange everything and get more units in there,” Hobbs told members of the Board of Finance at their regular meeting Tuesday night, held at Town Hall. “And I believe by doing that, we hopefully would possibly get to the second moratorium.”

He referred to a four-year moratorium from the state’s Affordable Housing Appeals Act, often called by its statute number, 8-30g.

Town Denies Appeal from Neighbor Regarding Use of Guest Cottage on Oenoke Ridge Road

Backed by documents showing that an Oenoke Ridge Road accessory structure received town approval for use as a guesthouse, and citing the many years it has been occupied as such without complaint, officials last month rejected a next-door neighbor’s appeal regarding the building’s use. The Zoning Board of Appeals at its most recent meeting by a 5-0 vote denied an appeal that had been filed this spring on behalf of Peter and Kathleen Streinger, owners of 785 Oenoke Ridge Road. They had sought to halt use of a guest cottage on the property to their west as a dwelling, saying it violated the New Canaan Zoning Regulations and conditions attached to a subdivision approved in 2003. However, the town planner told ZBA members in a memo ahead of the group’s Aug. 1 meeting, a subsequent owner of the property in question (number 757 Oenoke Ridge Road) in 2004 applied for a special permit exempting the historic accessory structure from building coverage under a newly enacted regulation (see page 148 here).

‘Protest’ vs. ‘Public Referendum’: Clarifying P&Z Rules for Opponents of Merritt Village

Several residents concerned about the proposed Merritt Village development have come to local officials with an idea of launching what they’re calling a public “referendum” on the divisive project should the Planning & Zoning Commission approve it, the town planner has confirmed. Presumably, the idea is to push back on a future decision from the appointed body—the same way, say, a resident may pursue a referendum following an appropriation made by the Town Council. Yet, as Town Planner Steve Kleppin said when asked about the prospect with respect to Merritt, the referendum process does not apply to P&Z decisions. P&Z is governed largely by state statute, “not necessarily from local jurisdiction,” he said. “I believe it is set up that way so an applicant can pursue applications in any municipality and follow the same sets of procedures in terms of the timeframes and authority of the [P&Z] Commission,” Kleppin said.