Weed and Elm: Affordable Housing Application Filed with P&Z

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Rendering of proposed development at Weed and Elm. Specs by The Eisen Group

Thirty-one of the 102 units proposed for a multi-family residential development at Weed and Elm Streets are to be rented at “affordable” rates, according to an application filed this week with the town.

Proposed development at Weed and Elm. Specs by The Eisen Group

Those restricted rates—calculated using Fair Market Rents, currently about $1,033 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,264 for a two-bedroom, and made available to those who are eligible based on household income—would be in effect for the 31 apartments for 40 years, under the three-part application filed Monday with the Planning & Zoning Commission by attorney Timothy Hollister of Hartford-based Hinckley Allen. 

The proposed development at 751 Weed St.—a 3.1-acre parcel owned by 751 Weed Street, LLC—is being filed as an “8-30g” application, a reference to the section number under Chapter 126a of the Connecticut General Statutes. 

Proposed development at Weed and Elm. Specs by The Eisen Group

For towns such as New Canaan that do not meet a standard whereby 10% of all housing stock qualifies as affordable under the state’s definition, the law allows developers who set aside as affordable a certain percentage of units in new developments to skirt local planning regulations. New Canaan is not expected to achieve the 10% threshold. 

Though neighboring towns including Darien and Wilton have had multiple 8-30g applications, the redevelopment at Weed and Elm would be a rare example of such a project in New Canaan. 

The town in recent years has achieved relief from the state law by redeveloping New Canaan Housing Authority properties on Millport Avenue at greater density in order to create more affordable units. 

Officials had hoped to earn another four-year “moratorium” with the rebuilding of the Canaan Parish complex at Lakeview Avenue and Route 123, a long-planned project. But financing was delayed by state budget difficulties and the pandemic, Housing Authority officials have said, and the town is now susceptible to 8-30g applications. 

The town currently is preparing to apply for its next Certificate of Affordable Housing Completion, though no matter when that application goes in, it will take at least 90 days for the state to issue the Certificate, and 8-30g applications filed up until its issuance must be processed.

News of the proposal at Weed and Elm broke last week, after a separate application from the property owner—made to the New Canaan Water Pollution Control Authority, regarding sewer capacity and approval for hook-ups—was made public. (In New Canaan, the Board of Finance acts as WPCA, and at its Feb. 10 meeting formally noted the application’s filing and said it would make a decision in April-May, as per a 65-day timeframe spelled out under state law.)

Arnold Karp is developer and owner of the property, the sewer application said.

In comments on the article and social media, dozens of residents have criticized Karp and the proposal, saying it’s too big, unwanted and would negatively impact the neighborhood and town.

This week’s application to P&Z includes a site plan showing a U-shaped five-story building (one ground-level parking story, itself partially below-ground, plus four stories of residential units). The application itself has three parts: the site plan plus a proposed “Transit-Oriented Multi-Family Zone” and attendant zoning boundary change for the property, currently located in the one-acre residential zone. The proposed new zone is designed to “add to the diversity of housing types in New Canaan; and to provide housing located within walking distance of the Metro North train station and the downtown area of shops and services.” It calls for 1.5 parking spaces per unit, among other criteria related to lot coverage and dimensions, building height, floor areas and setbacks.

Hollister said in the application that “[s]everal characteristics of the parcel and surrounding area make it appropriate for the proposed multi-family residential redevelopment.” They include its proximity to the downtown and train station (a crosswalk would be installed allowing residents to get to the south side of Elm Street, where there’s a sidewalk running down toward the business district, the application said), existence of several other multifamily residences nearby and proposed total building height comparable to other homes in the neighborhood.

The proposed building meets setbacks for the one-acre zone, will be buffered through existing and supplemental trees, is consistent with a document that guides development in New Canaan and will be environmentally sustainable, Hollister said in the application. 

According to an traffic assessment, “The development will slightly modify the Level of Service at the intersection of Weed and Elm, but the increases are minor – a 7.7 second increase during the AM peak hour and a 2.5 second increase during the PM peak hour.”

“Queue lengths along both Weed and Elm as a result of the development will be similar to existing conditions; the only change is an addition of 1.2 vehicles in queue at the westbound approach to the Weed and Elm intersection during the AM peak hour,” the application said.

P&Z’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22.

23 thoughts on “Weed and Elm: Affordable Housing Application Filed with P&Z

  1. I cannot imagine a greater aesthetic insult to the town and citizens of New Canaan.
    Placing such a 5 story building in the middle of 1acre residential area is obscene – especially when there are more suitable town sites like the Lumberyard lot available.

    • It’s on top of a hill, exacerbating its 5-story insult. Like the Vue, it will be a visible hulk from a long distance away. Looking west from the center of town, you’ll see it.

  2. This is not the right place for 102 apartments. It’s a proper residential neighborhood, not a high density area. Karp should know better since he claims to care about the town.

  3. I seriously can not even believe that this 102 unit monstrosity is up for consideration at the corner of Weed and Elm.

    So in 2017 the Planning and Zoning denied a request from Andy Glazer to put 6 two story homes where the Roger Sherman Inn is several years ago, yet the P&Z is actually considering this horrific 5 story 102 unit development at one of the prime entry ways to our town? At the time when the P&Z denied this it was quoted, ““The concerns of the commission are ones of density, not so much that it’s housing,” Commissioner John Kriz said in 2017. If density was an issue with P&Z in 2017 why would 2022 be any different?

    Can anyone make any sense of this or is Arnold Karp bullying the town into getting everything he applies for approved. I will say Arnold Karp and his New Canaan realtor presented an offer to buy my parents home in New Canaan in 2020. The offer came with a list of insults including, “the offer price reflects the challenges this house presents…the short steps/lips between rooms that needs to be leveled and the first floor master and systems replacement”, “the layout is not suitable for most families and re-sale may be a challenge”when presenting a low ball offer. My siblings and I wondered who would have the audacity to present such an offer on a $1.7 million dollar home with a “list of challenges this house presents”. We found out quickly that Arnold Karp was trying to bully us into accepting his offer. This is exactly what he is doing with the town. He is trying to bully the P&Z and Town into accepting this because of the lack of affordable housing and making 31 of these units “affordable” so he’s looking like a hero and saving the day. Remember Arnold Karp doesn’t live in New Canaan and doesn’t care what happens to the corner of Weed and Elm – It’s all about the $$!!

    We need to hold our elected officials accountable here and not let Karp get away with another disaster that will destroy New Canaan forever!

  4. Lions and Tigers and Affordable Housing–Oh My! So, step 1- Propose affordable housing. Step 2 – Wait for wave of negative reactions. Step 3 – Propose more acceptable, more profitable high end luxury housing instead. Step 4 – Get acceptance for luxury housing to prevent affordable housing. Step 5 – Get richer while saving our downtown.

  5. This is just the beginning if the proposals in Hartford come to fruition. They want to abolish single-family zoning altogether, allocate 10% of the land in each town (with 5,000 residents or more) to multi-family and mixed use properties, financially penalize towns with zoning codes considered “segregationist” or “exclusionary,” and allow local public housing authorities (Norwalk/Stamford for instance) to expand their areas of operation by 15 miles to “high opportunity” areas, including those outside town boundaries.

    Are we starting to understand what politicians and school teachers mean when they use the term “equity?” Elections have consequences.

  6. It’s obvious that this idea is beyond terrible and everyone hates it. Aside from all of that, my question is would it kill one of these developers to hire an actual architect? If they are going to insist on ruining the town couldn’t they at least do it with people who know anything about design? Then again, I’m guessing if they have no problem ignoring the charm, small-town-feel and will of the people in New Canaan, they probably have less-than-zero problem dismissing the legacy Philip Johnson, Eliot Noyes, Jens Risom, etc established during the 20th century. Shame.

  7. All I can think of or say is this proposed huge complex on Weed and Elm is the latest attempt to literally destroy the town of New Cannan! I’m all for affordable housing but it should not be built in a single home residential area!
    Our town has better areas for 102 unit complex that doesn’t have the potential of ruining other residents’ lives.
    New Canaan is a beautiful quaint town and we hope the quest to make money doesn’t ruin it!

    • I completely agree with you Sandy. The town has a responsibility to build a significant supply of affordable housing. This is NOT it!

  8. I believe New Canaan is for creating diversity and affordable housing, but New Canaan is against unsafe and predatory builders. This historic town can be preserved while embracing change, but we should be able to create and manage that change in a responsible way that actually works!

  9. There is bipartisan support for reigning in 8-30g and its unfortunate consequences. The law will likely be amended to prevent obvious abuses such as this. The tactic here must be to stall until Hartford fixes the mess it created. There appear to be a plethora of legitimate reasons for denying this application- impacts to air quality, sewage, traffic, etc. What is the worst that comes of a denial? That the developers sue the town? Let them. Litigation will take years and in that time the ground swell of anger among citizens will lead to changes in the laws and this story will gain more news coverage (hello News 12), rendering the developers pariahs in their communities (imagine the whispers and dirty looks at their local Whole Foods and country clubs?). The direction of the wind indicates that citizens are regaining ground from invasive laws and bureaucrats. If even San Franciso can recall members of their school board, then I have hope for the Constitution State. Fight, stall, and win.

  10. This isn’t the Bronx or Queens. A development of this size and scope would be acceptable in a large urban area but definitely not in a town like New Canaan. I’m all for affordable housing. However, it needs to be done in a way that conforms to the characteristics of the town. For that reason it is my sincere hope that the P&Z Commission will take a sensible and rational approach and reject this horrific proposal in its present form. The way the Vue Apartments were fashioned was bad enough. New Canaan deserves better and there’s no reason why we can’t aspire to a higher standard.

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