‘You Ultimately Fell Victim To a Bait and Switch’: Pound Ridge Town Supervisor To P&Z on Grace Farms


Grace Farms is operating as something substantially different from a church and its president was less than “brimming with Christian charity” in addressing concerns from the town located immediately to the north, the highest elected official in Pound Ridge, N.Y. told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission in a recent letter.

Pound Ridge Town Supervisor Richard Lyman often hears people recommend that “you must really go to Grace Farms for lunch, it is terrific,” he said in a letter received Aug. 1 by P&Z and obtained by NewCanaanite.com.

That “seems a rather upscale if not perverted twist on the proverbial church basement soup kitchen,” Lyman said in his letter. “Thank you, I’ll pass.”

He added that P&Z members “after all of your hard work on this application … ultimately fell victim to a bait and switch,” saying: “Some of you may recall that I publicly stated in one of your site plan review meetings that following my reaching out to Ms. [Sharon] Prince, president of the Grace Farms Foundation, to open a dialogue between the Town of Pound Ridge and the Foundation to address our concerns, I did not find Grace Church to be exactly brimming with Christian charity.”

Sent a copy of the letter (embedded below as a PDF) and asked for a response, Prince through a spokesperson said: “Grace Farms Foundation will address concerns and questions at the October Planning & Zoning hearing.”

That’s when the commission is expected to discuss publicly a widely anticipated application from Grace Farms to amend its permit. In its wide-ranging and robust uses of its Lukes Wood Road site, the organization appears to have run afoul of the some conditions included in the approval that P&Z had granted in March 2013, officials have said (see a full timeline here). Flagged in May, the concerns were expressed formally by the town in a June letter from the town planner.

Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, a church is a “religious institution” and is subject to “institutional uses” permitted by special permit, as are other organizations in New Canaan (such as Silver Hill Hospital and Philip Johnson Glass House).

Lyman in his letter said that traffic at Grace has been handled well to this point, and added that “Pound Ridge remains focused on the use of our road as an extended driveway to ensure that this ‘Church’ use, or whatever it morphs into in the future, does not negatively affect our taxpayers.”

“Please bear that in mind as you contemplate the necessary changes to their operating permit,” he told P&Z in the letter.

Here’s the full text:




3 thoughts on “‘You Ultimately Fell Victim To a Bait and Switch’: Pound Ridge Town Supervisor To P&Z on Grace Farms

  1. What a great letter, and it’s absolutely true. There is NO CHURCH in New Canaan that has the traffic, ambitious events schedule or sheer volume of people than Grace Farms does.

    I’m tired of people not calling a spade a spade. The organization at Grace Farms wants to be famous. They want attention, accolades and interest. Most churches don’t spend multi-millions of dollars on a rambling building with world famous architecture firm. That isn’t a local church organization ‘doing good’. While there is a portion of the property that hosts the church and related activities, that should be respected and allowed to function, but otherwise it is most certainly a bait and switch. I hope that P+Z doesn’t allow it to continue. It’s situated on a rambling country road that simply can’t handle what’s happening there.

  2. Dear Town Supervisor Richard Lyman—who are you to judge what is “Christian charity” for this or any institution. Additionally, there is no reason your comment or opinion matters as New York State does not ALLOW comment on a New York project from any Connecticut municipality or resident.

  3. Mr. Karp: You are certainly entitled to your opinions, but not your “facts”. CT residents absolutely can comment on cross border applications, and routinely do. And their comments are respectfully entertained in Pound Ridge as were mine before the New Canaan Planning Board. But thanks for making my point. Call me old fashioned, but as I was taught a basic Christian tenet was to “love thy neighbor”. A state line certainly should not alter that concept, and neither will it alter my opinion on Grace Farms “neighborliness” (or lack thereof).

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