Developer files appeal of Merritt Village conditions
Updated 9:31 am, Friday, January 6, 2017
NEW CANAAN — Less than a month after receiving a heavily conditioned approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission on its Merritt Village redevelopment, M2 Partners has filed a complaint with state Superior Court in Stamford appealing certain aspects of the approval.
Specifically, in a Dec. 22 appeal filed by attorney Stephen Finn, of Stamford-based Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin and Kuriansky, the appeal questions the commission’s conditions that require further testing on Parcel P of the adjacent Maple Street Cemetery, which, during the commission’s deliberations, was believed not to contain any human remains.
The conditions (5, 21, 22 and 24) require that M2 fence off the parcel during construction and state that the approval is contingent upon the develop providing proof that there are no bodies buried in the parcel and that, should bodies be found in Parcel P, an amended site plan should be submitted for the commission’s review.
The appeal comes after the remains of three bodies were found in Parcel P — comprised of the smaller Parcels F, G, H and I, collectively — in December.
According to the appeal, those conditions “are inconsistent with one another and are otherwise illegal, arbitrary, not supported by substantial evidence and/or do not find a basis in fact or law.”
The document states the fence required in condition 21 would “materially interfere with the approved construction plans.”
According to M2 Partners’ Chief Operating Officer Paul Stone, a new site plan will be submitted to the commission to show where the burials are located in relation to the development.
“Buildings were never planned to be in the cemetery. The abut the cemetery but are certainly not over graves,” Stone said.
Regulations on parking were also listed in the appeal as a grievance.
Condition 11, which stipulates that M2 should build an underground parking garage with 193 spaces, 116 of which would be tandem and 77 of which would be individual, is, according to the document, “impossible to satisfy given the size of the parking garage approved by the Commission.”
Also opposed is condition 26, which states that requires the installation of a 6-foot temporary fence with a dirt screen on either side around the perimeter of the site.
According to M2, requiring a dirt screen on either side of the fence is “an arbitrary and unnecessary condition, not in accordance with the applicable zoning regulations.”
“It’s going to make fencing less stable. Our fencing contractor said it is not a good idea, and that it would make the barrier less stable,” Stone said.
A summons issued by the Superior Court requires a written statement from the Planning and Zoning Commission by Feb. 14, 2017.
“This is an administrative appeal, basically to hold our place in line if it were needed to go to the state level. We have every reason to believe that we would work this out in front of the commission locally,” Stone said.