For second time, Grace Farms pulls special permit application
Updated 12:56 pm, Wednesday, April 26, 2017
NEW CANAAN — The Grace Farms Foundation has withdrawn its application for a special permit for the second time this year.
According to Town Planner Steve Palmer, the town urged Grace to withdraw its March 27 application after discussing the issue raised by neighbors over the foundation’s request for multiple principal uses. In its application, Grace had asked for permitting that would allow their religious, foundational and philanthropic functions. Neighbors, however, disagreed.
Citing town zoning regulations, Smith Ridge neighbors David Markatos and Jennifer Holme protested the application, calling the request for multiple principal uses a “threshold issue.” Now, Grace Farms will have to rethink its application, which Palmer said is expected in time to be reviewed at the May 30 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
“The applicant has indicated they will submit a new application that includes a request for a text amendment that would permit more than one principal use in addition to a special permit request,” Palmer said.
A statement released by the Grace Farms Foundation stated that a new application would soon be submitted looking to change the zoning itself.
“... resubmit it with a request for a change to the text of the existing Zoning Regulations to allow more than one principal special permit use on a single parcel, as a means of streamlining the issues to be decided by the Commission,” the statement reads.
In January, Grace similarly withdrew a special permit application after a series of meetings with the Planning and Zoning Commission. Since that time Grace has met with Palmer and neighbors in an attempt to address concerns and ease tensions. Markatos and Holme, however, expressed disappointment at what was accomplished in those meetings and what they perceived as an unwillingness to listen to neighbors on some issues, such as multiple uses.
Grace agreed in its application to plant trees to block light and sound from entering neighboring properties, move its walking trails further away from neighboring property lines, establish limits on the number and size of events that could be held in a year and create a Neighbor Outreach Plan.
Still, in order to ensure a positive process, Grace complied with the town’s request and withdrew.
“The Foundation has agreed to do this, in order for the public hearing not to be distracted from the important issues that the Commission has been asked to decide,” the statement from Grace said. “We continue to be heartened by the public outpouring of support for our application and Grace Farms.”