To the Editor:

As most residents are now aware, Bill Gardiner and Judy Larson have submitted a proposal to build a 16-unit condominium complex on the historic Jelliff Mill property. They are able to propose a complex of this density (16 units on 1.4 buildable acres) in a 1-acre residential zone because they are applying under Connecticut State Statute 8-30g, the affordable housing statute. Under this statute, 30 percent, or five of the units, are designated "affordable housing" and the rest will be sold at market rate.

The problems with this proposed development are numerous and will be well documented at the upcoming public special meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission at town hall on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. Jelliff Mill Road (especially near Route 106) is heavily trafficked and there are no shoulders or sidewalks. This property is not on town sewer and their proposed septic system faces many challenges.

The developers' legal team asserts that the residents of New Canaan need not fear this kind of dense developments in other areas of town. Their logic, as stated by their attorney at the Planning and Zoning public hearing on Jan. 24th, is that the Jelliff Mill property is uniquely suited for this kind of development due to its size (1.4 buildable acres) and its great soil. This kind of high-density proposal without regard to neighborhood zoning could happen almost anywhere in town. To say otherwise is not telling the truth. Developers have targeted residential areas in neighboring towns including Darien and Ridgefield.

Lastly and most importantly, residents should understand that the town, through its Inland Wetlands and Planning and Zoning commissions respectively, has the right and responsibility to carefully scrutinize every aspect of this proposed project. If the development is found to pose any health and/or safety issues that would adversely affect New Canaan residents, it has an obligation to deny or at a minimum, as in the case of our neighbors in Ridgefield, extensively modify the proposal. Just this past November, Ridgefield Planning & Zoning reduced an affordable housing application's density by 25 percent and imposed numerous conditions.

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I urge all concerned residents to attend the Planning & Zoning public hearing on Feb. 21. The Inland Wetland's Meeting will continue Monday, Feb. 27.

Lisa Smith

New Canaan