NEW CANAAN — The Grace Farms Foundation is re-filing its application to amend town zoning regulations after the town requested a new application due to technical issues raised in lawsuits from neighbors.
According to town attorney Ira Bloom, the errors were pointed out in one of the two lawsuits against the town. He described the issues as “general,” with one having to do with the final resolution of the approval being filed late.
According to a letter to the foundation from Bloom, after reviewing the appeals, the town found procedural defects in the original application that could force a rehearing several years down the line with a new commission “unfamiliar with the record.”
The letter also said the town could fight these claims in court, but by re-filing the original application, the Grace Farms Foundation could avoid a court later overruling the town’s position.
“That’s a potential procedural defect,” he said. “I believe I could defend that in court, but if we go to court, it could take a couple years and if the judge found a technical error, they could send it back and do it over. To avoid the possibility, I recommended they refile and do it over and be careful about all deadlines and procedures.”
By eliminating the technical errors, Bloom said the scope of the lawsuits against the town will be reduced.
According to Grace Farms Foundation, the foundation has re-filed both the text amendment and special permit application, identical to the original applications filed in April. The new matter will be on an upcoming agenda for public hearing. However, records that include transcripts, professional reports, letters and testimony from the last decision will be part of the second application process.
“Although these would indeed be new applications, my hope is that by incorporating the earlier records, the time required for the Planning and Zoning Commission to hear and decide them will be significantly condensed,” Bloom wrote in his letter to the Foundation.
Bloom said the hope is that by eliminating these technical errors and restarting the process, it will eliminate procedural issues in the future.