Neighbors get day in court
Published 1:10 am, Friday, July 9, 2010
Neighbors across the New York state border from the 74-acre Windsome Farms property in New Canaan have been granted the opportunity to challenge the town's Planning & Zoning Commission's 2007 decisions regarding the property, despite the fact that a state line runs between their property and the farm.
In November 2007, New Canaan's P&Z Commission granted Pacific Farm LLC to sell approximately 48 acres of the plot to Grace Property Holdings LLC in a subdivision. Additionally, the commission granted a special permit to the property owners, which gave them permission to renovate and add to an existing building on part of the property to "create a temporary sanctuary pending construction of a permanent sanctuary" as part of Grace Church according to court documents.
Shortly after the November 2007 decision, two couples whose property lies within 100 feet of the undivided property filed complaints in Stamford Superior Court.
"The church made motions to dismiss our complaint on the grounds that we didn't have the standing to bring the action since own property in New York and not Connecticut," said Sanjit Shah, one of the New York plaintiffs.
The couples and the church went through several rounds in court, before the Connecticut Supreme Court declared on Friday, July 2, that the New York neighbors have the right to bring their complaints to Superior Court in the state of Connecticut.
"We're basically back to square one," said Shah on Wednesday.
"What will happen now is we're gong to have a briefing on our complaint ... and there will eventually be a trial -- before the end of the year, probably -- as to whether we should win on our complaint and the commission's decision should be reversed," he said.
Shah's complaints stem mainly from traffic concerns, he said.
The land is bordered by Lukles Wood Road and Smith Ridge Road on the Connecticut side, and Puddin Hill Road on the New York side.
"The sole entrance of Lukes Wood Road sort of becomes Puddin Hill Road when it crosses into the state of New York, so a lot of the traffic will be coming on this New York State road," Shah said.
"Their own traffic study shows that 60 percent of the traffic will come through the New York state intersection," he said. "That will have a material adverse impact on traffic on that road; it will increase congestion and road hazards for the many pedestrians and cyclists that use that road.
"What the commission should have done was make their approval contingent upon the approval of the [neighboring] towns of Lewisboro and Pound Ridge, but they didn't do that," Shah said.
"We're gratified that we finally will be having our day in court after two-and-a-half years of litigation," he said.
Representatives from Grace Church could not be reached for comment.