Windsome Farms dispute slowly inches towards Trial
Published 7:25 pm, Wednesday, December 1, 2010
A legal dispute over property adjustment at Windsome Farms is slowly inching towards a trial. The case, which was filed nearly three years ago, includes the New Canaan Planning and Zoning Commission, the Grace Church and residents of New York State.
Back in November 2007, the Planning and Zoning Commission allowed the sale of around 48 acres of Windsome Farms property to be sold to Grace Property Holdings LLC through a subdivision.
Problems arose when the commission granted the church a special permit to construct a temporary sanctuary for 900 people while a permanent structure was pending. This did not sit well with two couples who live nearly 100 feet from the property.
One of the plaintiffs, New York resident and attorney Sanjit Shah who is representing himself, has had issues with how Grace Church has been conducting business on the property lately.
Recently, at the end of October, New Canaan Motorsports held their 11th annual Road Rally on Windsome Farms.
"On Sunday, traffic on Puddin Hill Road and Lukes Wood Road (on which the sole entrance to the property lies) was horrific, with scores of automobiles traveling to and from the show at speeds well in excess of the posted speed limit," Shah said.
In addition to the traffic issues, Shah believes the event violated certain parameters of the special permit the Planning and Zoning Commission granted Grace Church back in 2007.
According to the contract, police presence is required at the entrance of the property in order to control traffic at all Sunday services, holidays and special events. The permit also indicates that the athletic field should not be rented or used by adult sports leagues without approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Stephen Finn, the attorney for Grace Church, responded by saying that the event "has been previously approved by the appropriate town agencies. In addition, it was coordinated with the assistance of the New Canaan Police Department."
However, Town Planner Steve Kleppin could not "recall or find indication" regarding a request for this year. He added that there were no complaints associated with the 2009 event.
Shah claims that he saw no police officers present at the event and stressed that violations were indeed made in some shape or form.
"If the use of the property for a road race does not violate the letter of these conditions, and I submit that it does, it certainly violates the spirit of the conditions," he said. "The church has often told us that it is interested in being a `good neighbor.' This event is yet another example of how the church doesn't give a darn about the community around it."
In the midst of all the controversy, the judge for the case set a briefing schedule on Nov. 23. According to the schedule, the plaintiffs' briefs are due on Jan. 21 while the defendants' briefs are due Feb. 18. After that, the plaintiffs' can hand in their reply briefs on March 18.
"This means that we will not have a trial until April 2011 at the earliest," Shah said. Having waited three years already, April may seem relatively soon for the three parties involved.