Following a public hearing Tuesday night, the Town Council voted 6-5 to submit a Transportation-Oriented Development grant application to study the feasibility of adding tiered parking and senior housing at the lumberyard parking lot.
Town Council chair Mark DeWaele and Council members Ken Campbell, Beth Jones, Tucker Murhpy, Tom O’Dea and Penny Young voted to give permission to submit the application. Council members Kit Devereaux, John Emert, Paul Foley, Bob Hamill and Chris Hussey voted against. Steve Karl abstained.
The vote was taken two days before the Sept. 15 . The town is asking for $495,000 for the study.
Opponents of the application said their concerns range from losing control of the town-owned lumberyard property, to a single special interest group — in this case, seniors — being given special consideration, to the disruption displaced commuters would face while construction is underway.
said he confirmed with the Office of Policy and Management that the town is under no obligation to accept the grant if it is awarded, and said the grant is specifically to study options for the lumberyard space.
“I wouldn’t see it as making recommendations,” he told Patch. “It’s a feasibility study to see what’s possible.”
Foley said he was disappointed by the 's decision, and said he thinks the study proposed by the grant application is unnecessary.
“This is just one giant wrecking ball right down town,” he told Patch. “If you want to clean up the lumberyard, make it more attractive, we don’t need a study to do that. The goal here is to get it for senior housing. The senior housing group has been looking for a location for a long time. They looked at the Waveny mulch pile, then the library, then they looked at Merritt Apartments and decided that’s too expensive. Now they’re going to grab some free land at the lumberyard.”
Selectman Rob Mallozzi said he has received calls from residents concerned about the conditions of the application.
“It certainly seemed to me that we are not opening up ourselves to development by the DOT,” he said. “People feel there are more encumbrances to the grant application. I don’t know that that’s true.”
Foley said he questions the use of the grant money for this project.
“We’re wasting taxpayer money and participating in that waste,” he said. “It was a noble cause to promote residential development near transportation sites along the main line. To take these funds from the state and and then to use them to promote senior housing in New Canaan so people in New Canaan have affordable housing is a misuse of funds.”