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New Canaan Residents Sound Off On Jelliff Mill Plan

Residents voiced their opinions about Jelliff Mill development plan.

Simply put, the Jelliff Mill development plan is complex. The proposal by the owners of 41 Jelliff Mill Rd. and 47 Jelliff Mill to construct a 16-unit townhouse and an adjacent building, involves much more than trying to figure out how it can be squeezed onto a 1.6 acre site near the Noroton River. There are safety, sewage, sight distances, parking, traffic, and health issues to be considered. On Tuesday night at Town Hall, residents had the chance to voice their opinions on the proposal to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

"I  thought it was a good meeting," said Laszlo Papp, Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission. "The public had some serious concerns and there was considerable legal issues brought up. We'll have to sort them out and come to conclusion."

According to the application received by Planning and Zoning on Dec. 23, the three structures on the existing property --- the mill, a house, and garage would be demolished, making way for the new complex. Peter Wray, who lives on Bickford Lane, says there are many obstacles to clear before that ever has a chance of ever happening.

"I'm pleased we finally got an opportunity to present our case," said Wray. "Up until now, we haven't been able to lay our cards on the table. I thought the meeting was well-conducted, but we covered only about a third of the issues and many of them are interrelated."

The biggest issue is public safety. Sharat Kalluri, Project Manager of CDM Smith, a New Haven-based firm hired by the town to conduct a traffic impact study, said there were two areas of concern when it came to traffic on Jelliff Mill Road near the driveway of the proposed complex. They are sight distance and turning radius. According to his report, Kalluri said the "intersection" sight distance determines the ability of a motorist to see an approaching vehicle on Jelliff Mill Road. He stated sight distance criterion was not met when looking right from the site driveway and the applicant should address that issue. Kalluri said that turning radius to accommodate delivery trucks and emergency vehicles need to be improved, as well.

Jim Cole, chairman of the New Canaan Police Commission, said the availability of fire apparatus to get into the sites from both directions of Jelliff Mill was a "critical item". Several residents were concerned about the dangers of crossing Jelliff Mill Road during the holidays when the proposed complex gets heavy traffic and there is no available parking. Another study showed the effects of stopped bus near the site complex and how it could back up traffic all the way to Route 106.

Back on January 24, Chris Jarboe of Lovejoy and Rimer, and attorney for the town, said the plan may be denied by the town only if "it is necessary to protect substantial public interests in health, safety or other matters."

Eric Bernheim, an attorney speaking on behalf of residents Howard and Lisa Smith, asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to reconsider the procedure that's being proposed for the application, believing a special permit would be more appropriate. Chairman Papp responded by saying,"The special permit has more consideration than what the law of the 830-G allows. But the applicant is not considering that."

Tim Hollister, attorney representing the Jelliff Mill owners, will reply to the concerns that some of the experts and residents have during a meeting which has been scheduled for March 13 at Town Hall at 7 p.m.

The Inland Wetlands Commission has a meeting on Feb. 27 at Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Mimi Findlay February 23, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Part I I believe Mr. Kalluri was hired by the town to conduct a "peer review" of the previous 2010 traffic study submitted by the applicant when he wanted to build an office building or perhaps the restaurant. This "peer review" can not be considered a new traffic study, which the neighbors felt was necessary. Neighbors were concerned about visitor parking on the road outside the complex, such as on Springwater Lane, not just "during the holidays," but any time the residents have guests. There is no provision for visitor parking on the site. Nor are there sidewalks along the narrow, curving Jelliff Mill Road as it crosses over the bridge. In addition, others mentioned the lack of space for the maneuverability of emergency vehicles, such as large fire trucks and ambulances, could provide a hazardous situation in an emergency. (to be continued) Mimi Findlay
Mimi Findlay February 23, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Part II if the individual units are around 2200 square feet, each is large enough to accommodate one or two children - although the developer assumes there will not be any.... (Interesting to police that!) There are loft and basement spaces that could be used as bedrooms, although they have no baths attached, and are therefore not counted in the septic system requirements - to be discussed at Wetlands. A neighbor who used to operate a nursery school wondered where the children would play, as the only grassy area is in the up-hill northeast corner where the septic's leeching fields are located. Finally, another attorney for the neighbors opined that this site did not qualify for Mixed Income Housing because it had an obligation, stated in the deed, that the owner "Maintain the dam in good repair." Good repair, as now defined and described by the State of CT, requires annual maintenance and could be a costly burden on those in the five Affordable Housing units. Mimi Findlay
Four Jacks February 23, 2012 at 06:36 PM
And how a complex like this would be allowed to be on septic is just mind boggling.
Holley Wright February 23, 2012 at 09:57 PM
My question is how one of many great realtors in town could sell one of the regular priced condos in the complex, when fire and emergency vehicles can't turn around, much less service the place, the basement in one building will require flood insurance, meaning flood, there's no guest parking, no handicapped parking,no sidewalks, the parking spaces for each condo are too small, you can't walk anywhere from there, no place for kids to play or hang out, you have to pay for the maintenance of the dam, the pond too, which needs dredging, and snow removal all for a mere 800 Grand!! Sign me up!!
Kendall L Owott April 09, 2012 at 03:32 PM
What's the problem here? Fire and emergency vehicle turnaround challenges? Potential for flooding? Handicap inadequacies? Traffic congestion? Snow removal impediments? P&Z involvement? Town lawyering? Forget it. These trivial matters were all dealt with in the precedent-setting mindate voted Main St. Sidewalks project. All of your petty concerns are easily neutered with the Plan of Conservation and Development rubber stamp. Please submit your objections in as brief a way as possible to P&Z so they can be addressed in a similar manner when they grant you an audience.

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