Opposed to potential housing complex, New Canaan residents want developer’s license revoked


NEW CANAAN – Local developer Arnold Karp and city attorneys refute claims made in a petition filed by residents opposing a permit for a Hill Street driveway they say will lead to a 101-unit affordable housing complex .

In the petition, neighbors of the Hill Street property accused Karp of using “misleading and inaccurate information” to obtain a permit for a driveway, crossing and culvert.

The petition refers to a diagram of a 101-unit affordable 8-30g housing development in the office of Fire Marshal Paul Payne for the Hill Street property. The complaint says Karp Associates’ design is inconsistent with the Inlands Wetlands permit originally applied for in 2014.

The neighbours, who have formed the group New Canaan Residents Against Destructive Development, say the wetland permit was obtained for the property after Karp submitted plans to the Inlands Wetlands Commission for a two-family home.

“Nothing has been approved or even submitted for any of the properties behind the wetland crossing,” on Hill Street, Karp said.

Karp said the fire marshal had the diagram because they were talking about the project conceptually.

Karp, who applied for a 102-unit affordable housing complex at the corner of Weed and Elm streets, describes himself as an “advocate for affordable housing.” While he faced resistance, “I really believe that hard-working people should have decent housing,” he said.

“I don’t care where I build it (affordable housing), but I’m not going to build it,” he added.

The driveway construction, which is nearly 275 feet long, could be used for “two families or more,” Karp added.

For an affordable housing project to be built on Hill Street, “there would be a bid that would go through the usual process,” Karp Associates president and chief financial officer Paul Stone said.

“What happens on the property outside of the regulated activity is irrelevant in the context of a driveway’s wetland review,” city attorneys Ira Bloom and Peter Gelderman wrote in a statement. letter.

In the letter to attorney Frank J. Silvestri, Jr., who represents NCRADD, “the law clearly states that the commission must not speculate beyond what is intended.” The plaintiff is not required to “disclose the end use of the property as part of the consideration of the driveway’s possible impact on wetlands,” Bloom and Gerderman wrote in the letter.

The neighbors’ petition also asks if the driveway over a culvert complies with the permit.

In 2014, the Wetlands Permit allowed a 12 foot wide driveway on the property. It was later revised to allow the builder to install a 16-foot driveway with an “underground drainage system and rock slope stabilization to provide access to two proposed residences”.

The permit stated that it could be “revoked or suspended” if the applicant “exceeds the conditions or limits of this permit” or “has obtained the permit by deception or inaccurate information”.

Karp said Hill Street and the driveway with a culvert conform to the plans for the 16-foot-wide driveway in the permit.

Kathleen Holland, director of Inland Wetlands and Watercourses, said she is “looking into the matter to determine if there are any breaches and will look into it with the commission”.

Neighbors said they filed a complaint with the ethics committee about Holland, who said she had “no comment on a question from the ethics committee.”

“Ethics complaints and the ethics committee’s investigation and handling are confidential matters, in accordance with state and local law, unless and until the board finds probable cause for d ‘other procedures,’ said acting ethics committee chair Tucker Clauss.

Karp is defending his plans for a development that offers market-rate and affordable housing. Karp said he’s heard from potential residents who are interested “if we build a project that has affordable or supportive housing.”

“There is an invisible group that is not insignificant in this city, and in our sister cities, that are overburdened with housing,” and who would be entitled to 8-30g housing, Karp said. He said retail and restaurant owners would find it easier to hire if there was more affordable housing in town.

“I don’t care if it’s a librarian or the bank teller or someone who works in these stores,” Karp said. “There’s no reason we can’t find a place for these people in our community.”

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