Subdivision application returns to P&Z public hearing agenda

NORTH CANAAN — The proposal to create a 20-lot subdivision along the Housatonic River is back on the agenda for the Planning and Zoning Commission.

After several public hearings in the fall of 2023, the application was withdrawn and amended based on commission, resident, and professional feedback. The proposal from contractor Allied Engineering was once more put to public hearing in Town Hall Monday, April 22.

The applicant is seeking approval to split the property, owned by Bruce McEver, into 20 buildable lots and to construct a new road built to town standards. The road will eventually be transferred to town ownership.

Drawings at the Public Hearing showed theoretical 5-bedroom houses on the lots, but the application is not seeking permission to build any homes.

The proposed road will be 26 feet wide and will have fire hydrants installed every 500 feet. A homeowners assocation (HOA) would be created for the subdivision.

The Inland Wetlands Commission has reviewed the amended application and approved it. There will be a conservation easement stretching 300-feet from the river’s edge to protect the inner corridor from construction. River-adjacent properties will own a portion of the conserved land, but the easement itself will be deeded to a land use group and a brush-cleared walking path will be added along the river.

During the fall hearings, many residents expressed concern over the use of Highland Lane (a private, dirt road) as the sole access to the subdivision. In response, the applicant has agreed to pave Highland Lane from Honey Hill Road to the proposed new road.

More than a dozen citizens raised lingering concerns and questions at the April 22 hearing, most related to the plans for Highland Lane.

“I am strongly opposed to the Town of North Canaan taking over a private road,” said Sue Boults. “No where in the Plan of Conservation and Development does it say that North Canaan wants to take over more roads or build more roads.”

Housatonic Valley Association’s Julia Rogers offered advice on alternative ways to structure the conservation easement: “Management of a conservation easement that crosses multiple parcels and doesn’t have road access can be really challenging for a land trust or other entity to manage and enforce. A better solution would be a single parcel that connects directly to the road.”

Naturalist and area conservationist Tom Zetterstrom thanked McEver for his efforts to remediate the property from invasive species. He asked clarifying questions about the land easement, which will be answered when the hearing continues May 13 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

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