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New Canaan Faces Lawsuits On Jelliff Mill Denials

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – The fight to build a townhouse complex on Jelliff Mill Road is moving to the courts after lawsuits were lodged against a pair of New Canaan commissions.

Timothy Hollister, the attorney for 47 Jelliff Mill LLC, says the company and property owners Bryan and Cheryl Gardiner have filed appeals in Stamford Superior Court against the New Canaan Inland Wetlands Commission as well as the Planning and Zoning Commission. The lawsuits seek to overturn rejections of applications for permits.

The developers want to build a 16-unit townhouse project at 41 and 47 Jelliff Mill Road. Five of the units would be considered affordable housing under state rules.

The legal challenge against the planning board was filed Monday, Hollister said, while the suit against the inland wetlands group was filed in June.

“There is nothing in the development plan that needs changing,” Hollister said in an email Tuesday. “In the court appeals, our goal will be to demonstrate that the town's agencies had no basis to deny the applications.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission rejected three requests from the developers in June after several months of public hearings with arguments for and against the housing plan from neighbors. In its denial, the planning commission said it was a bad location for the project, citing a dam near the proposed construction area. The wetlands commission cited a lack of a floodplain permit in rejecting the developer’s request for a wetlands permit.

Opponents, including neighbor Pete Wray, have also filed suit against the wetlands board. The lawsuit says the commission should have denied the permit request based on their concerns, including possible negative effects on the Noroton River.

Ira Bloom, an attorney representing the town, said the commissions “made very comprehensive and complete decisions based on the information that they received.”

It may take several months before a trial starts and about a year before the lawsuits are resolved, Bloom said.

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