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New Canaan YMCA Seeks To Expand and Fix Pools

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – The New Canaan YMCA wants to change some rules to expedite the process when it comes time to expand its pools. But those adjustments have some neighbors concerned.

Because the YMCA, located off South Avenue, is in a residential zone, it must receive a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals as well as have its plans approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission if it wants to expand its current footprint. The club has conceptual plans to expand and upgrade its two pools, one built in the late 1960s and the other in the 1970s. The changes could expand the building by about 2,000 square feet.

YMCA Executive Director Craig Panzano said the club only wants to streamline the process and that the variance process is an unnecessary step since any plans would still have to go through the scrutiny of the planning commission. Just one person, he said, could prevent the club from getting a variance, even if the majority of neighbors support the expansion.

“We will have to go to the planning board and present everything,” Panzano said. “It streamlines everything without reducing the voice of the neighborhood and the town. Since we’re a special organization in a residential neighborhood, it would make sense just to go through the special permit process.”

Tom Schulte, a resident of nearby Danvers Lane, says he and other YMCA neighbors are wary of allowing the club to skirt the variance rules because they haven’t seen what’s planned. Schulte also worries that changing the rules might open the door for other expansions to take place more easily.

“How are they hampered from providing services from the physical footprint of the building?” Schulte said. “They do need to show the hardship.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission closed a public hearing on the club’s request Tuesday and will consider taking a vote at its Feb. 28 meeting.

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