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Historic Nod Won't Slow New Canaan Housing Plans

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – A historic designation for a Jelliff Mill Road site will not stop New Canaan developers from going forward with proposed plans to build a townhouse complex.

Members of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance were successful in having the Connecticut Historic Preservation Council include the properties at 41 and 47 Jelliff Mill Road included on the state’s Register of Historic Places. Preservation alliance historian Mimi Findlay said the 1.69-acre site needed to be listed in case the existing home and nearby warehouse were razed.

“In case it is demolished, we felt New Canaan should have a record of what it looks like and have a history of it,” Findlay said.

According to the Preservation Alliance, the site “represents 300 years of New Canaan’s past: from Native American occupation to local industrial history.” The designation does not prevent new development on the site. Homeowners Bryan and Cheryl Gardiner and 47 Jelliff Mill LLC want to build a pair of buildings that would house 16 townhouses. Five of the units will be affordable housing under state regulations. The developers must get approvals from the Inland Wetlands Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission before any work can be done.

Tim Hollister, the attorney representing 47 Jelliff Mill LLC, said his clients initially opposed the Preservation Alliance’s application but are now fine with the application, even though the housing plans will continue.

“We ended up saying, ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,’” Hollister said. “When (the homes) are built, we’ll say they’ll be in the Jelliff Mill Historic District. What a great place to live.”

Findlay, however, hopes the housing project can be stopped, saying the existing warehouse building can be rehabilitated and used as a woodworking shop, among other uses.

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