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Jelliff Mill Plan Draws Crowd; Hearing Continues

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – The fate of a proposed housing development at the Jelliff Mill property may not be decided for several months because town officials and residents still have plenty of questions.

Dozens of residents filled Town Hall on Tuesday to hear the request of Bryan and Cheryl Gardiner and 47 Jelliff Mill LLC to transform more than 1.5 acres at the former mill site into 16 townhouses.

Planning and Zoning Chairman Laszlo Papp delayed public comments Tuesday, because of how late the meeting was expected to run with the large crowd. Many of the same residents packed the Town Hall auditorium for Monday’s Inland Wetlands Commission meeting. Residents will have their turn to speak Feb. 21. “Our interest is to have the public heard,” Papp said.

The developers want to amend zoning regulations to allow for a mixed-income housing zone. They also want the properties at 41 and 47 Jelliff Mill Road, where the old mill building and a single-family home stand, to be rezoned. They would like a site plan to be approved there. The closed warehouse is a legally nonconforming use in a residential zone.

The project would include 11 townhouse-style units and five condominium units, which would fall under state affordable housing statutes, said Jelliff Mill LLC attorney Tim Hollister. With so many residents in attendance, Papp asked Hollister to prepare a digital copy of the presentation so residents could see it and ask questions. Hollister said he would respond to questions from the public as well as the planning commission.

Mark Noonan, who lives on St. John Place, said the proposed change would not be good for neighbors because a densely populated community could hurt property values. “It’s not just the value, it’s the quiet enjoyment of their homes,” Noonan said. “Why should these people get thrown under the bus? Changing the zoning is taking something from them, and it’s not fair.”

The original Jelliff Mill stood on the Jelliff Mill Pond since the early 18th century. But when a fire destroyed the building in 1949, the owners replaced it with a concrete structure to prevent another such accident. The neighborhood surrounding the building now is zoned as residential, but the mill was grandfathered in and allowed to operate as an industrial property.

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