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Committee: No Delay for Razing New Canaan Building

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – The developers who want to build townhouses at New Canaan’s Jelliff Mill Road can knock down the vacant warehouse on their property without delay once they have a demolition permit.

An attempt to delay demolition for an additional three months failed after the New Canaan Historic Review Committee voted unanimously Wednesday that the former mill building at 47 Jelliff Mill Road does not have any historic, architectural or social significance. A ruling of that sort would have required demolition to be delayed by an extra 90 days.

The developers have applied for a demolition permit. The town building official must review the paperwork.

The 47 Jelliff Mill LLC, the company that represents the owners, plans to raze the building as well as a neighboring home at 41 Jelliff Mill Road to clear the way for a 16-unit townhouse development. Five of the units will be considered affordable housing under state rules.

Several residents, including opponents of the townhouse project, spoke to the committee for more than an hour, seeking to delay the demolition to allow more investigation. Robin Beckett, a local preservationist, said the building has historic significance, referencing the mill property’s inclusion on the State Register of Historic Places.

The committee should act in the community’s interest and allow more time to review other options for the warehouse, which has stood since 1949, including state grants to refurbish the building, Beckett said. “Giving 90 days is a very small concession to what is now deemed to be a very important site in New Canaan,” she said.

Committee Chairman Mike Farrell asked whether it was appropriate to interfere with the property owner’s rights. “We have to make some judgments,” Farrell said.

The building needs to be torn down to make needed repairs to a nearby dam, said representatives from 47 Jelliff Mill LLC. The company does not plan to let preservationists onto the site to do any investigating.

The Planning and Zoning Commission is reviewing the application and deciding whether the developers can get three necessary approvals. The Inland Wetlands Commission recently denied the developers a permit, stating they needed a flood plain permit first.

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