New Canaan Referendum

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Just How Big is the Proposed Office?


Thursday, February 28th, 2002

Welcome to!

And special thanks to everyone who signed our petition. It seems many New Canaanites agree that our public woodlands should not be stripped for a fancy office for 5 administrators and their support staff. As ever, we look forward to bringing this important development question to a townwide vote, and we urge you, your friends and neighbors to vote NO on Friday March 15th, between NOON and 8 PM at New Canaan High School.

Clearly, our efforts to bring this issue to referendum were extremely successful; in less than three weeks, we gathered over 72% MORE signatures than were required. The building's proponents are now claiming that this is your chance to "uphold" their ill-conceived plan, as if the referendum were somehow their idea, but in truth, not one of the small group pushing for Site 1 signed the petition itself. This referendum actually gives New Canaanites the opportunity to reject Site 1, to at last let our voices be heard loud and clear, to JUST VOTE NO.

The Referendum Vote

Last year, over the course of the spring and summer, the folks from Hands Off Waveny gathered over 1,000 signatures of New Canaanites opposed to constructing an office building in "Site 1," within the highly-visible wooded buffer along South Avenue. In the face of that petition, reasonable New Canaanites might have supposed that our representative government would take notice, and find a different solution. Instead, the "town fathers" dismissed the list, pretending it was merely the ranting of "Democrats" or "out-of-towners" or "children" (these are actual characterizations expressed by Town Hall).

Far from it! This year, after the Town Council voted to spend $1.679 million of our taxpayer money to clear-cut Waveny's woods and build the huge office, over 1,000 New Canaanites (995 registered New Canaan voters) signed a petition (in under 3 weeks) to instead bring this important development question to a townwide vote.

As you might expect, the petition represents an impressive cross-section of our community. The large majority of signers are New Canaan Republicans, with plenty of Democrats and Independents as well; there are long-time residents and newcomers; school parents and grandparents; people from virtually every street in town.

In opposition to this widespread community effort, a small number of people (primarily from the building committee itself) are working to impose their naturally destructive and extravagant building (for 5 administrators and their support staff) on the Town as a whole. The narrow interests of the Site 1 proponents must be countered by the votes of many. Please cast your "NO" vote in the referendum on March 15. The voice of New Canaan citizens, parents and taxpayers must be heard for the good of the whole town.

Vote While You Can!

Last time New Canaan had a referendum, the Town Council chose to hold the vote on a Saturday, with polls open from 6 AM to 8 PM, the maximum time allowed by the State of Connecticut.

This time, however, the Town Council has acted in a much different manner. In a special "emergency" session, they decided to hold the referendum on a Friday, with polls open from NOON until 8 PM, the state's legal bare MINIMUM.

As usual, by their words, Site 1's proponents say they encourage public participation. By their actions, however, they've curtailed your opportunity to vote in person by 43%.

This Land is Your Land

The building's proponents claim that:

"The land between the high school and South Avenue was a gift to the Town by Mrs. Ruth Lapham Lloyd for school purposes. The deeds say, 'the said premises shall be used for school purposes only.' What could be clearer?"

What could be clearer? Well, this: they've conveniently neglected to include any references whatsoever to the Agreement we've all been living under for the past 28 years. In 1974, in light of the development of Waveny, the New Canaan Board of Selectmen signed this resolution and agreement, specifically protecting the wooded buffer:

"WHEREAS, because of the proposed eventual development of the so-called Lloyd property owned by the Town of New Canaan…

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that a parcel of land in area 19.089 acres, owned by the Town of New Canaan… be set aside and maintained in its present state under the control and supervision of the Board of Education and be used for the purposes of nature study and conservation only."

Again, by their words, Site 1's proponents say they want you to vote with the facts, but by their willful acts of factual omission, it's clear there are many significant facts they just don't want you to consider. In 1974, the Board of Selectmen voted to protect this part of Waveny, and so it has been protected for nearly 30 years; today, the powers-that-be find this Agreement inconvenient, and are suddenly happy to betray it and to declare Waveny's woods "insignificant."

What is this referendum about?

Despite attempts by the opposition to paint this as a "school issue," most New Canaanites know what it really is. It's about the seemingly untrammeled development we're seeing in and adjacent to our beautiful town parks. Mill Pond, Mead Park, Waveny… as New Canaanites, we expect higher standards from Town Hall than we do from developers. And despite the building proponents' hard work, we don't see that they've ever proved the necessity for clear-cutting over 17,000 square feet of tall trees in the highly-visible wooded buffer between South Avenue and the high school campus.

It's time to put a stop to this random, haphazard development and deterioration of our public spaces. For today's New Canaanites, the time is now; this is our hour upon the stage. Will we preserve Waveny's woods as those before us have done so ably? Or will we just strip and fragment and clear-cut our natural legacy for an office that could very reasonably be located somewhere else?


We've been saying for months that the building committee wants to clear-cut 16,000 square feet of Waveny's woods, since that was the number the committee provided to the Town Council last December. In fact, according to new figures from the Committee For Site One, the actual area to be clear-cut is even larger, at 17,424 square feet. We apologize for understating the amount of public woodlands slated to be destroyed by the Site 1 plan.