NEW CANAAN — The Planning and Zoning Commission was none too happy with the Board of Education, arguing it had essentially bypassed the local regulatory body by hosting the alternative high school program at its central offices.
“It’s Planning and Zoning’s perspective that before they do this, they should have come to us for a permit site application,” Chairman John Goodwin said at a Planning and Zoning meeting Aug. 28.
“We’ll learn more, but what’s unfortunate is that they’re going ahead and doing this without our approval.”
Superintendent of Schools Bryan Luizzi confirmed nine students in the alternative high school program had begun classes Aug. 30 at 39 Locust Ave.
“We got very lucky with this space, we were struggling to find a place and we got something started,” Luizzi said after a Board of Education meeting Tuesday. “We have great teaching staff in this program.”
The superintendent said the Board of Education was in communication with Planning and Zoning and they would see the regulatory body at their Sept. 25 meeting to discuss the reclassification of the space in question from commercial to educational and apply for the site plan permit.
The alternative high school program is one designed for students who, for a variety of reasons, have a difficult time attending the high school full-time.
“This (alternative high school) program is more tailored to these students’ needs,” Luizzi said.
Some commissioners at the Aug. 28 meeting suggested they send the Board of Education a cease-and-desist letter, but this was eventually dismissed by other commissioners, who said doing so would impact the learning of the students in the alternative program.
Town Planner Lynn Brooks said the Board of Education met codes, but it still required a site plan permit from Planning and Zoning.
The Board of Education “brought in an outside consultant to see if they meet safety and fire codes and they do,” Brooks said.
Regardless, members of the Planning and Zoning Commission did not hide their dismay at the Board of Education’s decision.
“They did not do what they were supposed to have done and Planning and Zoning is disappointed and concerned,” Goodwin said.