Thursday, December 14, 2017

"New Canaan Made Plain" (my column for the New Canaan Advertiser)

This column is making good on a promise of transparency. As your bow-tie wearing Town Council Chairman, rarely accused of being shy, it’s my charge to let people know what is going on in New Canaan.

Bankwell is quitting the residential mortgage business. Based on Bankwell’s tremendous history and visibility here in New Canaan (sponsoring just about every non-profit event in town) this is a shock. It reflects how competitive the residential mortgage business has become. It’s a funny time to leave the business, just as rates are about to tick up and the business could become more profitable.

The Town Council confirmed Board of Finance nominees: Colleen Baldwin returns; Todd Lavieri is new. When the BOF issued their guidance last month setting a cap of 2% on all budgets and the First Selectman reaffirmed that guidance we set the expectation for a tough budget season.

Town Council announced subcommittees last night. We had huge interest in the Infrastructure and Utilities Subcommittee where we will review potential cell tower sites on town properties (note new cell tower P&Z regulations are in draft for private properties), the roll out of gas service and the newly released Buildings Committee recommendations. Penny Young and Cristina Ross chair our subcommittee with Sven Englund, Joe Palladino, Tom Butterworth and Liz Donovan. New Canaan signaled low appetite for school and park sites. Private cell sites may now emerge.


The Town Council is beginning a new tradition: start each meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance led by local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts. Good for the scouts, doubly good for the adults. We will stand.

People keep asking me what is happening in our real estate market and how will it affect our budget. As of December 1 the number of single-family home sales is up 36%. The median sale price is exactly $1.5 million. Sales below $1.5mm are up 41% while sales above $1.5mm are up 32%. The bottom half took off early this year, sales under $1mm were up 147% in October. Now, we see strength at the higher end as confidence moves up-market. Four sales this year over $5 million with another 2 sales pending is a good sign for the New Canaan market.


All 4 performances of the NEAD Nutcracker sold out last (snowy) weekend, 3000 tickets, the first ever with a live orchestra. Bravo. There’s one (charity) show this Saturday.

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