Brubeck family asks for subdivision approval

Members and representatives of the family of the late jazz piano legend Dave Brubeck made an emotional plea May 17 to the Inland Wetlands Commission to approve their application for the development of six single-family homes on lots they said Brubeck had intended as an inheritance for his family.

Now, the long and frequently delayed public hearing on the wetlands request is closed, and it is time for the commissioners to “take five” of their own, with 65 days to vote on the application.

“Grandpa Dave was proud of his home and his land,” said Chris Brubeck, Dave Brubeck’s son and a noted jazz musician in his own right, reading from a letter sent from out-of-state by his son, Ben Brubeck.

Chris Brubeck talked about how Dave Brubeck allowed neighbors and others from the community to hike and even ride horses on the property in question, off Millstone Road, for decades. He noted that 80% of the land will be preserved in the development as a conservation easement, so neighbors need not fear an overdevelopment of the land.

Some of the neighbors signed on with attorney Marjorie Shansky as intervenors in the project, however. They want to protect the wetlands, they say.

“The core value is wetlands protection,” Shansky told the commissioners.

Up for consideration is a six-lot reconfiguration of property owned by the Brubeck Trust. The addresses are 221 Millstone Road and 67, 69, 73, 85, and 87 Hickory Hill Road.

“It looks at boundaries, but doesn’t create more lots,” Town Planner Bob Nerney said last fall of the property. “It’s a reshifting, a relocation of lot lines.”

Members of both the Inland Wetlands Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission have  conducted hearings on the proposal.

Attorney Casey Healy, who is representing the trust, closed out the hearing in which he presented experts on engineering and other specialities to show the project would not harm the wetlands environment, which runs along the Comstock Brook.

Healy said more information was provided for this case than is typical for a commercial development, and the Brubeck family has tried very hard to answer all questions and concerns in a spirit of goodwill with the community.

The Brubecks moved to Wilton in 1962 and were always dedicated to the town, said family representative Richard Jeweler. Dave Brubeck died in 2012. Jeweler is a trustee of the Brubeck Trust.

“The intervenors, let’s be honest, they don’t want anything there. It’s nice to have 20 acres over your back fence that someone else is paying $50,000 a year in taxes on. People don’t want the change,” Jeweler said.

There was a subdivision approved there in 1954 and again in 1968. The approval the trust is seeking shows the boundary lines modified from the existing approval.

The applicant wants to modify existing wetland crossings. There would be two common driveways that serve all six lots, one on Millstone Road and one on Hickory Hill Road. An engineer showed how a catch basin has been designed to store stormwater runoff from the driveways.

It has been one of the highest-profile cases before the Inland Wetlands Commission.