What could Richard Gere’s New Canaan farm look like?

NEW CANAAN — The Planning and Zoning Commission approved Richard Gere’s application to convert part of his 32-acre property on Brookwood Lane into a farm. The actor, his wife and their representatives have plenty of ideas on what it will look like. 

During the Aug. 29 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, Gere, his wife Alejandra Silva, his lawyer David Rucci, and Sean Keating, landscape designer and owner of Stamford-based TLC Lawn and Landscaping Services, presented their plan for the farm.

The farm was already supported by the Connecticut Farm Bureau and needed approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission to move forward.

During the meeting, Rucci showed the commission multiple current pictures of the property and explained how the Geres planned on using the space in the future.

Potential uses of the land include planting berry bushes, putting in a raised bed vegetable garden, planting bulbs for cutting flowers and installing a small greenhouse. They could also add a chicken coop and goats. There are already sheds on the property that can be used for storing farm equipment, Keating said. 

“One of the things to also recognize about this particular piece of property is (that) it’s always had some sort of kind of farm aspect to it,” Rucci said. 

The property extends along Brookwood Lane and Glen Drive on the west and is bordered by Smith Ridge and Norholt Drive on the east and the New Canaan Field Club on the south. 

The team has identified areas on the property where they plan on growing mushrooms that will then be transported for sale to local restaurants. 

“We plan to deliver our produce in small quantities to local restaurants. Especially with mushrooms, it’s important that they’re fresh. There will be no sales on site and the farm is not open to the public,” Keating said.   

A challenge the Geres will have is operating the farm while navigating the wetlands on the property. To operate their farm within 50 feet of the wetlands, they would need to seek approval from the town’s Inland Wetlands Commission. 

The current site map does not penetrate this 50-feet barrier since it was designed with these wetlands in mind. The map received the approval of  Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Director Kathleen Holland before it was presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission. 

One issue the commission raised was the location of the goat paddock on the property.

On the proposed map, the paddock comes just off the cul-de-sac. A commission member questioned if additional landscaping would be used to obstruct the view of the paddock from the street.

Rucci noted that if the goats were to be approved in the future, they can revisit the landscaping and determine if the view is obstructed enough. He did emphasize how important privacy is for the Geres and expects that the current obstruction would be enough. 

“Privacy is very important … for the applicants, so there is a lot of screening that exists,” Rucci said. “There’s a big fence there now. There is actually a barbed wire fence there as well. It’s pretty well screened right now.” 

There is already an existing structure for the goat paddock, so a new structure does not need to be built, but the applicants are willing to move the structure back away from the road if needed, Keating said. 

“Frankly we don’t want to see anyone outside either,” Gere said during the meeting. “So we’ve been planting along our perimeter.” 

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