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A Wall Divides a Connecticut Town

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The Planning and Zoning Commission has also suggested that the wall is not what its members expected. In a letter to Mr. Karp last November, the commission’s chairman, John Goodwin, requested that a fieldstone veneer be put on the face of the wall, which he said is currently not in keeping “with the drawings that you originally presented as part of your application.”

Mr. Karp refused, noting that nothing in the 65 conditions of approval set by the commission mentioned stone for the retaining walls. Adding a veneer now would cost at least an additional $250,000, he said.

After additional discussions with commission members and the town planner, Mr. Karp has given some ground, however. In late February, he presented a “more robust” landscaping plan for the wall, to begin this spring, with plantings hanging over the top portion, ivies growing up the lower portion, and mature trees planted on the terraced portion between them.

While he still believes the controversy has been overblown, his aim now, he said, is to “put the matter behind us.”

“I don’t get to critique everybody else’s home in New Canaan,” Mr. Karp said. “I don’t understand why everybody gets to critique my project.”

Not everyone is. Dave Prutting, a custom homebuilder, lives directly across the street from the wall, but he’s not upset about it. He opposed the idea of adding a stone veneer, which he said wouldn’t necessarily improve the wall’s appearance, as veneers, too, are a matter of taste. And he is optimistic that expert landscaping might neutralize the presence of the concrete and “salvage the aesthetics.”

In the meantime, he’s made peace with his concrete neighbor.

“Do I love the wall? No,” Mr. Prutting said. “But I can accept the wall.”

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