On Monday, Aug. 16GOOD Morning Wilton reported that a special permit application had been submitted to the town for a small, private, special-ed school to be located in the former ABC (A Better Chance of Wilton) boys’ residence at 15 Cannon Rd. The application, submitted at the very end of July, was listed on the agenda for Monday evening’s Planning and Zoning Commission to be accepted by the commission.

Not so fast.

Shortly after the story was published, GOOD Morning Wilton heard from multiple people connected to the application that the deal between representatives of the school, Cajal Academy, and the owner of the property had fallen apart.

Town Planner Michael Wrinn was surprised the proposal wouldn’t be moving forward, given how solid the application was. “It’s one of the most thorough applications I’ve seen. You could tell they put a lot of time and work into it,” he told GMW Monday morning.

Later that evening Wrinn confirmed the news to P&Z commissioners.

“This one has just been withdrawn. We got notification today, I guess they couldn’t come to a deal between parties,” Wrinn announced, adding, “They are looking for another spot in town but no application, it’s withdrawn.”

Cajal’s head of school, Cheryl Viirand, emailed GMW to say, “(with a heavy heart) … our hopes to move into the ABC Wilton property have fallen through due to circumstances outside of our control.”

Viirand echoed Wrinn by noting that Cajal Academy personnel “continue to actively evaluate alternative properties in Wilton and the immediate surroundings, and very much hope to be able to expand our new program from our current location in Fairfield, CT, into the local community this fall.”

Cajal Academy, which was incorporated in Connecticut in 2019, is “for children who have high cognitive profiles coupled with an area of learning, social-emotional or neurophysiological differences,” according to documents that had been filed with the special permit application.

The academy initially planned to have 12 students, supported by five full-time-equivalent staff members — a combination of academic teachers and licensed occupational, physical, psychotherapy, and speech and language therapists.

The academy refers to its students with the descriptor, “twice exceptional” or “2e” for short. It says 2e differences create “a meaningfully different set of academic, social and emotional needs, which can be difficult to accommodate within mainstream schools.”

According to background information submitted with the application, the academy had hoped to resume in-person learning this fall at the Cannon Rd. location, which school officials called an “ideal” facility as it currently exists.

In fact, the application noted just how almost turn-key the property would have been for a school the size of Cajal, with few changes needed to the interior or exterior of the 6,351-square foot building, or to the existing parking areas, driveway, landscape or outbuilding (shed) on the property.

“The building’s configuration is uniquely well-suited for our needs, offering eight large classrooms in addition to a small group classroom, three therapeutic and/or administrative offices, a lunchroom, dedicated spaces for our therapeutic services and a large, beamed multi-purpose room in which to bring our community together.”

ABC Wilton sold the building and two-acre parcel at 15 Cannon Rd. last February to Cannon House LLC for $700,000. Cannon House LLC president, Pamela Aris owns the buildings and property just to the east at 436 Danbury Rd. with her husband, Dr. James Aris. The 1.98 acre property is home to Dr. Aris’ dental practice as well as Rob Sanders Architects, which was the architecture firm involved in the project.

In the original application, Pamela Aris had submitted a letter giving Cajal Acadamy formal permission to apply to the town for the special permit.

“It is with the greatest pleasure that Dr. James Aris, a dentist here in Wilton for over 25 years, and myself look forward to welcoming Cajal Academy, which will be an additional asset to the families of Wilton in the extraordinary education of our children,” she wrote.

GMW has reached out to both Viirand and Aris for further comment, but had not heard back by publication time.