$1.1M OK'd to buy Old Mill properties for open space
Updated 1:53 pm, Thursday, May 14, 2015
The Board of Selectmen has approved deals to acquire two flood-prone properties on Old Mill Road that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
The properties at 38 and 40 Old Mill Road will be purchased with $1,111,650 from a Federal Emergency Management Agency hazard-mitigation reimbursement grant. Once they are bought, the cottages will be demolished and the properties held as passive open space, officials said.
The selectmen gave unanimous approval Wednesday morning.
The town got the necessary approvals from the Planning and Zoning Commission, Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting to proceed with the acquisitions, said Assistant Town Attorney Gail Kelly.
The fair market, pre-storm value of the cottage at 38 Old Mill Road was $966,000, with the 75 percent reimbursement, the town will receive $724,725 for that property. The entire amount won't go to the property owner, since a portion of that amount will be set aside for demolition and other related costs.
The same is true for the property at 40 Old Mill Road. The fair market, pre-storm value was $439,900 and with the 75 percent reimbursement, the town gets $329,925.
The cottages were built in the early 1900s. The cottage at 38 Old Mill Road, encompasses 1,008 square feet on a 0.23-acre site, and the other at 40 Old Mill Road, is 660 square feet on 0.005 acres.
"These are remnants of houses that are beyond repair," said First Selectman Jim Marpe.
"This is a good alternative to a blighted condition," Kelly said.
"Do we know what amount of property tax we will lose?" asked Selectman Avi Kaner. It was determined to be $10,000 a year or less.
"Are there any taxes in arrears" on the properties, asked Selectman Helen Garten. Kelly said any unpaid taxes would have to be paid by the homeowners at closing.
She said one owner owes $30,000.
Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury, the town's director of emergency management, said once the properties are purchased, it will take about 12 days to raze them.
Garten asked which town department will be in charge of managing the properties. Kingsbury said he thought it might be the Parks and Recreation Department. He said it will take about a year to "stabilize and seed the land." After that time, he said, "we can decide what we want to do with it."
Resident Don Bergman said that he wants to be sure that when the cottages are torn down and the properties made passive open space, "it's tasteful."
He said the goal should be to "make this really charming space more charming."
"Now we have to figure out what to name those parks," Kaner said.
The selectmen also unanimously approved a residential real estate sales agreement between the town and the owner of property at 199 Newtown Turnpike, also with a hazard mitigation reimbursement grant. That property was damaged during Tropical Storm Irene, Kingsbury said. The fair market value, pre-storm, for that property was $389,300 and the grant amount (75 percent of that amount) is $291,975.
Officials, in earlier discussions about the properties, said the federal government is interested in removing structures from flood zones to reduce the loss of life and properties caused by natural disasters.