The blue tarp draped over the 820 Farmington Ave. property may not have been so bad, but a trailer covered in graffiti and waist-high grass were too much, members of the Town Council agreed Tuesday in putting the property on the town’s Blight List.
The property, along with land stretching to Canal Path with the jewelry and frame stores, is the subject of a lawsuit filed by property owner, 1 Waterville Road LLC, against the Town Plan and Zoning Commission a year ago.
Putting the property on the blighted building list has nothing to do with the suit, town officials said, at least not on the town’s side.
“Because he’s unhappy with TPZ he’s not going to maintain his property,” said Town Manager Kathy Eagen. “We had put off putting it on the blighted building list because we were hopeful we could work something out, but it’s becoming evident that’s not the case.”
Council members agreed.
“It’s right at the entrance to our town and to me it’s more than unsightly — it’s blighted,” said Town Council Chairman Mike Clark. “This is the reason for this ordinance and we have to make it very clear that we have a lot of pride in our town… we’ve tried to work with this owner.”
For each day the property remains in its current condition, owners are fined $100 a day. In addition, the town sent a cease and desist order on the trailer, which commands another $150 a day.
But the owner filed a permit for some demolition work on the property and intends to use the trailer as a dumpster, which makes the trailer allowable until the demolition project is complete, Eagen said.
The original proposal for the 2.2 acres spanning from 1 and 2 Canal Path to 820 and 830 Farmington Ave. and 1 and 3 Waterville Road included demolishing the two buildings on Canal Path and adding retail and office space, including a bank.
Traffic concerns were the major reasons the zoning commission denied the application, said Town Planner Jeffrey Ollendorf.
“The suit is an effort to overturn the P&Z denial and allow them to construct the plan as denied,” Ollendorf said. He said they had been working with the plan’s developers, Reno Properties Group LLC, to make changes to the plan.
Since September 2010, the zoning commission has held executive sessions on the project, including one last week.
“My guess is we’ll huddle again at the end of the month,” Ollendorf said. “It was a 3-3 vote so it wasn’t overwhelmingly rejected.”
Dan Garofalo of Reno Properties Group wouldn’t say much about the plan or the property’s maintenance but said the company is interested in going ahead with the plan and he’d be freer to discuss the issue on Wednesday.
“We’re hopeful we can resolve it,” he said.