Blight Ordinance In Action: A Church Hill Road Eyesore Comes Down

A vacant, deteriorated building on Church Hill Road that town officials have long considered to be an eyesore was demolished this week following the town’s pursuit of its removal through the provisions of the recently enacted municipal anti-blight ordinance.

Workers using heavy equipment demolished the decayed 2,840-square-foot wood-frame structure at 57 Church Hill Road, which formerly was the location of Apex Glass. The glass firm is now located on Riverside Road.

The Church Hill Road structure, which was built in 1940, initially was the site of American Wire. American Wire’s current abutting location at 57-A Church Hill Road (a/k/a 1 Wire Road) lies just northwest of the demolition site.

Both 57 and 57-A Church Hill Road sites are owned by Wilnin Capital, LLC, whose general partner is Ray Chodos of Greenwich.

George Benson, town director of planning and land use, said that the building’s demolition represents the town’s anti-blight ordinance in action.

“It’s great,” he said of the demolition. “We’ve been trying to get it down for a long time,” he added.

The town building department aided the land use agency in pursuing the demolition, he said.

One of the next targets of the anti-blight ordinance will be the demolition of a deteriorated building at 67  Church Hill Road, which formerly served as a Shell gas station, Mr Benson said.

Mr Benson said that it has been one of town officials’ goals to have certain deteriorated structures along Church Hill Road, which are near Exit 10 of Interstate 84, demolished in order to improve the general appearance of that area. The area is considered to be one of the visual “gateways” to Newtown.

Steve Maguire, the town’s anti-blight enforcement officer, termed the removal of the building at 57 Church Hill Road “our first success story” under the terms of the new anti-blight ordinance. The law took effect last September.

The 57 Church Hill Road site has no known contamination issues, according to the town health department.

Chief Town Building Official John Poeltl said that a deteriorated roof on the structure allowed moisture to enter the building, resulting in the deterioration of the flooring within.


Wilnin Capital

Mr Chodos said that the town wanted 57 Church Hill Road demolished, so he had the structure removed.

Mr Chodos explained that Wilnin Capital LLC owns both the 1.2-acre 57 Church Hill Road and the  5.22-acre 57-A Church Hill Road, where the American Wire factory is located. Both sites are served by the same driveway.

Mr Chodos noted that 57 Church Hill Road has about 250 feet of street frontage on Church Hill Road. Both sites have an industrial zoning designation.

Mr Chodos said he has no plans for a future use of the 57 Church Hill site, but is open to suggestions from town officials and from the public as to what would make for a suitable use that serves the public’s needs while still being economically practical for Wilnin Capital.

More broadly, he noted that he owns both parcels, adding that the two abutting sites, which total more than six acres, might be redeveloped in the future with some new use.

Mr Chodos said he is seeking “insights” from local people as to what would make for a “good use” for the real estate.

Both 57 and 57-A Church Hill Road formerly were owned by American Wire Corporation.

In a statement this week, First Selectman Pat Llodra said, “The property at 57 Church Hill Road… was purchased many months ago by an investor [Wilnin] located elsewhere in Connecticut.”

“Our land use department…has been in regular contact with the new owner. Some understandings have been developed about future possibilities on that site, involving that [redevelopable] ‘footprint,’” she said.

“We asked the owner to remove the building, and he has now complied.  We appreciate that the owner understands our interest in improving the aesthetics of that property,” Mrs Llodra said.


(This story was modified at 1:25 pm on February 7, 2014).


Health food store?

The town has 3 grocery stores but no health food store.

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