The volunteers that oversee New Canaan’s historic district—roughly the area around God’s Acre—are calling on town officials to consider a blight citation for a neglected antique home on Main Street.
Tied up in lawsuits and foreclosure proceedings that recently became even more complicated due to a procedural error in court, the 1780-built Greek Revival-style house at 4 Main St. has been vacant for at least three years, officials say.
At their most recent meeting, members of the Historic District Commission voted to contact New Canaan’s building official, invoking the town’s Blight Abatement and Prevention Ordinance.
According to a letter that the commission’s secretary, Terry Spring, filed at Town Hall, the property “has been of concern to the Commission for some time and we note that there has been no improvement in the deteriorating condition of the historic house and grounds.”
“We note the property appears abandoned, the exterior building condition shows general damage and dilapidation of the structure. The yard is unkempt with overgrown grass and weeds and may include damaged trees in danger of falling upon adjoining property. We ask that you enforce the Blight Abatement and Prevention Ordinance in order to protect, preserve and protect public safety and property values within the District.”
New Canaan’s blight ordinance is outlined in Section 7A of the Town Code. Blight itself is defined as “Any condition or combination of conditions in public view upon any residential premises that tends to devalue real estate, or that is a negative influence upon the neighborhood or upon any neighbor’s use and enjoyment of his or her own property, due to, characterized by, or reflective of neglect, decay, deterioration, disrepair, rotting, overgrowth, infestation, dilapidation, or failure to maintain.”
An equally conspicuous potential blight case on Richmond Hill Road already is before New Canaan’s building official.
In June, after talks with one prospective buyer broke down, historic district officials reported that a local builder appeared close to making an offer on the house at 4 Main St., owned since 1984 by Dr. James Talbot. Set on .43 acres, it’s been tied up for years in foreclosure proceedings that have stalled its transfer.
In 2013, a local couple, whose detailed plans for restoring the 10-room, 7,000-square-foot home had been looked on favorably by the commission, made an offer on the home that had been accepted by the bank. Two months later, officials reported that Talbot had rejected that offer.
Last July, a civil court issued a judgment of foreclosure by sale on the property, according to records on file with the Connecticut Judicial Branch. In October, Talbot appealed that decision, and it came to light recently that a procedural error in state court may further delay foreclosure proceedings.
The case is headed to state Appellate Court, a July 22 court filing obtained by NewCanaanite.com shows. Last year, Frank Lieto, an attorney with Goldman Gruder and Woods, who is representing Talbot, successfully argued in Superior Court that because a declaration of default had been entered by the court clerk two days prematurely—prior to the end of the mediation period—that the court’s subsequent actions to proceed with strict foreclosure were invalid and thus should be vacated.
Lieto is requesting that arguments in the foreclosure proceedings be re-heard. In essence, this action either partially or fully “resets” the foreclosure clock and, sans a buyer and agreement, will likely result in foreclosure proceedings being dragged out longer.