Norwalk to New Canaan: House will not be demolished
NEW CANAAN — The wrecking ball will not be tearing down the house on 1124 Valley Road, the Norwalk First Taxing District announced. However, the 4-acre property on which it stands is still not for sale, thus rejecting a $1.2 million offer made by New Canaan First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.
In a news release on May 2, Dominick DiGangi, general manager of the Norwalk First District Water Department, said the demolition permit filed in February had been withdrawn and the district “will not demolish the house.”
This announcement comes in the wake of a response dated April 30 by the District that the 4-acre property was not on the market.
“As Mr. (Dominick) DiGangi and I have tried to make clear since January, the land at 1124 Valley Road is not for sale,” James Fulton, an attorney and trustee for the First Taxing District, wrote in response to an April 23 letter from Moynihan where he had announced a $1.2 million offer to purchase the land.
The response from the Norwalk municipality mentions plans for upgrades of the nearby John E. Riordan Water Treatment Plan involve the land at 1124 Valley Road and that the Board of Commissioners of the District had decided in January that the property would no longer be listed for sale.
These are the latest developments since New Canaan residents interested in saving the 1802 Grupe-Nichols-Browne House from demolition asked town officials, particularly Moynihan and Town Council Chairman John Engel, to intervene in the negotiations with the Norwalk First Taxing District.
A proposal by the district to carve 0.83 acres from the property with the house included has not warranted an offer from preservationist groups or town officials according to Fulton’s letter.
“We remain open to any creative idea to preserve the house,” Fulton wrote.
In April, New Canaan town officials had floated the idea of enacting eminent domain, where the government acquires private property for a fair market price, to obtain the 4-acre property.
In an April meeting, the New Canaan Town Council unanimously voiced its support for the first selectman to advance negotiations with the Norwalk municipality on behalf of the town.
According to Moynihan, to enact eminent domain would require two independent appraisals of the property, followed by legal proceedings. Moynihan said if eminent domain was indeed enacted, the Land Trust would sign an agreement to donate $1.2 million to the town, the amount originally offered by the group to Norwalk.
The taxing district acquired the property abutting the Grupes Reservoir in 2006 for $2.25 million, according to tax records. The most recently appraised value is $1.6 million.
“The town would be the owner of the land,” Moynihan said. “We want to own open space and the preservationists want to maintain the building.”