Update: Bank refuses town’s offer for Norfield Road property

48-norfield_guideraThis story was updated from previous Breaking News story.

Fairfield County Bank has turned down the town’s offer to purchase the property at 48 Norfield Road.

Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said she made an offer of $610,000 to Paul McNamara, the bank’s chairman of the board of directors, and the offer was declined.

The offer was made on Wednesday, June 26, following a Town Meeting vote the night before that approved a purchase price of $610,000 for the property, $140,000 less than the $750,000 purchase price the Board of Selectmen had asked for.

Ms. Weinstein told the crowd of nearly 100 people at the Town Meeting that Fairfield County Bank had originally wanted around $1 million for the house and property. The first selectman negotiated the number down to $750,000, which the Board of Selectmen felt comfortable bringing to the voters, Ms. Weinstein said.

The property sits on one acre in the center of town and formerly housed the law office of former Weston First Selectman George Guidera. It is contiguous with a block of land already owned by the town, which includes town hall, the Norfield Firehouse, the Onion Barn, library, bus depot, and the school campus.

At the Town Meeting, resident Tom Failla called for an amendment to the $750,000 motion reducing the offer to a $610,000 maximum purchase price. The reduction was based on an estimate that approximately $280,000 would be needed for property repairs and upgrades.

Mr. Failla said he would like the town to “split the difference” and ask the bank to lower its asking price by half the $280,000 amount, lowering the purchase price to $610,000.

The motion to amend the maximum price the town could offer passed 43-34.

The amended motion giving the town permission to make the offer then passed in a 44-35 vote.

Ms. Weinstein warned residents at the Town Meeting that she did not believe the bank would accept anything lower than $750,000. When the amended motion passed, she said she would do her best to negotiate an offer for $610,000.

As Ms. Weinstein expected, on Wednesday the bank rejected the town’s offer for $610,000, she said.

“It makes sense for the town to own that property. It’s uniquely situated and fits in with the plan of development. I hope the voters at the Town Meeting weren’t penny wise and pound foolish,” she said.

The bank owns the property due to a foreclosure and has about $1.2 million in debt on it, Ms. Weinstein said.

She said Mr. McNamara told her he will ask the bank’s board of directors if they want to make a counter offer to the town.

If there is a counter offer, Ms. Weinstein said the selectmen will consider it, and if their vote is positive, the board will bring it to another Town Meeting, probably in September.

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