Weston Town Meeting set to vote on property purchase

The town is considering purchasing the property at 48 Norfield Road.

A Town Meeting is set for Tuesday to vote on the purchase of 48 Norfield Road.

Voters are being asked to decide on Tuesday night, June 25, if they want to own the piece of property on the northeast corner of Weston and Norfield roads.

The one-acre parcel with an historic house at 48 Norfield Road, once owned by former First Selectman George Guidera, is being offered to the town by current owner Fairfield County Bank for $750,000. That is about $200,000 less than the appraised value.

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said she had been working with the bank for awhile to come up with a fair price that the residents of the town might consider. When Mr. Guidera first put the house on the market in 2008, it was listed for $2.495 million. When the bank first put it on the market, it was listed at $1.2 million.

The property is bordered by town hall to the east and the Onion Barn and Norfield Firehouse to the north. It would complete a contiguous block of town-owned land, including the Jarvis House property across Norfield Road, the library, police and communication center, and the school campus.

Town officials have not come up with any solid plans for use of the property if the town were to acquire it, other than to say it would be considered as part of a more “global” look at town and school facilities and space needs.

In addition, because it is located in the Norfield Historic District, the Historic District Commission would need to weigh in on what the town could and could do with the property.

“I think it’s an important piece of property for the town to own” even if there are no immediate plans regarding its use, Ms. Weinstein said. “I think we should be taking a long-term view of the property.”

Selectman David Muller said recently he, too, recommends acquiring the property, saying it offers the town “flexibility, contiguity, and opportunity.”

Ideas that have been suggested for use of the property include putting the municipal land use offices there, Parks and Recreation, EMS, or possibly trying to lease it out for commercial use.

Any of those would involve rather substantial renovations and repairs to the house and property.

The town Building Committee received some preliminary estimates for work such as roof replacement, installation of a new septic, interior painting, and repointing of chimneys that total about $250,000. Electrical upgrades will also need to be done, but estimates were not yet available.

Ms. Weinstein said she believes the estimates are “on the high side” but, she said, she wants taxpayers to know there will be costs associated with renovating the building, if that’s what the town chooses to do.

Other possible costs that members of the public brought up at a June 10 public hearing on the purchase include meeting OSHA and ADA requirements, insulation, and possible mold and/or lead paint removal.

The Town Meeting on Tuesday will also be asked to authorize the finance board to determine the best way to fund the purchase. Options include using money from the general fund, short or long term borrowing, issuing of temporary notes, or supplemental appropriations.

The finance board has also asked town officials to look into the possibility of selling other town-owned property as a way to offset some costs.

A favorable Town Meeting vote would also give the first selectman the authority to negotiate the purchase and sign financing documents on behalf of the town.

The house at 28 Norfield Road is more than 250 years old. It was built in 1765 by Eliphalet Coley, and an addition was built in 1830. The addition was originally used to house boarders at the Jarvis Military Academy across the street.

The building has since been renovated to include office space on the ground floor. It has been used for professional services since 1950, housing a few dentists, and Mr. Guidera’s law office.

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