Rivercrest Condominiums is a great a place to live, the condo owners will tell you – that is, if you don’t mind the safety issues that come with cracked sidewalks and poorly paved roads and driveways.
Condo Association President Peter Smith led a charge Tuesday evening to have members of the deny the release of a $60,000 bond to developer Jay Brodach, of Brodach Rivercrest LLC, and his efforts were well supported. More than 40 residents of the association, located in the southern part of town near the Cheshire line, filled Southington Town Hall in protest of the release of bonds.
“The conditions are unacceptable. The sidewalks are cracked, the driveways were built without crushed stone underneath,” Smith said. “I can’t believe it meets town requirements.”
Residents were not allowed to speak regarding the issue because it was not considered a public hearing, but the concerns and pictures presented by residents left commission members questioning the issues before ultimately approving the request to comply with state regulations.
The commission, acting on the recommendations of Town Attorney Mark Sciota, passed the release of the bond 5-2 with newly appointed commissioner Jim Sinclair and recently elected commissioner Steve Kalkowski opposed.
Sciota said despite the concerns, the issues being addressed by residents were considered “private issues” and with a recommendation from town staff that conditions of a site plan had been met, the town was obligated to release the bond within 65 days or risk facing a lawsuit.
The conditions were so bad that it caused members of the commission to pause before altering their bond motion and even led to an initial motion to deny the bond. The town has 65 days to release a bond after a request is made, as long as staff with the town’s determine that all specifications set forth in the site plan are met.
“I consider this a safety issue, just looking at pictures of the stairs. I am going on the record disputing the guidance of town staff,” said Commissioner Steve Kalkowski.
New Haven-based Attorney Stuart Margolis, who represents Brodach, said his client has met with town staff in the neighborhood already and an inspection found no violations or safety concerns. Brodach was asked to consider an extension to Dec. 6, but declined to grant the commission’s request.
The town should have taken a proactive role beforehand if they had concerns, Margolis said, and failed to bring up any concerns during the previous inspections.
“The developer takes responsibilities as any developer does to comply with town regulations and his reputation is of upmost importance,” Margolis said. “This has gone on for several months and there has been ample opportunity to show lack of compliance; there has been no request to that. (Brodach) will comply with town engineer but we do not agree to an extension. Everything was done in a cooperative manner and requests have been met.”
Margolis and Brodach each declined further comment following the meeting and left quickly, saying their comments were “made on the record during the meeting.”
Commissioners Kevin Conroy, Paul Chaplinsky and Chairman Michael DelSanto, all who said they approved the measure because of regulations and only with the agreement that town staff would inspect the neighborhood thoroughly one more time before granting a final release of the bond, expressed concerns that the work may not meet specifications.
The staff questioned Town Engineer Anthony Tranquillo and said the cracks shown in pictures provided by residents were “more than cosmetic.”
Garry Brumback assured the commission that he would hold staff to that requirement and would personally oversee the final inspection and make sure it’s thorough.
“I went to site this morning, walked a number of sidewalks and it’s a difficult thing to sit on this board and tell residents our hand are tied,” Chaplinsky said. “I think (the staff) needs to work closely with residents and walk every square inch of sidewalks in this neighborhood. We owe it to them to do a final inspection. The motion approved is contingent upon that final inspection and remediation of any non-conformity to regulations.”
Commission Takes Oath, New Members Appointed
The commission was sworn in Tuesday and named their officers for the 2011-13 term, with DelSanto continuing to serve as chairman. Chaplinsky was named vice chairman and Kalkowski, who previously served as an alternate, was named as the commission’s secretary.
There was no controversy in the selection of a new member to replace Zaya Oshana’s seat on the commission. , who previously served on the board before losing his seat during the recent elections, and the Republican-controlled commission ratified the selection 6-0. Oshana left the commission after being elected to the Board of Education. Democrats Ryan Rogers and Susan Locks were appointed to fill the openings as alternates to the commission.
Land Purchases Approved as “Conforming to Town Plan of Development”
The commission voted unanimously to approve an 8-24 request for the purchase of a near Kennedy Middle School. School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. said the land would be used to expand parking and provide a safe barrier between the school and Werking Street.
“The exciting part is that this alleviates a problem with traffic and gives us more space to address that issue,” Erardi said. The selling price, $260,000, falls into scope of the project and is also eligible for 56 percent reimbursement from the state.
In addition, the commission also approved the purchase of the . The property will be purchased for $2.4 million, with $2.335 million of that cost coming in the form of grants from the state.