By Thane Grauel
WESTPORT — The notorious “blue house” on Old Mill Beach, jacked into the air in all its house-wrap glory for years, on Thursday was taken off the town’s blighted properties list.
The Blight Prevention Board took the action after hearing an update on the case. A settlement between the owners and the town has been reached.
Under the deal, elements of the house built without proper approval will be removed, court challenges will be withdrawn, and then permits issued.
The waterfront property was once the site of several restaurants.
Fresenius property off the list, but demolition delayed by HDC
Also removed from the blighted list was 1 Fresenius Road. The property had an unscreened boat and trailer on the property. A fine had been assessed.
The discussion did not make it clear if the problem vehicles had been removed. But it was noted the fine had been paid.
The owner, Antoine Giaume, has applied for a demolition permit. Because the house is more than 50 years old, it had to go before the Historic District Commission, which declined to waive the 180-day waiting period for demolition.
Citation for Twin Oaks Lane property
The owner of 1 Twin Oaks Lane will receive a notice of violation. The property has a dump truck and trailer parked on the lawn, and a possibly unregistered SUV in the driveway.
Neighbors and board members appeared frustrated that complaints to Town Hall about some 30 piles of landfill and blasted rock around the property had not been addressed.
That is outside the purview of the blight board, Chairman Joseph Strickland said.
“At the September meeting we will expect them to have received our letter, whether they choose to attend or not that’s up to them,” Strickland said. “If they’ve been properly noticed … we can then take whatever action we find necessary.”
The property at 11 Edgemarth Lane was discussed, because of vehicles on the property, a refrigerator and other items in the driveway, and wood piles.
“We’ve got to seriously consider starting to fine the property owner for lack of substantial progress,” Strickland said.
Building Official Steve Smith said that process might have to wait for a future meeting for procedural reasons.
“I think we need to officially invite him to the next meeting, and then the board would review it,” Smith said.
Ulbrick property added to blight list
The board placed the property at 6 Ulbrick Lane on the blighted list.
Debra Krayson of 9 Ulbrick Lane said the house been vacant about 10 years. She said she peeked in a window at the front door and saw rodent droppings.
“Nobody does any maintenance to it,” she said. “The grass can grow like three feet high.”
“There’s obviously rodents and vermin in the house,” she said.
She said it’s likely a fire hazard because of the trees and the brush.
One tree fell in the front yard and appears to block the steps to the porch.
Michelle Onofrio, a town building assistant, said the home appears to be owned by an LLC and that attempts to find the owners have been made.
The board voted unanimously to declare the property blighted, based on the grounds of being overgrown and unkept.
Thane Grauel, the Westport Journal executive editor, grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond more than three decades. Learn more about us here.