Contractors at work at 233 Hillspoint Road. / Photos by Thane Grauel
Contractors at work at 233 Hillspoint Road. / Photos by Thane Grauel

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — People living at Old Mill Beach might not be singing the blues much longer over a longstanding eyesore.

The blue-wrapped house at 233 Hillspoint Road has been sold, a hefty fine paid, and work once again is under way.

The troubled property — a home to restaurants that had gone astray from approved conversion-to-house plans — is no longer being fined for blight violations. All penalties have been settled.

The Blight Prevention Board discussed the waterfront house at its meeting Thursday.

“They’re out there, hard at work,” said member Rick Burke.

“Yeah, they’re hard at work out there,” agreed board Chairman Joseph Strickland.

“They’ve already cleaned up the site,” said town Building Official Steve Smith. “They’ve repositioned the fence, so it doesn’t look like it’s a prison. They’ve stripped all the loose Tyvek off, they’ve replaced plywood where needed. They just got their building permit … we gave them a permit to fix the house.”

Smith said the new owner would start on the waterfront side with new siding and work around the building.

Because a permit has been issued and work is being done, it appears the imposition of fines has been halted. Still, board members agreed to keep an eye on the progress for 30 days before removing 233 Hillspoint from its blight agenda.

The sale closed Jan. 30, with Summit Westport LLC buying the property for $4.5 million from 233 LLC.

Summit Westport LLC, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, was formed on Sept. 29, 2023, with a principal named James Pendry at an address on Dixwell Avenue in Hamden.

Building Assistant Michelle Onofrio said Friday the new owner paid the $36,650 in blight violation fines that had accumulated. That was $250 more than anticipated, she said, because the closing was delayed a day.

The board had been ramping up pressure on the previous owners after a long period of unsuccessful starts and unfulfilled promises.

In November 2023, the board boosted daily fines from $100 to $250.

That came after months of frustration trying to get owners to finally cover the blue house wrap and bring it into conformance with approved plans, and years of legal entanglements between various owners, neighbors, and the town and its boards, commissions and lawyers.

“It took such a long time, but I’m glad to hear that news,” Strickland said at Thursday’s meeting.

“I was out there today,” Smith said. “He’s working diligently on it. He doesn’t want the fine to continue.”

Strickland asked Smith if the plans that were approved reflected the window relocation and other factors approved previously by land-use boards.

“He has plans to build what was approved by ZBA,” Smith said.

If 233 Hillspoint is removed from the blight agenda next month, and no new complaints are made, it will be the first time in some time the board — which appears to listen to property owners with understanding and much patience before calling down the thunder — has had nothing on its docket.

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 36 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.