Town Officials Meet with Residents to Discuss Abandoned Home

The property at 46 Barbara Road has been uninhabited since 2008, according to a letter in the Town Manager's Report.

Town officials met with a number of Tolland residents from Barbara Road last month to discuss the home at 46 Barbara Road, which has been abandoned for a number of years.

According to the summary in the Town Manager's Report, the home is not habitable because its concrete foundation is failing. However, the report explains that the house is not in imminent danger of collapsing, a criteria which is necessary for the town's building official to have it demolished.

Deutsche Bank holds the mortgage and pays taxes on the property, and the town is pursuing a case in Superior Court to have the home demolished, the report said.

A letter from a number of Barbara Road residents said that they are concerned about potentially increased crime, vandalism and fire threats at the property. The letter also states that the home has been abandoned since 2008. 

The letter is included in the Town Manager's Report.

Long time resident September 09, 2012 at 02:46 PM
I have seen this house and understand why the neighbors would be upset. That being said, there are other properties in town that appear just as bad and the town has not used its resources to pursue the demolition of them despite neighbors lobbying. Tolland does not have a blight ordinance (and there are good reasons not to), so the health and safety issue is the only basis the town can proceed on, I believe. My guess is, however, that health and safety issues could be found on these other abandoned properties if the town had a mind to do so. Why we are expending our resources on this property and not others is a question to be answered. The concerns of the neighbors of this property are no different than those of other abandoned properties in town and the town should not pick and choose which it will get involved in. It should be established that this property is a greater threat to the health and safety of the community than other abandoned properties. Otherwise, the town should do the same for all or not take the issue on for any.
Jim G. September 09, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I'm always a bit puzzled when someone complains about the town - or any governmental body - taking action on something, when the complaint is that they aren't taking action on every possible instance of the issue. It's one of a pair of nonsense arguments that, frankly accomplish nothing and lead to the town or other body being less inclined to take any action. (The other argument is "Oh, that's SO important when this other HUGE problem hasn't been fixed yet.") "The town" is a finite entity run by people with finite time, funds and capacity. The idea that 100% of a problem can be tackled all at once (or not at all), or that no effort should be spent on anything but the very most important issues (and I'm sure every one of us agrees on that list) is the self-centered viewpoint of someone who has likely never served in any kind of public capacity. If the house on Barbara is finally torn down this year, is that a good thing or bad, regardless of how many other such abandoned properties might remain to be dealt with - in time and turn?
Long time resident September 09, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I don't believe in spot legislation. By taking this on the town is expending money on behalf of one group of residents and not doing it for others similarly situated. If the town wasn't doing it, the neighbors would have to bring their own nuisance suit against the homeowner of the abandoned property and expend their own funds. My point is and remains: unless it can be established that this property is a greater threat to the health and safety of the community than other abandoned properties in town, the town should expend the same effort on behalf of other neighborhoods or, perhaps the wiser approach, not get involved at all.
Jim G. September 09, 2012 at 04:38 PM
It's not spot legislation. It's activity on an issue that's been brought to the town's attention with resident/voter interest behind it. Really, your argument is contrary to most of what I've seen you post here: So... you WANT the town to be actively nosing around everyone's property looking for blight and structure problems, because the laws about them are on the books and MUST be enforced... or you want the town to respond to resident-raised issues, with the priority going to issues that are actively brought before them? If the neighbors of other blighted properties haven't bothered to make their dissatisfaction known, or organize enough to present the issue to the town for remediation, then I don't see it as the town's task to go find them and shake complaints out of them. I'm nowhere near Barbara but I applaud the town being responsive to resident complaints about the matter... and I am even happier that the town does not have CCR-style standards cops patrolling our neighborhoods.
Long time resident September 09, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Residents of other neighborhoods HAVE brought these issues to the town's attention and the matters HAVE been brought before the council and no such action has been taken and the neighbors have been advised to bring a nusiance action. I am looking for similar matters to be treated the same. So again, unless the health and safety issues in this instance are greater than other cases, the town shouldn't be handling it differently. If you read my first comment carefully you will clearly see than my statement regarding other abandoned properties was based upon residents of other neighborhoods lobbying the involvment of the town. There is no suggestion that the town should actively spend time or resources seeking out these properties.
Jim G. September 09, 2012 at 06:54 PM
There's a difference between "neighbors lobbying" and actually bringing something to the town they can act on. There may also be differences between the other properties and this one. The Barbara property is, from the reports, a total loss, not rebuildable because of the bad foundation. That puts it in a different class from, say, the house down my street that was empty for two years and not well-tended. If a property has recoverable value, it's going to be a an uphill battle for anyone - town, neighbors, state - to force a demolition, and doubly so when the owner is a corporation. It sounds like the Barbara situation is the right combination of elements for something to happen: a house that is both a safety hazard and a blight, neighbors pressing for action, and the town being able to move forward effectively instead of getting mired in criss-crossing legal actions. Maybe I didn't characterize things completely accurately, but I'm still lost as to how you can object to the town taking a useful and necessary action, no matter how many other such properties remain to be dealt with. Some things just have to be managed one piece at a time - this is one piece, not all the town ever plans to do. And maybe this article, this action and these comments have already made someone else with a blighted property in their area get moving on an effective effort to get rid of it.
CarlD September 11, 2012 at 12:01 PM
I asked the City Manager to let me know what offer was made to Deutsche Bank. Presumably the original concrete contractor can be identified and an insurance claim could be made with the contractor's insurance carrier, even if the contractor is out of business.
Dean Soucy September 23, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Just to clear things up, the house is not a total lost and the foundation can be replaced. Many homes in the area have had the same issue and since replaced the foundation, and as far as health and safety if you see the no trespassing signs, that means if your not on the property you would be safe! Think about this , if one person says it can be fixed the town would have a hard time in court explaining why it needed to come down. Tolland has many homes in the area built from 1984 to 1998 so far that I found that have the same decaying concrete so I would spent less time at the town hall and more looking at my walls to see if you can prevent this on your home!
Long time resident September 23, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Thanks for your input. My concerns from the start with this is the fact there are other abandoned homes in town that are of concern to residents in those neighborhoods for obvious reasons. Why this property has been granted the time and resources of the town when residents of other neighborhoods have been told to bring their own lawsuit or just put up with it is my question. Without a health and safety issue that set this property apart form the others, the town should not be doing for one what it won't do for others. These are difficult times and this is a tough subject, but the town has to be consistent with how it services its residents. Since this matter is in litigation initiated by the town before there was knowledgeof the matter by the public, we will never be privy to everything which is also of concern. Incidentally, the people who own the abandoned house were fine members of the community and did a lot of public service here. I wish them the best and hope better times lie ahead for them


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