Developer Drops Historic Clinton Home Demolition Plans Ahead of State Suit
151 East Main Street, Clinton (Photo courtesy of the Town of Clinton)
The developer of the condos to be built at 151-153 East Main Street has agreed to preserve the historic house on the property, thus avoiding a lawsuit from the State’s Attorney General’s office. The move is being greeted as a victory by community activists who hoped to save the house.
In March, the Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) had approved an application to build condos across from the Clinton Police Department at 151-153 East Main Street. The application from Resync Property Solutions seeks to build 32 apartments with septic systems on two adjacent parcels.
There was one complicating factor about the application: the presence of a historic house on the property that was set to be demolished. The house, known to some as “the 1800s house or “the Dowd house,” inspired a vocal outcry from people who wanted to keep the house on the property to preserve the historic character of the town.
As one of the conditions of approval, the PZC voted to stipulate that the house couldn’t be demolished until either the state Attorney General’s Office weighs in on the feasibility of keeping the house, or 90 days passed from the approval of the application with no further comment from the state.
Todd Levine, a member of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) who had been working with the developer to try to come to a compromise over the keeping the house, told the Harbor News on May 4 that the developer had indeed agreed to spare the house from demolition.
Levine said at press time there was still some loose ends to tie up. Resync still needs to email the Clinton land use office to announce its decision and the demolition signs around the property need to be taken down. Levine said he expects both steps to be done shortly.
Earlier in the week, it did not look like there would be such smooth sailing for SHPO and people interested in protecting the house.
Levine had told the Harbor News on May 3 that the that a compromise could not be reached so the parties would be going to court. Levine said the state had been planning on filing an injunction during the week of May 10.
While SHPO was interested in protecting the house due to its historic nature and the character it lends to the town, the developer had some reservations. At earlier PZC meetings, an attorney for Resync had said there were concerns about how much historic architecture was still present on the house, the integrity of the inside of the house, and the cost of renovating the property.
“The cost is the same as building a new building; we thought [preservation] would make an easy solution,” Levine said, adding that avoiding the cost of a lawsuit was an interest for both sides.
The interest in protecting the old house was generated in large part by a petition started by Peggy Adler that implored the PZC to require the house remain on the property as part of a condition of approval. Some members of the public were upset at the petition, arguing that it could scare away future developers from coming to Clinton, and it wasn’t fair to tell an owner what they can or can’t do with their property.
Adler repeatedly has pointed out the petition was not opposed to the proposed development, just the demolition of the old house. Adler’s petition garnered serious support from some members of the community.
Reached for comment after learning the developer agreed to keep the house Adler said in a statement, “I want to thank all of you who signed the online petition, which last I looked had 805 signatories, as well as those of you who testified, along with me, via Zoom, at the hearing in Hartford and before Clinton’s P&Z. WE WON!”