Norwich apartment building residents lose housing when water line bursts

Norwich - City building and fire inspectors condemned an apartment building at 94-100 Main St. Wednesday after a 4-inch diameter water line for the sprinkler system burst, flooding the basement and the building's electrical panels, city officials said.

Three of the six units in the building were occupied, and seven people were displaced. Two female tenants are pregnant and one couple has a newborn baby, said Lee Ann Gomes, city Assistant Human Services director. The city paid to house the tenants at the Comfort Suites on Otrobando Avenue Wednesday night.

The tenants also qualify for relocation assistance to new apartments, Gomes said. The city will place a lien on the property to cover those costs. Gomes said one couple has a dog that is being temporarily kenneled at the Norwich dog pound.

The building is owned by 100 Main Street LLC, which lists Steven Eckhouse of South Windsor as the company manager. Norwich businessman Zane Megos is the property manager and has been the main contact person with city officials on the property.

In unrelated cases, Megos faces several criminal charges for taking deposits for apartments and homes that never became available. Megos is due to appear in New London Superior Court Wednesday on those charges.

Fire Marshal Jake Manke said the fire department was alerted to the sprinkler pipe break by a civilian who called police dispatch. Fire crews returning to the station from another call also saw water pouring into the street and responded, Manke said.

The fire department also notified Norwich Public Utilities to shut off the water, and the utility crew called city building inspectors.

Greg Arpin, assistant building official, said the entire building was ordered closed because the electrical system was flooded and the sprinkler system is inoperable. Numerous repairs will be needed before the building can be reopened, Arpin said.

City inspectors also will require certification by a licensed electrician that the electrical system is safe and a complete test of the sprinkler system.

Arpin said inspectors found other building code violations, including an exterior stairway without a handrail and exposed wiring at the building that would have to be addressed before the building is allowed to reopen.

A letter sent Thursday to the owner outlined six conditions for reopening the three-story building.

"A walkthrough inspection shall be conducted by the fire marshal, building official, housing officer and health department," the letter concluded. "Any and all violations cited shall be corrected to the satisfaction of the appropriate department."

c.bessette@theday.com

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