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Waterford RTM approves funding to demolish old Cohanzie School

Waterford - The Representative Town Meeting approved the appropriation of $463,100 for the remediation and demolition of Cohanzie School on Monday.

No date for the demolition has been set, but the RTM is the last agency to finalize the funds before the town can begin the process of cleaning up the site and then tearing down the former elementary school building.

RTM members voted 16-1 with member William Auwood opposed.

Once the demolition is completed, the town can market the property but it is possible the first selectman could begin efforts to market the property before it's torn down.

However, a series of steps must be taken before the building is knocked down and because of the school's historic designation, the town's delay of demolition ordinance could save it from the wrecking ball if a developer steps forward in time.

A special demolition permit must first be issued because the school is listed on the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places.

According to the town's delay of demolition ordinance, the applicant, within seven days of the town's receipt of the application for the demolition permit, must notify owners of all property within 150 feet of the school by certified mail.

A legal notice of the application for the demolition of the building must be published in a newspaper with substantial circulation in the municipality, and must be published on a Saturday within 14 days after receiving the application for the demolition permit.

Prior to the issuance of the permit, a sign announcing the application for a permit to demolish the building must be placed on the school property and remain there for at least 30 days before the permit is issued.

If written objection to the issuance of the permit is filed with the town's building department and is mailed by first class mail to the applicant within 30 days following the town's receipt of the application, the town will delay issuing the demolition permit for 60 days, provided, according to the application, that the objecting party presents another alternative.

If no objection to the demolition of the school is filed with the town within 30 days after the application is received, the town may issue the permit.

Auwood called Cohanzie a "good piece of property."

"I think Cohanize is in better condition than Southwest was when we had children in that school, and I think we're making another mistake by knocking down a viable building, at least the newer portion," he told members before the vote.

"It was good enough for the kids until we came along with the new ones (schools) and would still be there if the referendum went the other way."


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