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    Saturday, September 30, 2023

    Auction of Norwich home ends its use as an illegal events venue

    Bidders, neighbors and curious onlookers gather for the noon mortgage foreclosure auction Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023 at the Mount Crescent House, 270 Broadway, Norwich. The house has been used as an illegal large events venue for several years, eliciting complaints from neighbors and court action by the city. Claire Bessette/The Day
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    Norwich ― A Norwichtown couple offered the only bid other than the mortgage holder at a noon auction Saturday for the Mount Crescent House mansion at 270 Broadway, which has been used as an illegal large events venue for the past several years in defiance of city zoning and court orders.

    More than a dozen family members, neighbors and onlookers cheered as Annabelle Reboli-Johnson and her husband, Tord Johnson of Norwich bid $456,000 for the house, nearly $1,000 more than the bid submitted by mortgage holder, 270 Broadway CT LLC of $455,055.40 to cover the mortgage debt, foreclosure and court fees.

    Reboli-Johnson said she plans to restore the seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom house as a single-family home and plans to make what structural repairs are needed, including to the roof and exterior. Future neighbors greeted her and welcomed that plan, after they had spent many warm-weather weekends filing noise and traffic complaints about the events venue with police.

    The proposed purchase must be approved by a judge in New London Superior Court. Court-appointed committee of sale, attorney Gina Knauer, announced at the start that the house would be sold as-is, and the buyer would be responsible for any eviction if necessary.

    The Mount Crescent House is owned by Mount Crescent LLC, a firm headed by Huey Min Lee, who has been renting this and two other properties she had owned in Norwich as large-event venues and short-term rentals in violation of zoning regulations. She lost two other properties at 380 Washington St. and 138 Mediterranean Lane to mortgage foreclosures earlier this year.

    As neighbors did during the Mediterranean Lane auction, next-door neighbor Bryan Parent brought non-alcoholic champagne and glasses to the auction to celebrate the pending sale of the home.

    “Whenever there’s a party, there’s parties, the entire house shakes,” his 10-year-old son, Axton Parent said.

    Bryan Parent said he continued to file complaints with police, even after he said Min Lee placed notes in neighbors’ mailboxes saying, “Sorry for the noise, but if you call police, we will make sure your taxes are audited.”

    Min Lee purchased the house in 2014 and initially had received approval from the city planning commission for a bed and breakfast at the Mount Crescent House. But she failed to make required fire safety improvements, including sprinklers or closing off the third floor. She argued that the changes would ruin the character of the 1870 house. Norwich bed and breakfast regulations also require the owned to live in the house, while Min Lee has rented the entire house to guests.

    The city appealed Lee’s refusal to comply with the terms of her approval to Superior Court, winning a judgment in 2022. Police then filed a criminal charge against her that year for failure to comply with fire safety codes. But Lee continued to rent the house for events and short-term rentals.

    Mortgage company Noah Bank filed mortgage foreclosure action in New London Superior Court, and in September 2022, the bank assigned the mortgage to 270 Broadway LLC of New Hyde Park, N.Y., which continued the foreclosure. The judge ordered the auction after the property was valued at $685,000, well above the mortgage debt.


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