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    Monday, March 04, 2024

    Attorney general seeking to further delay demolition of historic Waterford home

    Waterford ― The state attorney general’s office, which is reviewing a plan to demolish the historic Nichols Farmhouse/William H. Putnam House, has asked the property’s owners if they would accept an additional 30-day moratorium on demolition to allow the office more time to determine whether there is a reasonable alternative.

    The owners, Robert Marelli Jr., founder and president of Waterford-based sheet metal fabricators Seconn Fabrication, and his wife, Susan Marelli, filed for a demolition permit from the town’s building department on Sept. 28.

    They want to build a new home on the site.

    The Marellis purchased the 3.7-acre property at 80 Shore Road in June for $1,275,000. The original Greek revival structure, which has had several additions over the years, was listed as a contributing structure to the Hartford Colony Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

    Due to a town ordinance on demolition of historic structures, which are defined as any building over 50 years old, the couple had to wait 30 days and advertise their intentions to receive the permit.

    But during that 30-day period, a neighbor filed a letter objecting to the demolition, extending the delay to 60 days, or Nov. 26. With less than a week until that deadline expires, the attorney general’s office is seeking to delay it further.

    “We have proposed an extended moratorium,and are hopeful that it will be agreed to, but that remains a proposal,“ Elizabeth Benton, chief of communications and policy for the attorney general’s office, said Monday.

    The additional moratorium would expire on Dec. 26.

    The attorney general’s office is handling the matter after the state Historic Preservation Council voted to forward it to the office. During a meeting earlier this month, the council heard testimony from supporters of the demolition, including the Marellis’ lawyers and architect, and opponents, including multiple neighbors and a representative of the nonprofit preservation group Preservation CT.

    The council members’ unanimous vote signified they believe a reasonable alternative to demolition exists. Now the same question is before Attorney General William Tong, according to Todd Levine, the State Historic Preservation Office’s liaison.

    Domitilla Enders, the Marellis’ neighbor and an outspoken critic of the demolition, said she believes that if the owners do not accept an alternative, the attorney general’s office will likely file an injunction against them.

    During the State Historic Preservation Council meeting, architect Nina Cuccio-Peck, who designed a new home for the Marellis, said that due to new energy efficiency laws, the old home would be nearly impossible to rehabilitate.

    Levine said Monday the family will allow a historic architect and engineer from Preservation CT to access the site and assess the condition of the building on Nov. 30.

    Robert Marelli could not be reached to comment.

    d.drainville@theday.com

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