BEACON FALLS — The town and a developer have resolved an ongoing dispute over engineering inspection fees.
The Board of Selectmen voted on Monday to accept $24,000 from AM Alexandria LLC, a hedge fund real estate investment company based in Bethesda, Md., to settle debts incurred by the company’s predecessor.
AM Alexandria, along with Beacon Falls-based EG Home LLC, currently own Chatfield Farms, the 140-acre housing development for people 55 years old and older off of Skokorat Street.
When Wyndham Homes of Brewster, N.Y., which had been developing Chatfield Farms, declared bankruptcy in 2010 it left behind parcels of undeveloped land and a $36,000 debt from engineering inspection fees.
After sitting undeveloped and facing blight fines from the town, Chatfield Farms was purchased in September 2013 by AM Alexandria.
According to a letter from attorney Steven Byrne, the Planning and Zoning Commission informed AM Alexandria that since the firm bought the development it is entitled to both the benefit and the obligations associated with zoning approval. One of the obligations included the repayment of Wyndham Homes’ debt.
AM Alexandria argued it did not have to pay since it was never told of the debt prior to taking ownership of the property, Byrne said in the letter.
First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the issue had been in dispute for the past eight months.
“The big process in this was getting them to admit they owed anything at all. We have insisted from the beginning that $36,000 was the right number. Their initial number was zero. Their next number was $5,000 and their next number was $19,000. They’ve incrementally snuck it up to where it’s $24,000, which is basically two-thirds of what the original was,” Bielik said.
Short of the town taking legal action against AM Alexandria, the full amount of the debt would not be paid, Byrne explained in the letter.
Even if the town were to take legal action the results would not be guaranteed and the legal costs would be approximately one-third of the amount collected, he wrote.
The Planning and Zoning Commission had already signed off on the deal and Bielik urged the Board of Selectmen to do the same.
“I’m inclined to agree with our attorney Mr. Byrne that two-thirds of a loaf is better than no loaf at all,” Bielik said.
Town Treasurer Michael Krenesky asked if accepting a lower amount meant the town had to cover the extra $12,000.
Bielik said the invoices were issued by Nafis & Young Engineers, which did the inspections on behalf of the town. Officials are looking into whether the firm is owed the money or the town paid the bill.
Either way, Bielik said, the $24,000 is the best deal the town was going to receive.