Five years later, derelict building still in 'urgent' need of repair

The Wilton Planning and Zoning Commission voted on Sept. 9 to force the owner of a building at 11 Danbury Road to complete a full application in order to renovate the currently derelict space.

The owner, Cameron Hashemi, had an “urgent” plan approved to renovate this property in 2008 after an engineer submitted a report that stated the renovation was an urgent matter of safety. Last week, Mr. Hashemi and his architect, Joseph Cugno, asked the commission to reapprove this urgent plan, saying the building could collapse during, perhaps, any heavy snowfall this winter.

By a vote of 5-2, with one abstention, the board rejected this request, requiring Mr. Hashemi to file a full application with the town to renovate his property. Commissioners Marilyn Gould and Lori Bufano dissented.

At the zoning meeting, Commissioners Michael Rudolph and Bas Nabulsi strongly advocated for a move to force Mr. Hashemi to complete the full application.

Though neither “for a moment questioned the legitimacy of the applicant’s claims,” as Mr. Nabulsi said, they were “unimpressed” by the urgency argument five years after it was originally proposed, said Mr. Rudolph.

Bob Nerney, Wilton town planner, explained that Mr. Hashemi was forced to re-request this approval because town regulations stipulate that any renovation approved on the basis of urgency be completed within 18 months of the approval.

Mr. Hashemi has passed this limit by more than 30 months.

Mr. Hashemi was not able to complete the renovations within 18 months, he said, because his business was drastically affected by the economic downturn of that year.

Now, five years later, he has seen business return to normal levels, and is ready to begin renovations. He has already signed a contract with a construction company, he said.

Ms. Gould vehemently disagreed with Mr. Nabulsi and Mr. Rudolph during the meeting. Citing the expense and time involved in submitting a formal application, she felt that because no changes had been made to the 2008 plan, it would be backwards for the commission to force a full application.

She also said the existing structure is an eyesore that the commission should be interested in fixing.

Mr. Hashemi also noted during the Sept. 9 meeting that since that application was approved, the building has “continued to deteriorate” and is “completely unusable.”