The Wallingford Town Council agreed Tuesday to pay back the originally non-refundable deposit that a local developer put down toward the purchase of a town-owned American Legion building on North Main Street.
Following nearly an hour of discussion, the council voted 8-1 to refund Joseph Gouveia the deposit toward the $65,000 purchase of the house. The council did not specify how much that deposit was, although a Record-Journal article from 2008 states Gouveia put down $6,500 toward the deal.
Gouveia recently told the council he could not go through with the purchase because the property lacked a proper sewer line and it would be too costly to install one. This was after he reportedly put $13,000 in maintenance into the building.
For this reason, the majority of council members agreed it would be fair to pay Gouveia back the money he put down, despite the fact that it was originally non-refundable. Many of the council members agreed that it was the town’s responsibility to know the property lacked a sewage line and had no running water.
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“It was like this was a mutual mistake,” said Council member Rosemary Rascati. “It was not something that was done intentionally on the part of the town. I think his offer might have been a lot less if he had known that the building had no sewer.”
Attorney Janis M. Small, the town’s corporation council, said if she had known there was an issue with the sewer she would have advised the town not to go to bid on it.
When asked by Council member Nick Economopoulos when the last time the 152 North Main St. property had undergone an appraisal, Small replied she did not know specifically.
“If we bought it at the auction, then it was probably in the 1990s,” Small said.
Small advised the council that it should not go out to bid again yet until it resolves the sewer issue.
“It does not make a whole lot of legal sense or practical sense,” Small said.
A local developer has expressed interest in purchasing the property, although the council did not discuss that issue at all. Instead, it said it would consult with the corporation counsel before making a decision on the sewer problem.
"The sewer line is so vital to the building receiving a certificant of occupancy that it goes to the very heart to the issue of the proposal to create a livable premises," Mayor William Dickinson Jr. said about the issue.