Work to resume at Branchville Road house
After sitting in limbo for months, partially finished, as construction loans were renegotiated, the house at 197 Branchville Road will soon be an active project again, with workers completing construction and readying the house for the market — at least that’s what Raymond Lemley, the attorney for the owners, is saying.
“Activity is about to restart,” attorney Lemley told The Press on Monday, Jan. 13.
“They just refinanced the property, the end of last week, and brought the taxes current. This will allow them to recommence construction pretty much immediately. And they’re looking to get the house completed the next couple of months, and sold.
“You’ll start seeing some activity next week, if not this week,” Lemley said Monday.
Lemley represents the property’s owner, Branchville Development LLC, a corporation created by business partners Alket Dajani and Aleks Rakaj, who purchased the property in July 2017.
Monday’s update from Lemley reflects the situation as described last week by Jason Celestino of the town building department.
“It’s got a permit to construct,” Celestino said Tuesday, Jan. 7. “I did speak with the applicant, who’s a lawyer, and something was going on with the financing for the building. And now the owners are supposed to be getting some new financing and they’re going to be getting back started with this thing.”
Celestino added that he’d heard similar stories before about the partially completed project, which is viewed as an annoyance by some neighbors and a portion of the many townspeople who regularly drive by on busy Branchville Road.
“[The owners] told me this a couple of months ago, and then nothing happened,” Celestino said.
“The people who own the property, they bought it, they had a construction loan and the bank decided they didn’t want to do the construction loan with them anymore, and they were stuck without financing,” Celestino said.
Then, the owners spent some time “hunting around” for financing — which they apparently found last week.
“Once again, I got the story they were going to be closing on another loan, and then get started on it in a week or two — how true that is I don’t know,” Celestino said.
Permits and inspections, not finances
The building department grants permits for construction projects, and inspects to make sure work is done properly and according to code. The department generally doesn’t get involved with problems that developers might have with financing.
“As far as I’m concerned they have a permit for the structure and if they’re not working on it, they’re not working on it,” Celestino said.
The town generally doesn’t go after builders for not pursuing projects in what neighbors or regular passersby might view as a timely manner.
“Their permits are technically good for 180 days if they don’t work on the thing,” Celestino said. “If they went there and never drove one nail in the wood and left it for another 180 days their permit would still be valid.”
Attorney Lemley, however, said Monday the owners are eager to be getting back to work.
“New garage doors are going on this week and we’re going to move ahead with completion of the interior of the property and, once the weather permits, deal with landscaping,” he said. “They want to have the house on the market within the next several months, weather permitting.
“I know they hit a few bumps in the road,” Lemley said, “but I think they’re anxious to get it done, get in on the market, get it sold, and move on.
“Hopefully, you’ll start seeing some progress there.”