Clock Hill Homes seeks monetary relief from town

DARIEN — After years of structural problems, a housing development in town is looking for financial relief.

At the Board of Selectmen meeting Monday, condo association members and residents from Clock Hill Homes raised concerns about the rising annual lease payments made to the town. The moderate income condo community was built in 1995 for those with limited income, on social security or disability, and 23 out of the 30 current residents are retired and on fixed incomes, according to Clock Hill Homes Association President Beth Watters.

“We’re seeking some relief,” Watters said. “We have minimal care done to our property. Only absolutely necessary things are done.”

Roof replacements, repainting of some units and more will be needed in the near future for the complex, she said.

Structural designs also caused some issues for residents. In Watters’ own unit, she lacked a furnace, causing her hot water heater to fuel both heat in the unit and hot water. Other units ran on a similar system, which causes an increase in residents’ propane bill.

“I had to put in a furnace,” Watters said. “But everybody there can’t afford to do that.”

The association has a 99-year lease with the town of Darien.

Over the past 20 years, the group has spent $50,000 in tree removal, with many being damaged during the complex’s construction. Due to their tight budget, much of the structural work that needed to be done could cause an increase in payments for residents, she said.

“Our residents are really concerned because if we have to do these capital expenditures we’re going to have huge assessments,” Watters said.

First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said the complex is a private development and their power only lies in assistance with the annual lease payment.

“It really is only 20 to 25 years out that you begin to see the results of substandard construction, if you will,” Stevenson said.

Currently, residents each pay $70 per month as part of the collective lease payment. In addition there is a $300 per month common charge for maintenance. Watters said the association proposed to increase the common charge by 2 to 3 percent, but residents didn’t take to the idea.

“People fight it,” she said. “We try to get them to understand that we have to keep this property up.”

One of the solutions Watters proposed was freezing the residents’ contribution at $70.

“The best possible solution of course would be it be forgiven,” she said. “We have no idea as owners how the land lease was set up.”

The Board of Selectmen agreed to take the discussion to the Board of Finance to determine their willingness on lease modifications., 203-842-2568