Construction work has stopped on the Noroton Heights redevelopment project — and many residents are not happy.

To date, there have been 42 complaints filed with Darien’s Blight Review Board about the site.

“There has never been anywhere near that number since we started the Blight Review Board in 2017,” said Robert Sollitto, Darien’s Blight Prevention Officer.

Commercial site

However, Sollitto said since the construction is taking place on a commercial site, any possible blight issues are not handled by the Blight Review Board. The Board is only involved with residential properties.

To communicate that message, Sollitto is sending an email to everyone who submitted a complaint about the Heights construction explaining that the Blight Review Board only handles residential complaints. He also notes in his email that the complaints “are known to all department heads and they are communicating with the owners in an attempt to alleviate the concerns of the residents of Darien.”

Sollitto’s point is directly addressed in Section 1, paragraph 3 of the Blight Review Ordinance, which can be found on the town website under Blight Review Board.

Sollitto suggested those who would like to further pursue their complaint may contact the town’s Building Department in conjunction with the health inspector.

Project “on pause”

In a recent email to The Darien Times, Jim Palmer, whose family owns Palmer’s Market, confirmed the project is “on a pause for the time being.”

Steve Olvany, chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission, said the work has stopped due to COVID-19.

Olvany added that in some cases, construction lenders can withhold funds of construction money if there is a pandemic or COVID situation.

At this time, there’s no expected date as to when construction will resume.

Olvany said Planning & Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg is in continued contact with the project developer.

The project

The project will consist of remodeling the entirety of the Noroton Heights Shopping Center, as well as the Noroton Heights Train Station.

Olvany added that despite the project being on hold, there’s still movement on the site.

“Construction material movement was proceeding last week,” he said. “They brought in cultex units into the Palmer’s site.”

Cultex units are large concrete structures that hold millions of gallons of water.

“They had tractor-trailers coming in and dropping off them into the parking lot,” Olvany added.

sfox@darientimes.com