Daily Archives: October 25, 2010

The Greenwich Association of Realtors bestirs itself

Message from my organization’s head, Mr. Doug Stevens:

Dear Colleagues,

No doubt you’ve heard much about the recent zoning changes proposed by P&Z regarding residential FAR, lot coverage, drainage and other items. The GAR Board of Directors believe that the far reaching impact of these changes may negatively effect [sic - I suggest "affect" - Ed] a broad section of properties; their value use and potential. As such, the Board unanimously agreed to take a position encouraging P&Z to delay voting on these measures until there is greater (and clearer) public understanding of these potential measures.

If you’re like me, you’ve supported the good intentions of P&Z over the past fifteen or so years; to limit inappropriate construction and preserve the attractive streetscapes of our town. But you’ve also probably scratched your head trying to understand all of the nuances of FAR or simply question why some of its restrictions (finished attics?) even matter. We’ve privately discussed our objections to many FAR components but have ultimately put our relicenses as Greenwich homeowners and REALTORS® in the hands of others. [Editor's note: if you understand this last sentence you're a better man than I, Gunga Din] [UPDATE: A reader suggests that the word Doug Stevens, President of the GAR, was searching for was "reliance", not "relicenses". I think the reader is right or at least, I hope he is.]

Attached please find a full page “position”  ad that GAR ran in Sunday’s (October 24th) and today’s (Monday, October 25th) Greenwich Time. Also attached are PDF’s with information specific to the proposals. If you haven’t made yourself familiar with them, you’ll probably be surprised. There’s also a very good chance that they may have a negative impact on your property.

I hope that you (and your family, friends and clients) will attend Tuesday night’s meeting. I believe that we should (and will) make a difference in this process.

In fact, the P&Z has dropped the discussion of this matter from tomorrow’s agenda, so I wouldn’t bother attending – I myself will be in the building, but attending a Clam Warden meeting – priorities, always.

Apparently my group had a huge ad in yesterday’s Greenwich Time addressing this issue. I don’t buy the paper so didn’t see the ad, but it certainly ruffled the feathers of the P&Z folks. Ruffled feathers usually lead to negative results, but what are you going do?

UPDATE: Here’s the ad. I don’t see what’s objectionable about it. In fact, it’s pretty tame.

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There probably should be a law against criminal stupidity

Pennsylvania man calls 911 when he purchased “nasty” pot that turned out to be fake.

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Traveling? You might want to avoid Chicago this week

National Weather Service says worst storm in 70 years due to slam into the Windy City  tomorrow morning and stick around through Thursday. O’Hare’s a big airline hub and as my California-based girls have found to our mutual sorrow, when that airport shuts down, airline flights around the nation get all fouled up. Me, I’m staying put.

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Best news I’ve heard in years

New York Times

Conservators facing difficulty preserving modern art. By cousin Henry Fountain who I’m sure would disagree (Henry’s like that), but I hope they fail and we can all just forget about this unfortunate period of our culture.

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I was taught that, when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging

 

  • “We found ourselves in a hole that I didn’t dig, but I have dug, dug and dug to try to get out of that hole.”–Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.), Oct. 22

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Milbank Avenue sells

309 Milbank Avenue

309 Milbank, listed originally for $3.295 back in 2008 (and assessed for $894,000) has sold for $1.337. At that price, maybe the buyer can afford to renovate this great old house.

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Partridge Hollow

I recently (October 22) wrote about 48 Partridge  Hollow Road taking a price shave from something like $9.5 to the high $7’s.

44 Partridge Hollow

Now his neighbor, with the entirely appropriate name of “Biff”, has dropped his own house from $5.950 to $4.950 million. Assessment is $4.990, so that seems close. Looks like a great house.

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Alma Rutgers on the Greenwich RTM budget resolution

I probably don’t agree with any of her positions, but this old war horse (in the nicest sense) of the Democrat Party raises some good points. My objection to her column is that pretty much the same arguments were raised back in the early 80s, when we first tried to rein in spending. We were defeated, and we’re in the sorry mess we are in now. I never met a Demmerkrat who couldn’t find a good reason to spend more, rather than less. But that said, Ms. Rutgers is an articulate, intelligent woman and her arguments are valid – just depends on whether you agree with her goals. Good column.

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Afterwards, perhaps they’ll head off for a ladies charity event at Lake Titicaca

The Junior League kicks off the debutant season. At Conyers farm, surprisingly.

I know, this will just set off another round of angry postings, but really – how can you resist?

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NPR CEO “regrets” her handling of firing of Juan Williams

As well she should. There was an excellent discussion this morning on NPR’s own “On Point’, one of the decent shows that keeps me listening. The NPR Ombudsman was clueless, naturally, but the other panelists were not and the moderator was great. But big point: the firing came during the middle of many local affiliates’ fundraising drive, and the poor volunteers manning the phones were taking heaps of abuse. NPR national has poo pooed callers claims that they were actually donors to begin with but I know that I was one who has now vowed never again to support them and I notice that the local Connecticut station, WNPR, has had to extend its own fund drive after failing to reach its goal. So maybe I wasn’t the only caller who represented permanently lost revenue. Good.

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“The Gun” by C. J. Chivers

A good history of the AK-47 and its machine gun predecessors (Gatling, Maxim, etc.) and the appalling history of how the grossly deficient M-16 was raced through development and issued to our troops in Viet Nam, with fatal results. I will confess that the book’s  technical discussions tended to produce MEGO moments for this non gun-expert but a little judicious skimming of its 450 pages yielded a good read. I have a friend, former neighbor and current reader who might like this even more. Happy to pass it along, Geoff.

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Tracking Old Greenwich prices

26 Shore Acre

This house on Shore Acre sold at full asking price, $1.865, in 2004, when its assessment was $895,000. It was “renovated” (a flexible term in real estate) and returned to the market at the beginning of this year asking $2.495. It now has a new broker and its price has dropped to $1.995. Assessment is now $1.503.

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Here was a good deal

42 Richmond Hill

5.2 acres of beautiful land, originally priced in 2007 at $4.250. Assessed at $1.878, sold last week for $1.3 million. Not bad.

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New Yorkers have nice things to say about this place

Fairway coming to Stamford, but on Canal Street. 80,000 sq. ft. sounds interesting, but Canal Street is, for this shopper, a special destination, not a regular stop. Any opinions out there?

UPDATE: lots of good comments on the place, including one from that most esteemed gourmand, Anthony Fountain. So yeah, I’m certainly looking forward to checking it out. But I shop, as a rule, for two people and tend to pick up a meal or two at a time, so driving five miles is not likely to be a regular event. Nothing against Stamford, it’s the convenience.

But as one reader points out, this might well be the death knell for Shop and Stop, which opened across the street from and six months later than ShopRite. My mother likes the place but the few times I’ve gone there, its parking lot has been almost deserted while ShopRite’s is full.

And what will become of Old Greenwich’s FoodMart? Nice people there, but selection is extremely limited, due to the size of its building and I use it mainly for a quick pick-up, not a source of general staples. I’ve noticed that, since ShopRite opened, many customers leaving the store are, like me, carrying a couple of plastic bags rather than pushing a full grocery cart, which suggests to me that I’m not the only one using it for the occasional, last-minute pick up. That’s not a good business plan.

It would a terrible thing if Old Greenwich lost its only grocery store, but FoodMart’s been fighting for survival for twenty years or so. It closed down its Greenwich store, then retreated from Cos Cob (refusing, it’s rumored, to lease its building to Trader Joe’s, preferring a non-competing CVS)  and fought successfully to keep the A&P from expanding into a modern supermarket back in the 90s. But it’s been a losing battle – while they fighting the A&P, ShopRite was already on the drawing boards. And now, here comes Fairway. So it goes.

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Banks prefer foreclosures to short sales

Even though foreclosures often net them less.

But less obvious financial incentives can push toward a foreclosure rather than a short sale. Servicers can reap high fees from foreclosures. And lenders can try to collect on private mortgage insurance.

Some advocates and real estate agents also point to an April 2009 regulatory change in an obscure federal accounting law. The change, in effect, allowed banks to foreclose on a home without having to write down a loss until that home was sold. By contrast, if a bank agrees to a short sale, it must mark the loss immediately.

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