Daily Archives: May 3, 2011

Demmerkrats pass biggest tax increase in Connecticut’s history

That’s how the Hartford Courant describes it, but I wonder if the Democrat’s imposition of an income tax in 1991 wasn’t even larger. Either way, it’s refreshingly reassuring to see that, once returned to power, the Democrats revert to form. At least we can count on one sure thing in this ever-changing world.

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Who, and what is this Navy SEAL 6 team that nabbed Osama?

The National Journal tells – well, not all, but a little bit. Fascinating article about these secret warriors’ training and operations.

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Remember “Sleeper”?

Woody Allen ends up in the future, where a doctor informs him that they’d discovered that cigarettes and (fat? Something else) were actually good for you.

Apparently the future is here. Salt does not cause high blood pressure and people who consume a lot of it have less risk of a heart attack than those on a low salt diet.

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Where in the world is …

Franklin Bloomer?

Franklin Bloomer? The District 5 RTM member and head of the RTM Land Use Committee has sold his house in Riverside and moved, somewhere – no one seems to know where. Greenwich? Stamford? Montana? Regardless, I’m told he’s still showing up at RTM functions. Has anyone asked him for (a long form)  proof of residency? Can one continue to represent Riverside in the RTM is he is no longer a resident?

 
Perhaps RTM rules permit a member to finish out his term even if he moves from his district. Perhaps they don’t – I haven’t looked it up. But I do think it would be appropriate for someone in that organization to ask the man where he hangs his hat these days. And, if as the result of that inquiry, he were forced to resign from the Land Use Committee well, that’s just a small tragedy we’ll all have to suffer through. Maybe we could persuade Jerry Poricelli to replace him.

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Speaking of FAR destroying value …

409 Round Hill Rd

This wonderful 1849 house in the back country has been for sale for years, starting at $2.5 million in 2009 and dropping today to $1.695. The market for antique homes is limited, but very much not non-existent, so why won’t it sell? My guess is that it’s because you can’t add on to its 3,000 sq. feet – FAR won’t allow  it, because it sits on 1.5 acres in the 4 acre zone.

 
Back when the RTM established FAR limitations, they assigned Franklin Bloomer and some of his pals to come up with the ideal size house for each of our zoning areas. Which they did, while also devising a penalty for undersized lots and a bonus for oversized. The ideal size house in the one acre zone, Bloomer et als decreed, was exactly 5,880 square feet. Were this house in that zone, under Bloomer’s rules, it could be expanded to 8,8020 sq. feet because it’s 50% larger than an acre.
 
But it’s in the four-acre zone, and four acre FAR limits apply, no exceptions. So instead of 8,800, or even 5,880, it’s deemed too large at under 3,000 sq. feet. Does this make sense? If almost 9,000 sq. ft. meets the RTM’s approval for a 1 1/2 acre lot in the R-1 zone, why isn’t that appropriate in the R-4 zone? Same size lot, so there’s no issue about being too large for the acreage in question, it’s really all about a terribly flawed system, imposed on homeowners by the RTM which, I suspect, is pretty much clueless about what it’s done.
Want another example? Take conservation zones. A couple of decades ago, the RTM decided to encourage these by rewarding builders who built houses  on two acres each in the four-acre zone and pooling the remaining excess into a open land conservation zone. When FAR came along, you might think that it would take into consideration these two acre lots – you’d be wrong. FAR crushes conservation home houses and Bloomer and friends make no apology.
 
I can’t say with certainty what 409 Round Hill would be worth if a buyer could add on to it, but I’m confident it would be a hell of a lot more that the present asking price. The owner has been screwed, all without any benefit to the town. Are we addressing this issue? Are you kidding? The P&Z is doing its damnedest to make it worse.

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Sales

After 1033 days on the market, this Round Hill property as finally sold, for $7 million. That’s a hefty sum, but a substantial discount from its 2005 price of $10.9, and even further off the 2008 price of $11.5. I’ve never understood the strategy of raising a price when a house won’t sell, but it’s done all the time, almost always without success.

35 Mianus View Terrace

This renovated 1896 beauty in Cos Cob, on the contrary, asked $1.135 in February and found a buyer in 63 days, selling today for $1.125. Obviously we’re in different price categories here, and apples aren’t oranges, but I’d rather have my house on the market for two months than years and years.

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They would have been a lot cheaper than the CIA

A UCLA geography class predicted in 2009 that there was an 89% chance that Osama was hiding in Abbotabod. At the very least, maybe someone at the CIA should sign up for this class.

UPDATE: never mind! Between posting this and reader Jimbo coming across it, the original article was corrected – it now no longer mentions Abbotabad, and merely claims an accuracy of 300 KM from Tora Bora. Not nearly as impressive, obviously. The CIA can stay in Virginia.

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How bad is the real estate business?

  This bad: agents are stripping houses of their copper piping.

Do not use Combo Lockboxes on GFC CMLS listings
The GFC CMLS does not support combo lockboxes, nor do we recommend using a combo lockbox on your listings.  It has come to our attention that people are using combo lockboxes to access vacant homes and steal the copper piping.  The GFC CMLS only supports electronic lockboxes because they maintain an audit trail of who has accessed the lockbox.  Combo lockboxes do not have this security feature.

You will be relieved to learn that here in Greenwich we use electronic keyboxes. Not that we don’t trust our agents, of course but ….

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Hmm, here’s a tough one

20 Gilliam Lane

I grew up next door to this house so I naturally have fond memories of both it and its neighborhood, but even with today’s price cut to $2.295, there’s tough sledding ahead. For one, it’s already nonconforming at 2,938 sq. ft (0.22 acres in what is now an R-20 zone), so what you see is what you get. For another, the seller is going to be in the unenviable position of negotiating with two separate lenders before she can provide clear title, and that usually takes awhile.

I like the house and, in the 60’s, the Sinclairs managed to raise three kids here, but this isn’t the 60s any longer. Nice home for a couple, at the right price.

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Price it, sell it

48 Shore Rd

This a gorgeous old (1913) Old Greenwich home, with direct waterfront (no mention of a dock, though, and I can’t remember whether or not it has one). .77 acres, which ain’t bad, and renovated in 1998. Mind you, I’m always suspicious when a listing can’t find room for an exterior shot out of the ten available slots allocated by our MLS, but as I recall, it wasn’t bad looking at all.

 
So why hasn’t it sold since 2008? Price, I’d guess. It started off at $7.4 back in March of that year and obviously, that wasn’t the right price. Four price reductions later it is today down to $5.3 which is better, but now buyers will start with the question they always ask in such situations: “if it’s any good, how come no one’s bought it before now?” I can, and have, talked myself blue in the face answering that exact question, explaining that the price was too high, blah blah blah, but three years on the market creates an awful stigma. Too bad, because this really is a nice house.

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Deutsche Bank, we hardly knew ye

Justice Department sues DB for a zillion dollars, alleging fraud. Basically, DB was authorized to investigate and “endorse” mortgages, thus qualifying the paper for a government guarantee. Turns out, DB did no such investigation, endorsed a slew of mortgages that went belly up within two years and, Wall Street being Wall Street, shorted the mortgage market by the same $5 billion they were endorsing. Can’t we please, finally, put someone in jail over this mess? I’d prefer Chris Dodd, but would settle for a Deutsche Bank executive.

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Market warming up?

151 Old Church Rd

Back in 2004, the then owners of this 4 acre property listed it for $7.898 million  an sold it nine months later, in June, 2005, for $5.8. It was relisted by the buyers in May, 2010 for $5.995, not an unreasonable price, and went nowhere so it was pulled from the market last Thanksgiving.

On April 15th it came back on at $5.945 and had an accepted offer within 11 days. So, while we may still be back at 2005 prices, at least some big ticket houses are moving.

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Just to keep you Obama fans happy

Obama’s finest hour. In the Wall Street Journal, of all places.

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A question I, thank goodness, have never asked

How long can you survive on beer alone?

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This seems unsporting

 As I speculated yesterday, the government is not inclined to pay Khalid Sheikh Muhammad any of the $27 million reward for coughing up (literally, one presumes) the name of Osama’s courier, information that ultimately that led to the latter’s demise. Okay, he only talked after a few rounds of waterboarding (you won’t be surprised to learn that my favorite T-shirt in my collection says, “I’d rather be waterboarding” ) but still, talk he did. And think of all the nice things he could buy with that money at the Gitmo commissary. Hardly seems fair.

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Unusual, but understandable

Greenwich gas station owner celebrates Osama’s killing by giving away free coffee. The owner is Pakistani and as he points out, his country has suffered terribly from terrorist attacks. I do get the sense that much of the muslim world is not going to miss this man.

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I guess he’ll now be able to afford a new Zamboni up there on Crown Lane

Stevie Cohen is peddling off some of his unwanted art works – estimated auction price: $55 million.

In other news, a juror on the Rajamataz trial is sick, so no deliberations today. Another day for Raj to relax up on Round Hill.

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Thank God they don’t bother to vote

The youth of America ask, “who is Osama bin Laden?”

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The dog that didn’t bark

It’s been decades since I read Sherlock Holmes, but as I recall, one of Doyle’s most famous stories was “The dog that didn’t bark”, which turned on the fact that a watchdog remained silent when an intruder entered the premises. Holmes reasoned that the dog kept quiet because he knew and recognized the “intruder”, and hence the intruder was actually the homeowner himself.

Or something like that. Anyway, I was reminded of that story yesterday when we learned that, despite being right next door to Pakistan’s West Point and being three times larger than any other house in the neighborhood, with a 12′ wall topped by barbed wire, armed guards at the gate, etc., Pakistan’s army and ISI claim to never have had their suspicions or curiosity aroused and never investigated who might be living there. Uh huh.

I suppose we must continue supporting the present government because the alternative for this nuclear power is so much worse, but sheesh.

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