Canton Legislators Get Involved In Resolving Cadle Property Issues [Courant]

November 12, 2015

Article as it appeared in the Hartford Courant

CANTON — Two legislators representing the town have asked for updated information about cleanup options for the Cadle property, a site mired in litigation and other issues associated with hazardous waste dumped there decades ago.

Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, said he and Rep. Timothy LeGeyt, R-Canton, met with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recently about 51 Albany Turnpike. The site is occupied by Mitchell Volkswagen, but there are many problems there. Witkos said the dealership’s owner asked him and LeGeyt for help resolving those issues.

Witkos and LeGeyt have asked DEEP for information about the cleanup the agency wants conducted at the site. They also asked the town for a property appraisal.
“Everyone wants to get this property back on the tax rolls,” Witkos said about his efforts to help Mitchell take ownership of the property. Cadle Properties of Ohio owns the site and has been held responsible for cleaning it up and paying $758,852 in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties.

Efforts to collect the back taxes are caught up in litigation over an arrangement the town put in place to charge Mitchell rent and use the rent to pay the back taxes. Mitchell has fought that arrangement.

Jay Weintraub, an attorney for Mitchell, said his client would like to buy the property but can’t do that without it being cleaned up first.

“The property is not worth what it would cost to clean it up and a remediation would require public funds, but we want to see if there is anything we can do to move this along,” Weintraub said. “There are some possibilities for Mitchell to buy the property but it would not happen soon and we would need help from the town and the state.”

Witkos and LeGeyt asked the town to appraise the property so the parties have updated information on its value.

But Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner said the town’s attorney had advised not to do the appraisal, in part because of the litigation. Witkos said the town’s decision is a setback to his efforts.

Witkos said he has not received information on cleanup from the DEEP.

“We have had some initial discussions with town officials and the legislative delegation about this property and the potential cost of cleanup,” DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said. “We will continue talking with them to see how we can be of assistance. Ultimately, the vision for the proposed uses of this property will drive cleanup costs because different uses require cleanup to different remediation standards.”

The property was once the home of Swift Chemical Co., which has been out of business for many years but dumped industrial solvents there before closing. Ohio-based Cadle Properties bought the property in 1994. Cadle leased the land to Mitchell in 1995 and Mitchell has operated the car dealership since then. In 2000, a state court ordered Cadle to pay $2 million for cleanup, which it has not done.

Town officials say Cadle has abandoned the property and not paid taxes in years. It has also not charged Mitchell any rent for many years. Weintraub said Mitchell has not had contact with Cadle in about 15 years. Mitch Brazin, a property manager for Cadle, declined to comment Tuesday.