North Stonington looking to sell historic church, schoolhouse buildings

North Stonington looking to sell historic church, schoolhouse buildings



NORTH STONINGTON — The site of the former Unity Baptist Church and a one-room schoolhouse both dating to the 1800s that North Stonington acquired at a town meeting in the spring could soon be sold.

Both are among several small parcels that the town is seeking to dispose of through sales. The Board of Selectmen recently had a workshop on the properties and other town-owned lots and also discussed options at the board’s Aug. 28 meeting.

Now the issue goes to the Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration. Should the commission decide to move forward, the next step would be a town meeting in either October or November, First Selectman Mike Urgo said.

The lots at 119 and 123A Clarks Falls Road belonged to the North Stonington Baptist Church and contain two historic buildings, including a one-room schoolhouse dating to 1860 and an 1888 chapel.

“They’re not in terrible shape, but they’re not going to get any better,” Urgo said. “I would consider trying to sell those.”

Voters agreed in May at a town meeting to take the defunct properties off the church’s hands and find a way to dispose of them. They were not used, nor were they generating any tax revenue for the town. The church had tried for seven years to find new owners for the land and buildings.

The lots aren't adjacent to one another and don't have septic systems, making their use or improvement a daunting task.

Furthermore, the local historical organizations haven’t shown interest, according to Urgo. Residents at the selectmen’s meeting urged the town to sell.

“I think the schoolhouse has some value. The church is more of a tough sell because there’s no chance of anything there,” Urgo said.

The town took the lots because deed restrictions prevented the North Stonington Baptist Church from selling them for any use other than as a place of worship. But a clause in the deed allowed the town to sell the lots to anyone once it took ownership of them.

“I’d just as soon move on them, because time is just going to go by,” Urgo said. “We don’t want it to be something where we’re stuck having to maintain something that’s going to cost us money.”

The town is in the process of obtaining the Clarks Falls Road parcels and should own them by the time of the fall town meeting, Urgo said.

rblessing@thewesterlysun.com


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