Sandy ripple effect: Wave of construction reshapes Fairfield shoreline
Updated 10:33 am, Monday, August 10, 2015
A wave of reconstruction is changing the face of the town’s shoreline neighborhoods.
Before Superstorm Sandy hit Fairfield at the end of October 2012, a few houses in the residential areas off Fairfield Beach Road were slowly being converted from the modest ranches and capes that had populated the streets for decades before the big storm into much larger abodes.
Single-story homes were replaced by structures two and three stories tall, some featuring architectural flourishes that appear inspired by lighthouses and chalets.
The storm inundated those streets — such as Eunice, Carlynn, Rhoda and Penfield — leaving several feet of standing water and millions of dollars in damage in its wake.
Superstorm Sandy — in many cases, out of necessity — super-charged the pace of the neighborhoods’ transformation in favor of super-sized house.
The shoreline neighborhoods were soon filled with storage containers as homeowners looked to save what they could and made decisions whether to rebuild, elevate or sell.
For many who had purchased their small homes at modest prices decades ago, there was no flood insurance and elevating the house to meet new Federal Emergency Management Agency codes would be too costly.
The taller structures also, in the words of First Selectman Michael Tetreau, are not senior friendly, either, with first floors now at the top of a long flight of stairs — sitting on pilings above the required flood-threat level.
Two years later, an informal tour of the streets reveals how much the area has changed. And with the capes and ranches gone, so are lower property assessments and taxes.
For example, in 2005, the ranch house that once stood 33 Edward St. was assessed at $577,780 and at $504,770 in 2010. Now, the new construction with an assessment set at 2010 rates — the last completed revaluation — of $1.2 million.
At neighboring 11 Edward Street, the assessment was $675,000 in 2005, and $739,920 in 2010 before the new construction. The assessment for a new home on the lot is now $1,038,940.
At 137 Fox St., the 2005 assessment was $568,820, then was $429,800 pre-construction in 2010, but the new home is assessed at $879,550.
For 612 Penfield Road, the assessment in 2005 was $516,740 and $533,490 in 2010. After construction of a new dwelling, the assessment is $1,053,360.
New property values for 2015 set in the nearly compete townwide re-assessment program will be mailed to owners in November.