The former Joseph A. Conte Jewelers building next to Memorial Town Hall on Whitney Avenue has sat vacant since the business moved down the road years ago.
The town bought the building in 2008 for $296,200, but now it wants to sell it and its next door neighbor, Eli's on Whitney, wants to buy it.
The Legislative Council has approved a bid waiver to sell it to Eli's, Asst. Town Planner Dan Kops told the Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday, and it asked the commission for an 8-24 referral to approve both the demolition of the building and the sale of the property.
But commission members voted to send back a negative referral on both counts, questioning the wisdom of parting with the property. Instead, they want more information on whether it would be wiser to hold on to what could be a valuable property to the town.
Just this week at the Legislative Council's meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Curt Leng commented on how town office space is at a premium, zoning commission member Michelle Mastropetre said.
"Curt made a comment that the town is tight for space," she said, "and this is right next door to the police department and the fire department and the town hall -- I could urge caution with the demolition issue."
Commissioner Robert Roscow said he thinks the site is too valuable to sell because it could provide better access to the police department, which is not easily accessible as is.
"It's a terrible site," he said. "It's the worst place in the world they could have put it."
Commission members also questioned recent appraisals done of the property that put its value at tens of thousands of dollars less than what the town paid for it.
But commission attorney Tim Lee cautioned the commission against getting involved with the financial aspects of the issue. That is for the Legislative Council to worry about, he said.
The negative recommendation on the 8-24 referral means that if the council were to pass the demolition and sale of the property, it would have to do so by a two-thirds majority rather than by a simple majority.