March 20, 2008
OPEN SPACE DEAL: Boy Scouts sue town over price

The Boy Scouts of America have sued Ridgefield, claiming the town is trying to buy property owned by the Boy Scouts for less than its market value.

On Monday, March 17, Town Clerk Barbara Serfilippi received notice that the town is a defendant in a civil lawsuit brought by the Connecticut Yankee Council Inc., Boy Scouts of America.

The suit seeks a “declaratory judgment” to force the town to allow the Boy Scouts to sell 42 acres of property on Pine Mountain at “market value.”

The property at issue was donated to the Boy Scouts in 1972 by the late Jerry Tuccio, a local developer.

The parcel was deed restricted for use by the Boy Scouts, with a provision that it would revert to the town “in the event the name of the parcel herein is changed or that the Boy Scouts of America, Inc., fail to use the property for scouting purposes.” But in 2002, Mr. Tuccio signed a “release” from the deed restriction, at the request of the Boy Scouts.

The town claims Mr. Tuccio did not have the right to remove a deed restriction on the property.

Meanwhile, the Conservation Commission has been trying to negotiate a purchase agreement for the parcel, and on Feb. 4, 2008, Conservation Commission Chairman Benjamin Oko sent a letter to the Boy Scouts of America, proposing a $350,000 purchase price.

However, the Boy Scouts say the property is worth more than $1 million, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said this week.

Is ‘release’ valid?

According to Mr. Marconi, the “release” that Mr. Tuccio signed in July 2002, is not valid.

“You cannot just go back and change it, once it’s filed in the land records,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

In January 2008, Mr. Marconi signed a “title claim” to the property on behalf of the town, challenging the removal of the deed restriction. “After the Deed was recorded on the Ridgefield Land Records, the grantor in the Deed became a stranger to the title of the Property, and unable to affect the title and the executory interest condition created in the deed by any subsequent actions whatsoever,” the title claim states.

The lawsuit filed this week seeks to validate Mr. Tuccio’s release and to “quiet title.” The Boy Scouts organization wishes to sell the property and place the proceeds in endowment,” the suit states. “The town, based on a deed restriction that was released in July 2002, is threatening, and attempting, to block any attempt ... to sell the Pine Mountain property unless the Connecticut Yankee Council agrees to sell the property to the town at a price far below market value.”

The lawsuit seeks damages “in excess of $15,000” and an order that the town holds no claim or interest in the property.

© Copyright 2008 by Hersam Acorn Newspapers