April 21, 2017

Concrete company sold

J.J. Mottes, the Stafford company linked to crumbling foundations, no longer operates at its Meadow Lane location, and its owners received at least hundreds of thousands of dollars through the sale of the property, according to the assessor's office.

The four abutting parcels were sold in January to 10 Meadow Lane LLC for $455,000, Assessor Tami Rossi said.

The address for which the purchasing company is named is the location of the former J.J. Mottes concrete company.

The principal of 10 Meadow Lane LLC is Paul Schmieder, who registered with the secretary of the state in December, according to the secretary of the state's website.

Schmieder also is listed as the principal of Connecticut Ready Mix, the company to which J.J. Mottes leased its facilities and equipment in April 2016.

Connecticut Ready Mix is on the secretary of the state's website as operating a location at 10 Meadow Lane in Stafford.

Schmieder said he believes J.J. Mottes has not been operating for some time, adding that the company was no longer in operation when he viewed the property prior to the purchase.

In May 2016, the company entered into an assurance of voluntary compliance with the attorney general and the Department of Consumer Protection to not sell aggregate from its quarry for use in residential foundations until July 2017.

Schmieder said his company leased the facilities and equipment while they were conducting the lengthy sale transaction.

"We bought the land and we bought the equipment," he said. "We own everything."

Schmieder said the $455,000 price tag was for the land only, and would not comment on how much he paid for J.J. Mottes' equipment, which includes a fleet of trucks.

Following a joint investigation by the attorney general and DCP, the state determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue a claim under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. Hundreds of property owners have told the state they have crumbling foundations, all the result of inferior concrete.

When asked in September why the state didn't prosecute the concrete suppliers, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said they had "no substantial assets" and would not be able to provide significant financial relief.

The state's investigation found that the quarry from which J.J. Mottes used aggregate lies on a vein of rock "that contains significant amounts of pyrrhotite."

The quarry linked to crumbling foundations is at 180 Tolland Turnpike in Willington and is still owned by the Joseph J. Mottes company, according to the secretary of the state's website.

Schmieder said his companies have not used aggregate from the quarry in the past and have no intention of using it in the future.

"We never have, never will" use aggregate from that quarry, he said.

Patrick Gallahue, spokesman for the secretary of the state, could not confirm that the concrete company is completely out of business or attempting to dissolve, but added that there is a lengthy process when dissolving a business.

Officials from the family-owned companies of J.J. Mottes and Becker Construction have said their product is not faulty, but that failing foundations are due to the manner in which the foundations were installed.

Hundreds of homes, condominiums, and businesses have failing foundations, and Malloy has said there is the potential that more than 34,000 structures could contain pyrrhotite-laden concrete.

The problem could cost anywhere between $100 million and $1 billion to fix, Malloy said.

The Capitol Region Council of Governments estimates the average cost of repairs is between $100,000 and $200,000 per structure.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has turned down the governor twice when he requested assistance.

A comprehensive legislative bill, which in part would enable towns to establish a grant program to repair or replace foundations, is currently working its way through the General Assembly.

Other efforts to assist have failed, including developing a program in which insurance companies would have provided more than $50 million for foundation repairs.

That voluntary program failed to gain sufficient interest, with only four out of 29 companies agreeing to participate, ultimately eliminating the program as a relief option for affected property owners.

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