Gayle Dunne seeks deal with US neighbours over €1.5m property
GAYLE Dunne, wife of heavily indebted builder Sean Dunne, has made a last-ditch bid to save her controversial plan to redevelop a €1.5m home in the US.
A lawyer representing Mrs Dunne, a former gossip columnist, has extended an olive branch to residents opposed to the redevelopment of the property in the exclusive Belle Haven enclave of Greenwich, Connecticut.
The residents, whose objections led to work being halted last October, were invited to enter negotiations just hours before the project was due to be discussed at a public planning hearing on Wednesday night.
Mrs Dunne's lawyer Thomas Heagney, who acts as a trustee for the property, 38 Bush Avenue, succeeded in an application to have the hearing postponed.
He told the Greenwich planning and zoning appeals board he had discussed the matter with the neighbours' attorney.
The Dunnes moved to the upmarket area last year and have been renting a mansion while the Bush Avenue property is being redeveloped.
Mr Dunne had been regularly commuting between the US and Ireland, where he retains substantial business interests.
The developer, who is dealing with NAMA and also has large debts with non-NAMA banks, has denied being the owner of the Bush Avenue property.
However, his wife, who has refused to comment on her links to the property, has listed it as her home address in filings for two real-estate companies that she now runs.
Neither Gayle (36) nor Sean Dunne (56) were present at the brief hearing.
Plans to remodel the Victorian-era property have been in limbo for the past four months after local planning inspectors ordered work to stop.
They intervened after locals complained that demolition exceeded what had been permitted.
A number of residents who turned up for the hearing had also intended to voice their objections that the house being planned was too big for the site.
Speaking after he left the meeting, Mr Heagney said it was "premature" to talk about what kind of deal he was seeking to reach with the residents.
"We encourage the discussions and we'll be talking to their representatives," he said.
Richard Case, a retired IBM executive who lives next door to 38 Bush Avenue, said negotiations between the two sides had not yet begun.
"What I understand is that there was a phone call to start that process this afternoon," he told the Irish Independent.
He said his basic objection was that the planned house was far too big for the site.
Another resident, Bonnie Copp, said the property should adhere to the same building restrictions as others in the area and that if construction was limited to certain hours of the day and the size was more appropriate, then people would not object.