GROTON -- Uncertain which way to jump on a question involving a disagreement between property owners, one of whom plans to redevelop his land for a medical office building, members of the Planning Board decided to give the parties a week to see if they can come to some kind of agreement before weighing in on the matter themselves.
As presented to the Planning Board at a public hearing held April 11, the plan calls for the construction of a pair of two-story buildings, one with a footprint of 8,305 square feet and the other 2,400 square feet.
The total project will come to 21,410 square feet of floor space.
The problem is next door neighbor and abutter Dottie Mack, whose business, Avalon Home Design, is located adjacent to Myette's property and which shares a septic system as well as access from Boston Road.
"It's a monstrosity," Mack told board members. "I'm getting boxed in. They're building right in front of me."
Mack said that the way the proposed buildings are situated in the concept plan that was presented to board members at the April 11 meeting would overwhelm her small business, blocking her sign from view as well as most of her building.
In addition, Mack said a plan to eliminate the septic system and connect to town wastewater services would quadruple her sewer bill, something she could ill afford.
What brought the issue to a head was a quirk in the town's zoning regulations involving the property's current status as a business-zoned parcel and a 1963 residential/agricultural zoning district, part of which still encompasses the property.
Because the square footage of the buildings proposed for the the Boston Road site totals more than 10,000 square feet, the proposal needs to have its concept plan go for a vote before Town Meeting to avoid having to apply for a change in zoning.
According to Myette attorney Robert Anctil, the project is being pressed for time by Pediatrics West, a tenant interested in the site but only if it can be ready by a date certain. "We have a long way to go on this project," said Anctil.
Myette real estate representative John Amerault said the site was tailored to fit the needs of the primary tenants, including excess footage that would allow for future growth.
But Myette was not the only party involved in the proposal; there were also Mack's interests to consider.
Mack pointed out topographical features of the site, including drainage issues that often leave open water on the property.
There was also the problem of snow storage in the winter.
"The whole thing needs investigation," said Mack, urging board members not to recommend the project. "There's no consideration in this plan for any abutter."
Mack, however, was not unprepared to work with Myette, she said, even offering to sell out to him if the price was right.
Board members had concerns including parking, septic, the size of the buildings, snow removal, landscaping, access and drainage.
But uppermost in their minds was the issue of adequate communication between the two neighbors, something board chairman John Giger stressed, saying that bad blood could slow down a review process that turned on speedy approval.
Giger's sentiments were echoed by fellow board member Scott Wilson, who said he would like to see some kind of informal agreement between the parties while colleague Timothy Svarczkopf questioned the size and location of the proposed buildings.
"I think it will be an uphill battle," concluded Svarczkopf of the review process.
In the end, board members voted to continue the public hearing until their meeting of April 18, giving time for the two sides to come to some sort of an agreement before making a decision whether or not to recommend the project to Town Meeting.