GROTON — Residents in the neighborhood of Jenkins Road might have been lulled into thinking that after years of talk and negotiations as well as a slowdown in the local real estate market, nothing would be done with a 9.5-acre property owned by developer Robert M. Hicks, Inc.
But a hearing with the Board of Health Monday night indicated that the developer’s latest plans have been moving forward, if only at a snail’s pace.
The project once known as Pine Ridge Estates, off Jenkins Road, has been the object of strenuous efforts over the years to have it completed in some way that could prove profitable to its owners.
Robert M. Hicks, Inc. first unveiled its plan for the Jenkins Road site in 2004 when the company applied to the Zoning Board of Appeal for a comprehensive permit under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing law.
At the time, Hicks proposed building a 44-unit housing complex for residents age 55 and over that would rise to three stories with a basement level garage. The garage would have held 48 vehicles while an outdoor lot would have provided spaces for another 46 vehicles.
The proposal however, was resisted by residents as well as town officials and eventually scaled back to a plan involving only 20 living units. This plan too was scuttled when the state’s National Heritage watchdog group declared that only 55 percent of the land area at the site could be developed.
Hicks then returned with another plan that included seven buildings of two units each with an existing home on the property to be converted to a residence for mentally disabled persons.
That plan too fell through with the collapse of the local real estate market. Construction projects all across town either came to a halt or were cut back, among them Pine Ridge Estates. In the meantime, company owner Robert Hicks himself passed away and enthusiasm for developing the Jenkins Road site stalled.
Finally, late last year, Hicks’ company, mindful of its responsibility to the former owners of the property to develop the site and cognizant of the fact that they had waited patiently far beyond the length of time anyone ever expected, decided to move ahead with a new two-home proposal.
Under the new plan, Hicks has suggested building only the two single homes on the property and sell the existing house as a regular single-family home as well. Under the plan, only 5.4 acres would be needed for the project allowing the remaining 4 acres to be given to the town as open land.
Over the past months since approaching the Planning Board with its latest proposal, Hicks has moved slowly with a failure to appear before the Board of Health last Monday night.
Placed on the board’s agenda for its May 17 meeting, representatives of the developer had been expected to appear in order to discuss a new septic system planned for the existing home at the Jenkins Road project.
However, according to Planning Administrator Michelle Collette, who was present at last Monday’s meeting, the problem was actually a scheduling mix-up. Hicks, she said, had contacted her to say that he would not be prepared to present septic plans that night and requested to meet with the board at a later date.
A date of June 7, was tentatively scheduled for a subsequent public hearing on the subject.
Septic designs for the two new homes to be constructed by Hicks will be Title 5 compliant and are not expected to present approval problems for the developer.