GROTON -- When the neighbor with whom a local businesswoman shares a septic system was granted approval to hook up to the town's sewer system, the move would force her to do the same.
The action came at a Board of Health meeting Monday when, in two separate decisions, members voted to allow 60 days for 120 Boston Road property owner Peter Myette to connect to the public-wastewater system, and 30 days for 116 Boston Road owner Dottie Mack to hook up as well.
The problem for Mack is she has said she has no interest in abandoning her current septic system, which she shares with Myette, a position that was reiterated Monday by fiance Shane Grant.
Grant told the board it would cause Mack financial hardship to hook up to the sewer system at this time.
But member Susan Horowitz was adamant that the board should vote to grant Myette's request to hook up in 60 days even if it forced Mack to do the same.
"The bottom line is that four years ago, both properties were supposed to be hooked up to the sewer system," explained Horowitz.
Horowitz referred to the town's zoning bylaw that requires all those along the route of the sewer line extending up Boston Road to hook up within 30 days of its construction, a regulation that in the four years since its completion has been ignored by a number of property owners, including Myette and Mack.
That situation was helped along by the town, which turned a blind eye to the violations.
The problem has been that the bylaw does not state who has the responsibility to enforce the hook-up requirement, a situation that forced an earlier meeting between the board and the Sewer Commission to decide who should have it.
In the meantime, Health Agent Ira Grossman sent letters to Myette and Mack notifying them that they had to hook up to the sewer system within 30 days or be in violation of the law.
Grossman said that although Myette, through his company PCM Realty Trust, had responded with the intention of complying and a request for a 60-day extension of the deadline to make it happen, the letter to Mack had not been acknowledged.
That was because Mack had been out of town on vacation, said Grant.
Horowitz suggested that Mack, having missed other meetings, may have simply been avoiding the board, a notion Grant quickly denied.
Mack and Grant have been at odds with Myette over his plan to develop his 3-acre lot at 120 Boston Road for construction of a two-story building intended for medical office space.
For years, said Myette attorney Robert Anctil, the two shared a septic system with funds being mutually deposited in a joint escrow account.
But the system had not been serviced in many years and neither party had contributed to the account in just as long.
Grant countered by saying that his building, where Mack's Avalon Home Design business is located, only has a handful of people dropping by every week with the toilet being flushed maybe only once a week. With so little activity at the property, it was not worth the expense them to give up their current system which had only recently been recertified under the state's Title 5 regulations.
Nevertheless, Horowitz insisted that they knew four years ago that they had to hook up and delaying an order to do so now would only kick the can down the road.
"My opinion is to (let the applicant hook up) and not wait another potential four years (before anything is done)," said Horowitz.
Board member Robert Fleischer expressed reluctance in allowing the hook-up, as it would mean abandoning the current septic system and forcing Mack to incur the expense of connecting without further discussion of the issue.
That was not the board's concern, countered Horowitz, the public health was and by enforcing the bylaw, the board was doing just that.
Members chose to divide the question into two separate votes covering each property owner.
Myette was granted the 60-day extension to get the connection done and Mack was required to comply with the letter of the bylaw which allowed 30 days to hook up.
But like Myette, Mack too could also apply for an extension from the 30-day deadline.
Voting with his colleagues including Chairman Jason Weber, Fleischer made both votes unanimous.