Until a few months ago, a group of Dover residents thought they had found the perfect way to keep a large development, proposed under the state's Chapter 40B affordable-housing law, out of their rural Colonial Road neighborhood.
But they soon learned that reaching their goal wasn't going to be easy.
The neighborhood group, Friends of Colonial Road, last fall obtained Planning Board approval for a six-lot Atwood Circle subdivision, which was to be an alternative to a five-story Chapter 40B project proposed in 2006 for the same parcel. The approval was appealed in Norfolk Superior Court.
A lawyer representing the Friends said the lawsuit filed by Dover resident Jonathon Fryer has no grounds and is misleading.
But a judge ordered the Planning Board to reopen its hearing on the Atwood Circle subdivision, and as a result, the board will reconsider its approval of the project during a meeting that will begin at 7 p.m. Monday in Town Hall.
Fryer, a lawyer, declined to comment.
In his lawsuit, Fryer states that he wasn't given an opportunity to speak at the Planning Board's hearing on Atwood Circle. Fryer states that he informed the board he could not attend the hearing on the two dates it was scheduled to be held last year, but the board's chairwoman declined his request to continue the hearing to another date. Fryer filed the lawsuit under the name, Dover Water Co., his family's private utility business, which abuts the Atwood Circle property.
The Planning Board reopened the hearing last month, at which time Fryer voiced his concerns that the board members acted haphazardly on the project because they wanted to pass it quickly. So the board opted for a reconsideration.
Town Planner Gino Carlucci said the Colonial Road neighbors obtained the rights to buy the Atwood Circle land from the developer who was planning the Chapter 40B project, which has been dropped. He said the the neighbors planned to build six houses and leave two lots open as conservation land.
"Now that will have to be reconsidered," said Carlucci, adding that planning officials cannot further discuss the issue because it is in litigation
In his lawsuit, Fryer expressed concern the subdivision project could contaminate the Dover Water Co.'s ground water, which is an aquifer that supplies a third of the town.
But Jason Talerman, the attorney for the Friends, said the fear was ungrounded.
"He was essentially asserting that our project would cause damage to his property," Talerman said. "His own engineer has reviewed the property and found no reason that it would."
Talerman said Fryer asked the Planning Board last month to allow him to gain access to his land, which is blocked off by wetlands, through Atwood Circle. The lawyer said Fryer wants to build a house on his land.
"We were extremely disappointed to hear about the appeal," Talerman said. "What he really wanted was us to provide road access so he can develop his property."
Talerman stated in a written response to the lawsuit that Fryer "filed the complaint in bad faith, with the sole goal of coercing the [The Friends] into providing an adequate and feasible means of vehicular access that would allow him to develop [his] abutting properties."
Fryer filed another lawsuit against the Planning Board in 2005, appealing its decision to construct a new cellphone tower near his home at Haven Street, stating it would be a danger to his family and detrimental to his property values. His complaint also alleged the original tower was illegal because no public hearing was conducted. The town eventually relocated the tower.
Talerman said his clients hope to gain approval for the subdivision again and move on. "We're hopeful that Mr. Fryer is able to resolve the project in his mind."