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Doctor Looks to Replace House With Medical Office Building

Orthodontist proposes to build a 10,000 square-foot building where an old house now sits on Plainville Avenue.

A 200-year-old house that’s offered for sale as “a handyman’s special” may never see repair. 

Instead, a local orthodontist would like to tear down the 1,038 square-foot house, which sits at 801 Plainville Ave. on 1.86 acres at the corner of Plainville Avenue and Route 6 and replace it with a two-story medical office building.

Dr. Baliram Maraj, who owns Valley Orthodontics at 353 Scott Swamp Road, appeared before the Town Plan and Zoning Commission recently to broach the idea of replacing the house with a medical building. Because the property contains two lots, one zoned commercial and the other residential, Maraj would need a change of zone, special permit and site plan approval from the commission.

Attorney Robert Reeve of Scully, Nicksa & Reeve represented Maraj, saying that the orthodontist had outgrown his current office and would like to build a 10,000 square-foot medical office building, which would house Valley Orthodontics and other practices. With six or seven employees, Reeve said Maraj would require about half the space.

“He’s been in that [current] site 13 years and he’s outgrowing it and needs to get a bigger space,” Reeve explained. “He also lives in town and would like to keep the practice here in town so he can be near his family." 

Reeve said Maraj had an agreement with the family that owns the house pending zoning approvals.

The property was listed for sale, according to real estate websites, in June of 2011; the asking price is $250,000.

Reeve also said that the property could be rezoned for business use, because it sits across from Farmington Bank and edging up to the plaza with Five Guys and Liquor Square. 

“This is really a mixed-use area,” Reeve said. “It sits between some commercial use on 177 and some residential farther to the north on 177… as you go east and west you really have a mixture of residential and business uses and …north on Plainville Avenue uses tend more to residential but you do have municipal uses with the recreation building and the golf course.”

Further, Reeve said Maraj promised to build something with a “residential feel” and that it was unlikely someone would rebuild a home on the property.

Patrick O’Leary of VHB in Middletown went farther, saying the proposal for a 5,000 square-foot footprint and 70 parking spaces would be “responsible development” and would allow for wetlands on the property to be protected and restored.

The commission’s response to the proposal was mixed.

Barbara Brenneman said she agreed that the property had “outlived its residential character,” but several commissioners expressed concerns for the neighbors nearby, who had not yet been notified.

“The concept you’ve expressed makes sense,” Don Doeg said. “You sort of scared me with 70 parking spaces but what you’ve said intrigues me enough to wait for the next proposal.”

Phil Dunn, the commission chairman, was less positive. 

“My comments would be tempered by what the neighbors think. I think they would be quite concerned with a 10,000 square-foot building. If you want to make a small office building look like a house, it would have to be more in the neighborhood of a 5,000 square-foot building,” Dunn said. “This would be more maximizing the use of this land instead of gently using it.”

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