The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 10, 2006


Vets receive ZBA okay to continue operations

The Carlisle Animal Hospital operates by special permit in a residential district on Bedford Road. (File photo by Ellen Huber)

Members of Carlisle Animal Hospital, owned by Healthy Pet Corporation, and John Farrington, attorney for Dr. Peter Morey, appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on February 2, to request a modification to a special permit originally granted to Dr. Peter Morey, the previous owner of the Carlisle Animal Hospital practice located at 998 Bedford Road. Farrington explained that when the business was sold, no one realized there would be a problem with the special permit, which allowed the Carlisle Animal Hospital to operate as a veterinary hospital in a residential area. Special permits are issued to individuals, not to property. Healthy Pet discovered that to be the case when notified by the Building Inspector after they began plans to renovate the inside of the hospital building. "We started the ball rolling with the architect, then found out about the permit," said Chief of Staff Rebecca Harrison. "We want to continue [moving forward] with the architect."

Healthy Pet Corporation is headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, with over 35 veterinary hospitals along the eastern seaboard. They currently own 11 animal care facilities in Massachusetts, including Belmont Animal Hospital and Lancaster Animal Hospital. Representing Healthy Pet and Carlisle Animal Hospital were Dr. Melissa Sargent, the Carlisle Animal Hospital veterinary doctor, and Rebecca Harrison, an administrative manager of the hospital holding the title "chief of staff."

Plans to renovate include making cosmetic improvements to the waiting room so it is easier to clean and is more attractive, and adding better diagnostic and dental equipment. Currently, there are no plans to improve the exterior of the hospital building.

Abutters to the Carlisle Animal Hospital, however, had concerns not about the appearance of the hospital, but about how hospital clients and delivery persons were accessing the property. Joseph Campagna of Bedford Road presented a lengthy list of his problems with the hospital saying, "I feel [granting the special permit] is wrong on so many levels." At the top of his list were concerns for safety on Foss Way and the large number of delivery trucks that frequent the hospital. "The issue is that Foss Way isn't equipped to deal with the traffic. [The hospital] should have a proper entrance into Bedford Road." If the practice has plans to offer additional services or expand their practice, the traffic situation would be compounded according to Campagna. "Foss Way is not adequate to support the business."

Campagna also stated there has been increased criminal activity in the area, specifically break-ins at the hospital to steal drugs, as well as loitering in the hospital parking lot between 9 and 10 p.m. Police reports indicated that a break-in to the hospital occurred in September 2003, but they have not recorded any suspicious loitering activity in the area of late.

Another abutter to the hospital property complained about clients walking their dogs in his backyard and using it as a latrine.

Dr. Melissa Sargent and Rebecca Harrison claimed not to have heard any of these complaints since they took over the practice in 2003, but would try to rectify them. Harrison said the practice is and will remain limited to a two-doctor practice with possibly six or seven staff members.

After discussions with the board members, abutters, and Assistant Building Inspector John Minty, the board agreed to grant the modification to the special permit stipulating the following conditions: the 1996 special permit remains in full effect; fencing is installed along the rear of the property in consultation with the abutters; "left turn only" and other appropriate signage is installed on the property to effectively direct drivers how to exit from the hospital parking lot and that the practice employ only two full-time doctors. The permit is granted for one year. In order for Healthy Pet to continue operating the hospital, they must return in one year; otherwise Dr. Morey would be reinstated as the overseer of the hospital.

Other business:

1230 Westford Street revisited

After the ZBA denied his request for a special permit last month and invited him to submit a new application, Ralph Hogan of Lowell appeared before the board with a new house plan. The house is now designed to fit within the allotted 65' x 65' space, which is placed further forward on the property. At 3,469 square feet it also meets the maximum square footage requirement of 3,600 square feet. The board granted Hogan's request for a special permit stipulating that all previous decisions for that property are still in effect.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito