Groton City tries to delay demolition of Pfizer site

Groton - The City Council approved an ordinance Monday that is designed to delay by three months the planned demolition of Pfizer's former research headquarters, but that waiting period is nearly over because the company applied for a demolition permit on April 17.

The ordinance was brought forward shortly after Pfizer announced plans to tear down Building 118, a mostly vacant 750,000-square-foot complex off Eastern Point Road. The demolition would reduce the town's tax base by more than $2 million.

The ordinance establishes a 90-day waiting period between the time a demolition permit is applied for and granted, though it may be shortened to 30 days for "good cause" by the building official. No waiting period would be required if the building official determines delaying demolition would pose "significant risks to public safety," the ordinance said.

Mayor Marian Galbraith said the ordinance also requires the applicant to file other paperwork and she does not know where Pfizer is in the process.

Galbraith said it doesn't necessarily mean that Pfizer can start tearing down the building in July.

Part of the ordinance asks the applicant to include "a narrative statement of all appropriate alternatives to demolition considered by the applicant." The demolition plan application must also include a detailed plan for the removal of hazardous waste such as asbestos, lead paint and heavy metals.

Pfizer did not return an email seeking comment.

Galbraith said the waiting period, applicable to large commercial and industrial buildings, is intended to serve two purposes.

"One was the reuse of buildings wherever possible, and the other was to make sure that any environmental and health concerns were addressed," she said.

The ordinance is effective today.

Local and state officials expressed surprise and disappointment this spring when Pfizer announced it would raise Building 118, because the officials said they had worked to find a buyer to reuse the complex to help the entire region. One developer had expressed interest in acquiring the buildings. Even after Pfizer's announcement, some town officials clung to hope that a deal could be reached.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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