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Home Sale Moves Forward Despite Radon Mixup

GROTON -- A local property owner narrowly avoided a collapse of the pending sale of his home last Monday night when the Board of Health voted to approve a variance to the town's bylaws regarding a 30-day notification of changes in the status of radon in the well water.

Although homeowner John Spead was not present at the hearing, he was represented by his real-estate agent, who explained the situation.

All was going well with the sale of the home at 50 Hoyts Wharf Road, the agent said, until the failure of a water pump a couple weeks before a deal to sell the home was due to close. The pump, attached to the home's well, was swiftly repaired but could not be restarted for a week.

That alone was not enough to upset the pending sale. What did upset the sale was that a water aerator treatment system was also attached to the well to treat the water for radon.

According to planning administrator and acting zoning enforcement officer Michelle Collette, Spead had installed the aerating system after harmful levels of radon were discovered in the water in 2005. Later testing found that the system worked, with levels dropping to within state approved safety limits.

Spead, said Collette, proved to be a "conscientious homeowner" who performed all due diligence in addressing the radon problem.

But due to the last-minute nature of the pump problem, not enough time was left to fulfill the requirement of the town's bylaws regarding 30-day notification to the Board of Health for approval of the changes to the well's pumping system before the pending close.
Also, due to the radon issue, an updated notice would also have to be placed on the home's deed indicating review and approval of mitigation efforts at the residence.

It was the issue of the deed that most concerned the buyer of Spead's home who worried that without approval by the Board of Health, the unsettled issue of radon on the property would "cast a cloud" over it and possibly cause difficulties in selling it at a later date.

With such fears on the part of the buyer, said the realtor, the whole months-long effort in getting the house sold would "fall apart" and the whole process would have to start all over again. With the current state of the real-estate market, it would likely take much longer than usual to find another buyer.

Meanwhile, not expecting anything to go wrong with the sale of their home, Spead and his family were already on their move to Florida.

Sympathetic to the seller as well as the buyer, board members were not opposed to helping them out as best they could.

"It's just a question of satisfying the letter of the law," said board Chairman Jason Weber noting also that with radon levels within safe limits, there were no health issues involved.

Thus, in a pair of decisions, the board voted unanimously first to waive the requirement for the 30-day notification "based on the specifics of this particular case." The action was in no way to be considered as setting a precedent for future such situations.

In its second vote, board members decided to place a superseding notice on the deed indicating that the radon situation had been fully remedied. That notice, however, would be contingent on whether scheduled future testing indicated that radon levels in the well water remained within safe limits.

View this article at http://www.nashobapublishing.com/groton_news/ci_15694229#ixzz0vqtuNamR.