State Terminates Agreement to Sell Mystic Oral School to Respler Homes

Mystic Oral School (CT Examiner)

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GROTON — The state has terminated its contract to sell the Mystic Oral School to Respler Homes LLC, a deal that a number of residents have opposed since its inception in 2019.

“Governor Lamont has directed DECD to terminate the contract for the sale of the Mystic Education Center to Respler Homes, LLC. The State of Connecticut looks forward to working with the Town of Groton on a suitable development that cleans up this site and restores the property to productive use in the future,” said Anthony M. Anthony, spokesman for the Office of Governor Ned Lamont, in an email to CT Examiner late Monday afternoon. 

John Burt, manager of the Town of Groton, confirmed that the state had terminated the purchase agreement, which would have sold the 37 acres at 240 Oral School Road to Respler Homes LLC for $1. 

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Burt said the status of the development agreement between Respler Homes and the town has not been determined. The agreement included a proposal to build 750-900 homes and rehabilitate several buildings on the site.

“The agreement is still intact. We’re waiting to see the termination letter from the state to Respler [as] to whether there is an impact on the agreement,” Burt wrote in a text to CT Examiner. 

Also unknown is the status of the State Contract Standards Board investigation into Jeffrey Respler and the status of the Blue Lotus Group, which has said it would buy Respler Homes LLC and develop the Mystic Oral School Property.

State Sen. Heather Somers (R-Groton) said she had not spoken to Gov. Lamont about his reasons for terminating the contract. But, she said she sent a letter last week to the offices of the Attorney General and the Governor “asking very specific questions as to whether the process had adhered to our statute” and requesting a closer look at the contract. 

“They made the decision to terminate the contract and then reassess, come back together with the Town of Groton and go out for another RFP when it is appropriate, but making sure that the town is on board with what is developed on that property site,” she said. “This original proposal was way out of line, scope wise and size wise, with what any of us feel was appropriate for that particular parcel of land.”

Somers said the state made it clear they want to sell the property and see it developed. 

“But they want to make sure that the property is developed in a way that the Town of Groton and citizens are happy and satisfied with it,” she said. 

Somers said development had been controversial and she was in favor of exploring new options for the site. 

“Having this split in the town where so many residents living next door to it were going to be absolutely unhappy is not a good approach. So I applaud the decision to stop and regroup and to move forward in a slower, more measured way.”