WAKEFIELD — The tenancy of a popular local dentist in a town-owned building led to a disagreement at last week’s Town Council meeting over what matters should be brought before the board and what should be handled by the Town Administrator.

The town has decided that it needs the town-owned building at 5 Common St. to house its newly expanded Health Department. The building has long been home to a mix of town offices and private tenants. The office of the Town Planner was once in the building and the Wakefield-Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce will be moving. Currently, one other tenant remains, local dentist Dr. Richard Luise.

The matter first surfaced publicly at the April 11 Town Council meeting, when Councilor Michael McLane raised the question at the end of the meeting and asked for it to be placed on the agenda to be discussed at the board’s next meeting.

At last week’s Town Council meeting, Town Counsel Thomas Mullen explained that he had indeed sent to Dr. Luise a “notice to quit.” Mullen explained that the dentist was a “tenant at will” and could be ordered to vacate the premises for any reason — or for no reason — on 30-days notice.

But the notice to quit, issued on March 25, gave Dr. Luise 90 days notice, Mullen said, adding that Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio has had previous conversations with the dentist and advised him that this day would be coming and he should be ready to leave at some point.

Mullen said that he tried to as non-confrontational as possible in his letter to quit, adding that the purpose of the notice was to start a conversation with Dr. Luise about a timetable. Mullen said that he has had conversations with Dr. Luise’s attorney, Brian McGrail, and expected that a mutually agreeable schedule can be arranged to free up the space so that the town’s Health Department can move in.

Mullen said that he was confident that an eviction would not be necessary.

It was noted by then Town Councilor Ann Santos that the town has a right to discuss with a tenant in a town-owned building that it’s time to move. She added that this news did not come as a surprise to Dr. Luise, who had been advised that this day would come. Not all management issues need to come to the board, she added.

Councilor Edward Dombroski acknowledged that this was a difficult situation for everyone. But he said that it seemed odd and inappropriate that it came up in a public forum. He said that Dr. Luise was “blindsided” by having his private business discussed at a public meeting.

Dombroski echoed Santos’ comment that the board trusts Maio as CEO of the town to handle day-to-day matters like these.

McLane maintained that Dr. Luise was actually blindsided by the notice to quit and “did not know what to do.”

“We have a difference of opinion on what should be brought to the Town Council,” McLane said, adding that he had no desire to get into the day-to-day management of the town.

“I apologize to no one for making this public,” McLane said. “It needed to be brought out into the open.”

Dombroski disagreed.

“Dr. Luise didn’t ask you to bring this to the Town Council,” he said, adding that he was in favor of giving the dentist the time he needs.

McLane said that he was alerted to the situation by a constituent.

Town Council chair Julie Smith-Galvin noted that councilors hear from constituents all the time, but “have to show some respect and some discretion” and don’t bring everything to the Town Council that Maio can handle.

Maio said that his take-away from the discussion was that the next time something like this comes up, he’ll bring it to the Town Council in executive session.