Letters, Camden Herald
Get the whole story
Reading about the rehabilitation of the Foxhill property is of interest to me. For me, there are too many ironies to list.
Though my late wife and I moved to the Midcoast area for many varied reasons, serving as a construction manager for a local company working at Fox Hill was my first job in this economy. After we knew our move was permanent, we purchased a piece of land that was on the market for years. It abutted the property of a man, who as a young boy, reacted to a kit of foxes outside the kitchen of his families home. The purchase instigated dialogue and debate. The insight I gained from those conversations remain to this day.
I have heard many arguments against the zoning change. Paparazzi, traffic, and precedent to name a few. All have some level of merit in the eye of the antagonist. I view the realities of each as quite statistically finite. They have either already happened (Fox Hill is, or has operated as, a commercial property in all things except zoning), or, will likely not happen (Fox Hill will become the next Betty Ford).
It is my hope that a "reality" story becomes part of the dialogue. I am thinking of a story that includes a business man/woman as the main character. I am thinking of a story about what happens when that business person visits Camden (Knox County) for the first time, likes what they find, and, decides to stay and bring their business. I am thinking how the story might be different if it included the main character having an even more significant life-altering experience in Camden than a car problem.
I may not be able to vote on the issue. I have, however, been very deeply and personally touched by the statistical probability of non-fiction. For that I am forever grateful.
Thank you for your time,
Mark E. Dierckes
Hope (how ironic)
Pulling a fast one?
First of all I would like to go on record as supporting the establishment of a high-end alcohol/drug rehabilitation facility in the greater Midcoast area. Lord knows these are hard times and I think there are few families who have not been affected by alcohol or drugs. But I am also troubled by a few things.
In recent editions of your newspaper there have been full page ads touting the merits of just such a facility, but why is it there are no names attached to it? It feels to me like someone is trying to pull a fast one. And now we are supposed to get behind a special zoning change to allow the facility to be plunked down smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood. This seems like cronyism at its worst!
I would remind people that we have seen this before with both the Kodak Center and later MBNA. Both swept into town on enormous waves of cash and promised to be the economic saviors of the community. (P.S. A lot of folks including myself didn't know that we needed saving! ) These companies bought up properties and threw lavish parties and then disappeared leaving a trail of broken down buildings in their wake - real estate which was ultimately sold for pennies on the dollar.
Now we are supposed to fall all over ourselves because of the rosy promises and the connections to a noted treatment facility in Boston.
I would agree that the former Fox Hill property has limited appeal given its size and current condition, but I don't believe it is up to the taxpayers to find a solution for a buyer who expects to be handed a zoning change because it is the only way the purchase will work for him/her. As a buyer it is clearly caveat emptor. You don't buy a multi-million dollar property and then try to change the ordinance to suit your needs. That is totally back asswards. Trying to ram a solution through in short order smacks of elitism and is a double standard and I personally find it offensive.
If Fox Hill does become an alcohol treatment facility, it needs to happen with the support of the neighbors, the town and and adherence to existing ordinances and the master plan. This is a tough business environment and I have huge respect for all of the business owners who work their tails off to survive. I don't think you'll find that any of them are buying mansions in Malibu with their piles of excess cash. And I don't think that the promise of a few jobs is enough to warrant a zoning change and possibly set a precedent that may totally alter the appearance of the town forever.
So lets take time and work this though in an orderly manner. If we vote to change the ordinances to accommodate a new use, fine. It is the way democracy is supposed to work. But we also need to look at the long term consequences to make certain we are not creating a situation we will later come to regret.
Camden and Rockport are precious places. Change is inevitable. Some of it is good - some of it maybe not. Money can buy lots of things, but just remember what a mess money and lousy regulation has made of our national government. It is absolutely shameful! This could happen here on a smaller scale and the consequences would be no less devastating.
A sound idea
The option proposed by Camden town attorney Bill Kelly to create a 'contract zone' at Fox Hill to allow for high end drug and alcohol rehab facility is a sound idea. A similar plan paved the way for the new boatyard in Belfast and has worked wonders for the town by bringing in much needed jobs.
It's understandable that Bay View Street neighbors of Fox Hill might be, as they put it "extremely concerned," about what impact such a facility might have on their summer cottages and cloistered lifestyle by a common "business" moving in. But really, we're not talking about a sand pit, cement plant, auto repair garage or bank call center. All commercial businesses are not the same, and a $60,000 per month, 12-bed rehab facility sounds pretty sedate to me.
Lost in this legal kerfuffle of 'Billionaires vs. Millionaires' is the positive impact such plan would have on the town at large, i.e. good jobs for the residents of Camden: cooks, nurses, gardeners, massage therapists, maintenance workers, drivers, security personnel etc. etc. If Fox Hill Real Estate LLC should buy into the concept of the contract zone, then a paying at the very least a 'living wage' to all workers should be part of the bargain.
The real and positive economic impact on Camden at large of a new facility at Fox Hill should trump the imagined petty annoyances of part time summer residents.
Rezoning not 'in harmony'
Because of our deep concern and caring for all Camden residents, we are writing to opposed the Fox Hill rezoning proposal. This proposal would no be in harmony with the abutting residential land uses and has the potential for serious unintended consequences to the town of Camden, in general, and all residential areas of Camden in particular. We have witnesses young families grow and thrive in this residential area. Their safety and freedom to use our narrow, winding street (Bay View Street) will be seriously impacted by this proposed zoning change.
Our town planners, committees and law enforcement officials have worked long and hard for many years to ensure the continued safety and integrity of Camden's residential zoning plan.
In the long run, it matters to all of us.
Julie and Charlie Cawley
Curves charming, dangerous
I have lived on Bay View Street since 1960—first as a summer resident, now a year-round resident. In the past 53 years, I have watched the numbers of joggers on Bay View Street rise from zero to scores running on it every day in good weather. Some of the joggers push jogging strollers. I have also watched the numbers of bicyclists, skate boarders, dog walkers, and just plain folks out for a stroll rise exponentially. Those who use Bay View Street enjoy the loop that you can make on your own steam from town, past the lovely graveyard and back into town on Chestnut Street.
Once you get past Beacon Street there are many blind curves. The curves are part of Bay View Street’s charm. They are also its danger. Though I drive slowly and have never been in a car accident on Bay View Street, I have been in several near misses simply from oncoming drivers thinking they are in the “countryside” and not understanding how slowly they have to drive and how close they have to keep to their side of the road. Add pedestrians to the mix and the danger is even plainer to see.
Though the proponents of the Fox Hill proposal say the traffic on Bay View Street will not increase, it is hard to see how a alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility, operating 24 hours a day, with a staff and deliveries, will not increase the traffic.
My husband Giovanni Ferrero and I oppose the Fox Hill proposal for the increased traffic and traffic safety hazards such a facility would inevitably bring, both to those who live on Bay View Street and to those who use it every day for recreation; I oppose the proposed zoning changes as an attempt to make possible the future whittling-away (in other parts of town) of the people-friendliness of Camden’s streets, which are its pride and joy. And that is to say nothing of the possible whittling-away of Camden’s lingering fox, deer, raccoon, chipmunk, mink, vole, pine marten and squirrel friendliness as well — all of whom enjoy Bay View Street as much as everyone else.
Another successful book sale
The Friends of Rockport Public Library extend an enormous thank you to each of the many people who helped make our 2013 Book Sale such a grand success. This year the Friends raised more than $12,000 for the library.
Our gratitude goes out to all of the people who attended the sale and supported the event with their generous purchases. In addition, we especially want to thank the many volunteers who worked tirelessly before, during and after the sale. We thank all the people who donated books and other items for the book sale, and the Rockport Garden Club members and others who contributed to our bake sale. We thank the various organizations and businesses that donated items, time, energy and expertise to make the sale more enjoyable and convenient for everyone. Thank you to our Public Works Department for their help and support, to MidCoast Recreation Center for allowing us to hold our book sale at their facility again this year, and to the West Rockport Fire Station for giving us a place to sort book donations all year long.
Special thanks to the four local authors who came to share and sign books for the children: Liza Walsh, author of The Fairy House Handbook and Fairy Garden Handbook; Melissa Sweet, author of Tupelo Rides the Rails and many others; Chris Van Dusen, author of the Mr. Magee books and many others; and Fran Hodgkins, author of more than 20 children's books including André: the Famous Harbor Seal.
Thank you all so much!
Linda Kapp, Secretary
Friends of Rockport Public Library
The purpose of zoning
I am concerned about the Fox Hill project.
When my family purchased a home on Chestnut Street, in a residentially zoned neighborhood, we did so with the expectation that the neighborhood would remain residential in nature and that we would be protected by Camden zoning from unwanted commercial development.
This is the whole purpose of zoning: to establish uniform districts with defined permitted uses. Zoning is meant to provide certainty, protect property values, and prohibit inconsistent or non-conforming uses in an established district. To undermine the basic protection provided by zoning would be hugely unfortunate and establish a dangerous precedent.
If you later allow a large commercial venture in a residentially zoned neighborhood, what’s the point of zoning – why even have zoning? It’s unfair to the current property owners and undermines the whole principle of zoning protection.
There are other appropriately zoned districts that would permit such a use. The Fox Hill proposal is a for-profit commercial venture. There is no good reason why we should undermine the integrity of our existing zoning ordinance so that a few can profit at the town’s expense.
This project is not in the best interest of the town. Please reject any attempt to weaken our zoning protection.
Franklin M. Walker, Jr.
Violation of a pledge
Candidate for president and as president, Barack Obama said "I promise 100 percent transparency in my administration" and "I will allow five days of public comment before I sign any bills." Needless to say he has violated these pledges on numerous occasions.
He has led one of the most secretive administrations in modern history. Deny, delay and cover ups are the standard policy of many government leaders of today. Seldom does our current government voluntarily release public documents. To get information from the IRS, EPA, White House, Justice Department, Office of Secretary of State and other agencies of our government, one has to go to court.
The Associated Press found some of his political appointees use internal government email accounts that are separate from their external accounts to conduct official business. This practice could complicate agencies legal responsibilities to turn over emails under public record requests and congressional inquires. Lisa Jackson, former head of Environmental Protection Agency used alias Richard Windsor to conduct official business while Thomas Perez, (of Black Panther scandal fame) head of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division used a private email account on at least 1,200 occasions.
One has to wonder of President Obama and members of his administration know what the word transparency means.
Inspiring and powerful event
As the sun came up over Penobscot Bay on Saturday August 17 38 intrepid swimmers and their paddler escorts strode into the water at Ducktrap Beach to swim the 3.1 miles from Lincolnville to Islesboro to raise funds and awareness for LifeFlight of Maine. This inspiring and powerful event saw the shores of Islesboro lined with well-wishers cheering the swimmers in and $23,000 raised to date for LifeFlight. It is fair to say that the first Islesboro Crossing event was a success.
One of the themes of the Crossing was that 'we are all in this together.' Nothing highlighted that sentiment more than the incredible support provided by individuals and organizations who pitched in to help, all for free. On behalf of LifeFlight of Maine and the LifeFlight Foundation, we'd like to thank:
Capital Ambulance; Northeast Ambulance; Islesboro EMS; Islesboro Public Safety; Camden Fire Dept; the towns of Islesboro and Lincolnville; the United States Coast Guard; the Maine Marine Patrol; the Maine State Ferry Service; course boat crews boat owners Ann Montgomery, Peter Clapp, Ben Wolcott, Justin Ford, Flint Decker, Chris Gilday, Mike Davis, Peter Berke, Henry Haselton, George Haselton, and Sarah Hatfield; All Aboard Trolley & Limo; Courier Publications; The Islesboro Sporting Club; Maine magazine; The Penobscot Bay and Bangor Area YMCAs; Hannaford; Waldo County Emergency Management; the Camden Snow Bowl; Quicksilver Marine; Cleanwoods Portable Toilets; Boardman Cottage; Elise Brown; Sally Smith; Deidre Dority; Allie Wood; Owen Howell; Jennifer Whyte; Mary Hauprich; Betsy Saltonstall; Carl Zenk; Beth Mazerolle; Shannon Thompson; Hodding Carter; Helen Carter; Anabel Carter; Eliza Carter; Angus Carter; Mark Munger; Kate Bourne; Scott Arndt; Brandy Dupper-Macy; Christine DeLorimer; Renee Johnson; Nancy Krusell; Hanna Wood-Krusell; Melissa Cushman; Jazmyne Schoppee; Will Schoppee; Dr. Norman Dinerman; all the experienced swimmers and event organizers who patiently consulted and advised; and of course our swimmers and paddlers who challenged themselves in support of this vital service.
While the 2013 iteration of the swim is over, there is still time to donate, either in recognition of these swimmers or in support of LifeFlight's ongoing operations. Giving is easy: simply visit the website at lifeflightmaine.org. LifeFlight’s vision for Maine is a place in which every person, in every community, has access to critical care and medical transport when they need it. Thanks to the efforts of the folks above — and thanks to your continued generosity — this vision can be realized every day. Thank you.
On behalf of the Islesboro Crossing organizing team,
Alarmed by rezoning proposal
Fox Hill Real Estate LLC Proposal Dear Citizens of Camden; We have become aware of the efforts by the Fox Hill Real Estate LLC to change the Coastal Residential Zoning District Ordinance to allow the founding of a non-residential drug and alcohol treatment facility on the current Fox Hill Property site.
We are alarmed by this zoning change proposal, since in our opinion, it opens Pandora’s Box with respect to changing the fundamental protection that the existing zoning Ordinance provides for all of the residential properties in the Camden coastal areas.
If allowed, it will become like a cancerous tumor, providing the precedent for future piecemeal implants of business ventures expanding throughout our precious residential coastal area.
Furthermore, we urge the Planning Board not to consider using Mr. Bill Kelly’s Contract Zoning discussion as a way to circumvent the current protection provided in the existing Ordinance.
Camden is a very special place, its residential coastal areas need protection from business intrusion. This is why we have the existing coastal Zoning Ordinance. Do not bow to the salesmanship and corresponding pressure of the Fox Hill Real Estate LLC, stand by the current Ordinance. There are numerous other locations around Camden that can house such a meaningful facility and the existing Fox Hill property must remain zoned as residential.
Robert P. and Andrea Collins
Jeff and Deb Dodge
Phil and Teresa Fowler
Tom and Ann Fear
Brian and Maureen Kelly
Fox Hill = unexploded bomb
Anyone with half a brain or more must know that putting a drug clinic in the middle of Camden is like putting an unexploded bomb in the middle of the Camden-Rockport High School gym. It's messy.
But the Camden Board thinks it's a good idea. They are frantically having lawyers look for a way to tweak the zoning laws so that this latest bunch of opportunists can plunk their sorry selves and their sick, addicted clients right down in the center of our beautiful, peaceful little community.
Meanwhile, back at the funny farm, the "Shrink Brigade" has already purchased the Fox Hill property. The first time they submitted their proposal, there was a zoning issue. They pulled their plans and it appeared that they had left the area. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, they were back and bought the place.
What changed? Who would buy a place like that with the huge financial risk of not being able to open because of present town approved injunctions against such an operation? Would you? How do they know that the town board can change the rules?
There's something rotten in Camden, and it ain't the fish.
I am a bit confused about the re-zoning of Fox Hill to accommodate a rehab clinic. First it was simply a re-zoning issue for a future issue, but now it has taken on larger implications. The principals have now purchased the property and are seeking a rezoning ordinance for the future site of their alcohol and addiction clinic. By buying the property, it seems they are by-passing procedural steps and heading directly to construction for their clinic.
Do Camden residents truly wish to have a rehab center for alcohol and drug rehabilitation prominently situated in one of their residential zones? Personally, I doubt it, but I believe it must be brought to the ballot box for the citizens’ decision. The issue is too important to evade the democratic process.
Carefully consider the Board’s ignorance of the re-zoning process. According to the Herald, “Several planning board members noted they were not familiar with contract zoning.” Although that’s not reassuring,. Mr. Gibbons said “it is his intention to move forward with the special exemption” even though he “has no experience with existing contract laws.” Now ask yourself: can you accept the Board’s recommendation when some of them do not know the laws? Or others, like Mr Gibbon acknowledges, are willing to push this through with no experience in the matter?
So here we are, Citizens of Camden, relying on the future of our town by Board members who are making important decisions out of arrogance and ignorance. The Charter places “restrictions on the use of property that cannot be altered without town approval.” Yet it seems that our Board is doing everything it can to circumvent public opinion. The voters know what they want for their town and what their town should look like. Let the voters decide; let’s not leave it to a Board that seems to have another agenda.
And who is this rehab center going to benefit? Not us Maine residents, that seems clear. According to Dr. Amsel, the center’s patients are “expected to come from outside Maine.” With a price tag of $50-60,000, this rehab center will focus on the wealthy outsiders. Remember Maine ranks 32nd in the United States with a household income of $46,000. Most residents cannot afford this treatment, yet we are willing to allow our Board to rezone a residential area for the few outsiders who can afford it. Whom does this Board represent? Is it the special interest group that can afford this type of rehabilitation? Do they represent the people and town of Camden, preserving its New England Heritage and solving the problems that need solving?
We have our own sets of problems, including alcohol and drug addiction. If it wasn’t tragic, it would be laughable that, Dr. Amsel “is stunned by the amount of alcohol and addiction we have here [Maine}.” Yet his rehab center excludes the very people who need his services, except for a few alcohol scholarships he may consider offering to the locals. Nevertheless, Dr. Amsel is adamant that his rehab center “will be the best one in the country,” provided you can afford it.
So fellow citizens, what do we get for this rehab center? We get to rezone a residential area so that the historic flavor or features are permanently altered, maybe even ruined. We get a first class rehab center that most citizens have no possibility of ever using. The clinic, in order to appease some groups and gather additional support, plans on providing meals to the rehab patients from locally owned eateries
For a first class rehabilitation clinic, it seems that we receive very little or nothing at all by its presence. On the surface, it sets the foundation for future projects, so that they may sail through with ease. Look at the Frye House: demolished in hours. Let us return the future of our historic towns and neighborhoods back to the voters and the ballot box. I cannot, in good conscience, allow the future of our town and its historic districts to be ruined, altered, or changed by any Board that disregards its historic integrity or allows residential neighborhoods as avenues for questionable services and motives.