Letters, Camden Herald
I am writing in reference to the article written by Sarah E. Reynolds in the Jan. 16th paper about relocating a small portion of Fernalds Neck Road which leads to the conservation trust property and parking lot of the Fernalds Neck Preserve in Lincolnville.
The main reason for wanting moving the road is simple - the safety of our grandchildren and others. It is surprising and quite ironic the speed with which many Preserve visitors come up a small sharp incline right in front of our house to reach a common quiet place. The top of this hill is completely out of sight to approaching drivers and departing visitors are blind to what is below. This has become a real threat to our grandchildren, guests and ourselves. The proposed new section of road would simply bypass this blind spot area curve through a flatter field with no visual obstructions.
We must apologize for and correct one sentence in the article. We were informed by a company hired by the previous owner that the project had been approved in the past and not by the previous owner himself. The selectmen informed us that this was not the case
We will continue to study the possibilities as advised by our selectmen. In the meantime if you are coming to walk or hike in the Preserve please slow down.
Gladys B. Kuli
It has been an honor
It has been a great honor to serve the residents of Maine House District #44, Islesboro, Lincolnville, Morrill, Searsmon, Liberty, Hope and Appleton as their State Representative to the Legislature.
It is my decision not to seek this office in the upcoming elections.
The choices a person makes must be true to his or her own self. It may seem selfish to some but at this point in life it seems that spending time with my immediate family is most important. My wife and I have been blessed with three great children, five grandchildren and many friends. Now is our time to step back and cherish every moment.
Serving all of my constituents has been extremely important to me. It was important to me that I answer all and listen even if not always in total agreement. This I think I have done to the best of my ability. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of calls, emails and personal contacts have been dealt with as they have come along. Others have told me to concentrate on the work at the State House only, but that isn’t me.
Each contact was an opportunity to make a new friend, not always in agreement, but a friend no less.
Your leaders today and in the future have many difficult choices, Government is shrinking, as it rightly should. Yet, the difficulty is that it is shrinking not by well thought out planning and agreement, but by the forces of the well being overspent. At all levels of government cuts are being made, many not pleasant.
As we, you and I and future leaders we must trust one another and communicate, communicate, and communicate. Your representatives at all levels must here from you.
Be engaged, be active in town government, local boards, volunteer groups and or in your schools.
People are often telling me they don’t get involved in politics. Bunk, each day we all have different thoughts ideas and opinions than others yet we get along. That compromise, agreement, give and take is politics. The greatest example of politics is family, we bring out different thoughts, debate, win and lose debates and still work together.
Once again, thank you all for this fantastic opportunity of serving you!
Jethro D. Pease
State Representative District 44
I am deeply committed to being a mental health provider in the Town of Camden. I have an individual private practice in the Knox Mill Complex. I also live on 62 Fox Trail. When I hear that McLean Hospital is interested in opening a chemical dependency residential treatment facility in the Town of Camden, I am excited at the possibility. I also concerned that NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) will thwart this possibility. As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, I specialize in alcohol and drug outpatient treatment. When I evaluate the available treatment services, there is a paucity of residential services. The need is so great for residential treatment that people travel all over the country to access this service.
Maine is no different than the rest of the country. We have mental health services and chemical dependency services, but they are services that are difficult find and access. When people need these services they have to queue up in line and wait for the next available opening. People who suffer from mental health problems and chemical dependency problems present with complex problems that need a sophisticated level of professionalism to succeed in managing their issues. McLean Hospital would provide an increase in awareness and resources that would benefit the town of Camden, as well as, Knox County.
The statistics in Maine for those who suffer from alcohol, drugs, and mental health problems varies, but a general rule of thumb is two in 10 or 20 percent. This is true for the general population of the United States. This means that when you are in a group at the Snow Bowl, grocery store, church services, performances, planning board, or select board there is a good chance that you are next to an individual who suffers from these diseases. Our culture is slow in recognizing mental illness and chemical dependency as a disease. Many still think these people are weak, don’t care, and they are undesirable to have around. This is one way of understanding why so many people who suffer from these diseases are silent in our communities. The opposition to Fox Hill saddens me for they speak negatively of those who suffer from these diseases. The stigma drives them underground and out of sight, but they are still 20 percent of the community. Many work in our community. Many vacation in our community. Many invest in our community. To gain an understanding of the impact to our communities look at the local and national news. People are struggling to manage these issues in their lives. Residential treatment is a vital service to the people of our community.
There are mental health and chemical dependency services in Maine. For a poor rural state, Maine does a good job in trying to help. The problem is the need is so much greater than the available services. There are residential treatment services for those who suffer from chemical dependency issues. The problem is there is always a waiting list. McLean Hospital will help alleviate this problem. The 12 beds proposed is small but every additional bed counts. Some argue the price tag is only for the rich. My experience in working with those who need residential services and want residential services, a price tag is often the last of an individual’s concern. Residential services are expensive, but the cost of not getting residential services when it is needed is even higher.
The planning board did its job by recognizing that the application deserves further review by the select board. I write this letter to support the Fox Hill development to be a residential treatment facility. The comprehensive plan recognizes “light commercial” in the neighborhood of Fox Hill. A residential treatment facility is a light impact, low visibility enterprise. I would argue that Fox Hill fits the current zoning requirements, and there is no need for a change in zoning. Unfortunately, this residential treatment facility is viewed differently than other light commercial businesses.
During the planning board meeting many opponents exceeded the focus and the purpose of meeting to complain about the dangers of Fox Hill. Some complained that the zoning exception is a dangerous precedence. Some saw the demise of our community. Some said they have no problem with a residential treatment facility, but not there. Some were willing to accuse the investors of wanting to make money for themselves. Some thought the neighborhood would suffer its charm to the seasonal residents. I applaud the foot soldiers of the Recovery movement to remind the opponents to Fox Hill the issue at hand is the recovery of individuals from the diseases of chemical dependency and mental illness.
Treatment for alcohol, drugs and mental illness are a necessary part of our society. I have dedicated my career to this endeavor. I welcome a McLean Hospital. I am grateful for their willingness to persevere through this process. Many businesses would have moved on by this time. Many businesses do not want such a slow process from planning board to select board. Many businesses are accustomed to being turned down in the process. They move on to new ventures. The investors and McLean Hospital understand that residential treatment provokes many distorted and fear based views. I appreciate the vision of these parties to maintain a consistent presence to open a business that is good for the community, and aimed at saving lives from those who suffer from debilitating diseases.
Bay View Street is changing. The street closest to downtown is a construction zone of new housing. These homes fit within the zoning regulations, but they are altering the character of the street. The zoning change that Fox Hill is requesting will preserve the far end of Bay View Street from these unsavory changes. If this zoning change does not make it, I suspect the investors will look to the beginning of Bay View Street for ideas. That would benefit very few. Fox Hill has the purpose of helping those in need and this altruistic aim fits into my idea of a community, a society, and a human being.
I encourage the select board to let the voters decide this important decision. The controversy has heated and the democratic process needs to play out in full, all the way to voters of Camden.
Paul J Kemberling, LCPC
Increase year-round employment
I am writing to ask that the Camden Select Board please recommend that the narrowly written zoning change that will allow McLean Hospital to operate a residential recovery center at Fox Hill be put on the June ballot for Camden voters to decide.
I have been a Camden resident for 35 years and I have seen this town change from a vibrant year-round place to work and raise young families into more of a summer colony, and a home for well-to-do retirees. If McLean hospital is allowed in to our community, we will have taken a strong step to increase year-round employment, and attract young families to locate here, as my husband and I did in 1978.
Why all this hostility and fear-based anger toward McLean coming to Camden? It does not make sense. McLean wants to locate here because Fox Hill is a quiet and private residential setting. If that is what they are seeking, does it make any sense to claim that they will somehow change the character or value of the neighborhood? This Fox Hill proposal will actually preserve the neighborhood because that is what they want to offer their clients; i.e., peace and quiet. Fox Hill will be like it is with less traffic and construction than has been there in the past, and most certainly less than what would be there in the future! If developers buy it and build 10 or more McMansions, which could potentially be built there without any zoning change at all, then that environment will most certainly change!
In addition, this zoning change will not open any doors to any other wholesale changes to other residents, and to say so is plainly misleading. Look at how diligent our Planning Board was before they passed it to the Select Board with a vote of 4 to 1 in favor of having the Select Board consider the change. Any other organization seeking zoning change would have to go through the same exacting and demanding review process as McLean Hospital has.
I also want to say that I am familiar with McLean’s history and performance. This is a Harvard Affiliate Teaching Hospital with a commitment to assist every community in which they have ever been located. I sense this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Camden.
Let’s put this on the ballot. And, please, let's stop over-dramatizing a thoughtful and innovative change to our (hopefully) growing, evolving, and beautiful town.
Support zoning change
My name is Jack Deupree. I have lived in Camden for 22 years, own property, pay taxes, and vote here. I’ve been on our School Board, the Parks & Recreation Committee, the Budget Committee; and have helped with the Teen Center and the YMCA. I write in support of the special zoning addition to allow a residential rehabilitation center at Fox Hill. I agree those who say this would be a better use of the property than subdividing it, that a residential rehabilitation facility would bring year 'round activity to an area that needs it; and I want to be supportive of recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism.
The purpose of this letter is to voice support for our Planning Board's 4 to 1 vote of in favor of recommending that our Select Board consider placing the matter on the Town of Camden's June ballot. In the Planning Board Meetings, many of the speakers, as well as the Board members, recommended that the people of Camden should decide this issue. I hope that the Select Board will feel the same. A Select Board decision to place this matter on the June ballot is not necessarily a decision for or against this project. They would simply be saying that they are in favor letting the voters decide the issue. On the other hand, if the Select Board does not place the matter on the ballot, are they not saying that they should decide against this matter instead of letting all of us vote on it?
This project represents an important opportunity for our town. No matter how you feel about it, please ask our select board to let us all decide! Thank you.
Don't risk a lawsuit
The purpose of this letter is to implore the Camden Select Board not to follow the same path as the Portland City Council did with the Williston-West Church. After the city spent countless dollars and nineteen months in litigation, the Maine Superior Court held that the special arrangement between the City Council and a foreign investor violated Portland’s comprehensive plan and was inconsistent with the residential neighborhood in which the church was located. The facts and circumstances of the Portland case are strikingly similar to the Fox Hill proposal, with the exception that Camden does not even allow conditional zoning agreements in the first place. As we repeatedly informed the Planning Board, the Fox Hill proposal is nothing more than a request for special treatment that violates Camden’s comprehensive plan and zoning code, greatly diminishes the value of the surrounding homes, places all of Camden’s neighborhoods at risk of commercial development and is unnecessary to begin with.
Camden already allows for hospitals to be located in the B-2 and B-3 zones, and McLean would certainly be welcome to build a suitable rehabilitation facility there. Please do not risk burdening the taxpayers who elected you with the expense of defending a lawsuit, when the chances of a court victory are slim at best, and the benefits of such victory are speculative, accruing mostly to a small group of investors from outside of Camden. It would be a waste of Camden’s precious resources, both financial and reputation.
Philip D. Fowler, III
A brilliant idea
My name is Joe Cooper. I own a home in Camden and am a year-round resident of Maine. I am also an investor in the Fox Hill Property.
I have been involved in real estate investment my entire career. When Fox Hill came to the market for sale I visited the property several times as a potential purchaser. My interest was to sub-divide and develop the property. During my review of the property it was sold and subsequently I was invited to invest in the property to create a residential recovery center that will be operated by the finest psychiatric hospital in the country. I thought the idea was brilliant. I felt Tom Rodman was personally passionate about the endeavor and it was a far better use than a residential development site. I felt Fox Hill was an ideal location to provide recovery services to those in need. Fox Hill’s privacy, beauty and infrastructure located in the peaceful town of Camden seemed like an ideal fit for this creative idea.
I support the zoning change that will allow the Harvard Medical School Affiliate, McLean Hospital, to operate a residential recovery center at Fox Hill. I am certain that this zoning change will not negatively affect any of the other properties in this zone or other properties in Camden. I further believe that the change of use for Fox Hill into a small recovery facility servicing only 12 patients will be a less intensive use than how it has been utilized in the past and will be a less intrusive use to the neighborhood than the current zoning allows via allowing new residential development at the site.
Fox Hill is an estate that appears to have been built to entertain large groups. It has a bowling alley, extensive game rooms, a hair salon, a replica of a New York style diner on site, guest homes, offices, a movie theater and an approximate 70 car garage. The infrastructure is reported as approximately 60,000 square feet and the driveway to get to the main home is a winding road that is far removed from Bay View Street. The proposed recovery center will have a minimal footprint on this gigantic estate and the neighborhood as it will serve a maximum of 12 patients at the estate. I attended gatherings at the estate held by the previous owner and there were at least one hundred attendees at these affairs. The property was also rented out for weddings during the previous ownership that I imagine generated far more traffic and noise than a 12 patient recovery center will generate. A recovery center at Fox Hill will be a peaceful retreat for patients in need and thus parties and events that previously generated noise and traffic from Fox Hill will no longer exist.
The town Of Camden has an opportunity to welcome McLean, welcome much needed professional jobs, receive an economic boost from this new business, and to make available outstanding medical and psychiatric services to recovering substance abuse patients in a tranquil environment in our town. I don’t believe zone changes should be taken lightly. However, this zone change will greatly benefit the town of Camden and, in my opinion will have minimal to no impact on the neighborhood. The opponents have cited spot zoning, traffic issues, and allowing commercial endeavors in this residential neighborhood as some of their primary concerns to this zone change. As a matter to note, the current zoning ordinance does allow special exceptions for commercial uses such as day care centers, nursery schools and golf courses. The zoning amendment proposed by Fox Hill is quite limiting to protect the interests of the neighborhood and I don’t feel the use proposed would affect the neighborhood any differently than the existing commercial exceptions.
I believe the recovery center that is being proposed at Fox Hill will offer at its core a peaceful, healthy environment for its patients and via this need for its patients will also respect the tranquility of the current neighborhood and be a wonderful neighbor.
Please support the zone change and let’s take this matter to a town vote.
The buck stops with selectmen
Our town is a democracy; we elected you to represent us. As elected representatives, it’s your job to make a determination about what is best for all of Camden.
It is not fair or democratic to subject a minority of people, who would be immediately and irreparably affected by this proposal, to a popular vote. The majority of Camden’s citizens probably do not realize the far-reaching implications of their vote, may not have given the matter much thought, and can easily be manipulated by outside investors making grand campaign promises.
Moreover, how could you possibly expect the citizenry to have a solid understanding of over 400 pages of Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinances, and 72 lines of changes to our Coastal Residential Zone ordinance - when even the lawyers on both sides are struggling to grasp and explain them?
The average citizens hasn’t and won’t ever take the time to learn what is in our approved zoning, let alone the far reaching implications of this rather dramatic proposed change. That’s your job.
The buck stops with you five elected representatives — I'm confident you'll all do the right thing and reject this proposal!
Parker S.Laite Sr.