Neighbors take legal action against Fox Hill
Camden — Neighbors of 235 Bay View St. filed a declaratory judgment action March 27 in federal court aimed at investors in the property and McLean Hospital.
Fox Hill Real Estate LLC and McLean spent nearly a year working with the Planning Board to create wording for a special exception to zoning to allow McLean to establish a 12-patient residential alcohol treatment facility on the 13-acre property. The special exception did not move beyond the select board and investors on Feb. 26 announced a scaled-down plan to establish an eight patient rehabilitation center under a Community Living Arrangement law.
The neighbors are seeking a federal judgment "to determine that McLean's proposed commercial rehabilitation operation at Fox Hill in not subject to FHA protection for purposes of Maine's 'community living arrangement' law," according to a news release from the group of neighbors.
In addition, the plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief to stop and further development of the property as a residential treatment center.
Attorney David Burger of Robinson Brog Leinwand Greene Genovese & Gluck P.C. has been hired to represent neighbors. He did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Attorney Paul Gibbons, who represents Fox Hill investors, is out of town and could not be reached for comment.
According to court documents, the plaintiffs in the case are Undercliff Cottage LLC, The Phelan 2006 Family Trust, Charles and Julie Cawley, Parker S. Laite Sr. and Friends of Camden Maine LLC. Court documents also list Rockport attorney Dana Strout as an attorney for the plaintiffs.
The Cawleys are former owners of the Fox Hill property and now live nearby; they own properties at 270, 274 and 315 Bay View St. According to court documents, Undercliff Cottage LLC is the owner of 221 Bay View St. — listed in online assessing records as owned by Leonard Abramson — The Phelan Family trust is owner of 174 Bay View St., and Laite is listed as an officer of Friends of Camden Maine LLC. The Friends of Camden group, according to court documents, is a limited liability company comprised of real estate owners in Camden.
Court documents address concerns about invocation of the community living arrangement law, which allows up to eight people with disabilities to live in the same residence. Camden's Town Attorney William Kelly concurred with the assessment from investors that the CLA as proposed would comply with state law and the Federal Fair Housing Act, though he did cite limited knowledge of the updated plan. The documents also cite increased noise and traffic on narrow, winding Bay View Street as a concern, all of which have been voiced throughout the municipal process. Plaintiffs in the case question if the anticipated wealthy clients served by the facility fall into the category of handicap or disabled.
In addition, plaintiffs question if there is indeed an agreement in place between Fox Hill investors and McLean Hospital to lease the property. Fox Hill investor H. Thompson Rodman and McLean Hospital's Philip Levendusky both previously said during a public hearings there is an agreement between investors and the hospital but it has not been released publicly.
Investors have argued there are no zone changes or special permits aside from a building permit for renovations needed from the town as the facility would be treated as a single-family residence. McLean would be licensed by the state. The property is located in the Coastal-Residential District and the plaintiffs note CLAs are not an allowed use in that district. According to Camden's zoning ordinance, CLAs are allowed in five other districts in town – Village Extension, Traditional Village, Highway Business, Transitional Business and Neighborhood Service districts.
Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.