About 20 residents accompanied by two lawyers turned out at the May 4 Rockland Planning Board meeting in opposition to the proposed expansion of the Bartlett House.

The board ultimately asked the developer to return in two weeks with additional information.

Rockland Code Enforcement Officer John Root said two of the legal issues raised by attorneys Paul Gibbons and Frederick Newcomb were whether the division of the property where the elderly housing project is located was properly approved, and also whether the proposed addition meets the city ordinance on the number of stories for that zone.

The Bartlett House, located off upper Talbot Avenue, opened in 1998 with 34 apartments for elderly residents. The organization wants to add 24 new apartments, saying the demand for the service is needed.

The residents who rent the existing apartments, however, have come out against the expansion. Resident Doug Vedoe hired Newcomb last fall to represent him when expansion plans were first announced.

Thirty-six of the residents of the Bartlett House signed a petition in opposition, saying that when they moved into the complex they were assured there would be no expansion. They cited a brochure from Bartlett Woods management that stated: “We feel that it is a great advantage to keep Bartlett Woods the size that it is; it helps us to provide more personalized care.”

The petition also stated that during construction, residents could expect 10 months of a major disturbance in their lives including noise and commotion from tractors, delivery trucks, earth moving equipment, air tools and hammers, and banging, which would be an “undue stress and create an unhealthy environment for this group of aged senior citizens for a significant portion of our expected longevity.”

Last month, William Ginn, the chairman of the Bartlett Woods Board of Directors, said that no decision had been made by the board of directors to proceed with the project. He said he expected a decision by summer.

Ginn also said last month that while the board is sensitive to the concerns of residents, the overriding concern is whether Bartlett Woods should expand so that more individuals can benefit from the approach offered by the facility. He said the decision would rest on whether the expansion makes financial sense and whether the additional units would be in demand. The board chairman said he also does not believe the disruption would be as severe as some residents expect. He said the main construction would take only three to four months. The application filed with the city states the expansion would be completed in nine months.

Other Planning Board items

At the Planning Board’s May 4 meeting, the plan for a 900-square-foot addition to the AIO Food Pantry at 70 Thomaston St. was approved.

The board also found that the application by Bebo LLC (O’Hara Corp.) for converting the 20 New County Road building into warehousing, and interior boat storage and repair was complete. The board will tour the property Tuesday, May 18 at 6 p.m. followed by a public hearing at 7 p.m. at city hall.