The Rockport Planning board gave the green light to Pen Bay Medical Center May 8 to build a seven bed hospice house on its Route 1 campus.

The planning board approved the application with a vote of 6-1, but some concern was raised as to future development of the site.

Board member Thomas Murphy stated during the meeting the lack of representation from the hospital to speak on the “bigger picture” made him feel uncomfortable voting in favor of the project.

Chairman Kerry Leichtman said he felt the failure of the hospital to share information on any future plans for its land was one reason the meetings regarding the hospice house hadn’t gone as well as they could have. This week marked the third time WBRC Architects presented the plan to the planning board. On March 13 and again April 10, the firm was asked to make changes and address concerns ranging from the location of the entrance to the facility to parking spaces and gardens.

Most recently, concerns were raised by Rockport Police Chief Mark Kelley about a construction entrance to the site that will be maintained as an emergency exit after completion of the hospice. Kelly also questioned the placement of a gate at the entrance. Previously, concerns about traffic flow on Route 1 and parking were also mentioned.

Paul Monyok, engineer for WBRC Architects, met with Kelley to address the concerns. The firm then commissioned a traffic study. The study showed the two-phase lighting at the entrance to the hospital is adequate for the flow of traffic and the access road to be built for construction and emergency purposes would not created negative impacts.

Monyok said changes to placement of a gate for the access road will be made and he has added room for an additional 10 parking spaces.

Board approval came with the conditions that the first part of the access road from Route 1 be topped with gravel and have proper signage.

Murphy also expressed concern about the secondary access road and said he believes it is part of a larger agenda by the hospital to change the entrance location in the future.

"At some point, the hospital would like to make its entrance a little easier to find," Monyok said during the March meeting.

Rockport Town Planner Tom Ford addressed the concerns as well, stating moving the entrance location would not be allowed.

“The MDOT will simply not allow that to happen,” Ford said. “They [MDOT] would not put another light so close to the existing one, it just won’t happen.”

The hospital plans to construct a 9,740-square-foot, seven bed facility on the northwest corner of the 63-acre campus to house the hospice facility.

The planning board also approved 7-0 an application from Brenan Black for a site plan review for a change of use from residential to commercial zoning to accommodate a renewable energy business located at 1126 Commercial St.

In new business, the board received an application from Will Dennett and Jen Iott for a site plan review pre-application meeting to operate a tradesman's shop for Aurora Sails and Canvas on a lot located on Park Street.

Camden Herald reporter Dwight Collins can be reached at 236-8511 or dcollins@courierpublicationsllc.com.