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Planning board approves Music Academy move, dance studio; mobile home park expansion moves forward

By Daniel Dunkle | Aug 28, 2020
In a light moment in the Rockport Planning Board meeting Vanessa Knause raises her hands in triumph after gaining approval for her dance studio. “Thanks for choosing Rockport,” adds Chair Joe Sternowski.

Rockport — Rockport is only gaining ground as an arts center in the Midcoast as the planning board approved Aug. 27 new locations for both the Midcoast Music Academy and dance instruction business Studio RED.

Vanessa Knause was so happy with her dance studio’s approval that she raised her hands over her head in triumph during the meeting by Zoom.

“Thanks for choosing Rockport,” Chair Joe Sternowski said to her.

The meeting started with discussion of the preliminary application to expand the Rockport Mobile Home Park at 1110 Commercial St. (Route 1), formerly the Patterson Mobile Home Community.

Joel Lufkin, of Landmark Corporation Surveyors and Engineers, walked the board through the plans to add 12 new double-wide units to the park, which will necessitate adding new access roads and changing existing ones.

The park currently has 25 single-wide mobile homes and one house with access off Route 1 via Elizabeth Street. The project will involve changes to the entrance road and improvements to the wastewater system.

The project had come before the planning board previously in 2006 and gained approval, but had never been completed and that approval has since expired.

Sternowski said in the previous vetting before the board, the debate had centered around what to do with the forested green space on the property. At the time some argued to clear it to create a common area for residents.

The board voted to find that the preliminary application was satisfactory and complete, but the project still needs to come back to the planning board with a final plan for approval.

The board plans a site visit Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. with a rain date of the following day at the same time. The project is expected to come back to the board for its Sept. 24 meeting.

This project is a subdivision application submitted by owners, Rockport MHP LLC.

Next on the agenda was The Midcoast Music Academy, which is moving from its present location in Rockland to 821 Commercial St. (Route 1) in Rockport.

Executive Director Jen Feldman said the academy, which started in 2012, has needed a new space for some time, but the COVID pandemic “forced our hands timing wise.”

The building is part of a condo association (Oakland Commons Office Complex) among a group of doctor’s offices. She said the new space is better in terms of safety and ventilation.

The academy provides instruction for children and adults in a variety of instruments including piano, violins, bass, guitar, trumpet, ukulele, and voice. It provides both individual and group instruction.

The planned hours for the new location are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, and 3 to 7 p.m. on Fridays.

There are six instructors, an office manager and Feldman. The new space is 2,330 square feet.

No renovations are planned for the outside of the building.

Next up was Knause with plans to move her dance school, Studio RED, from its present location on Warrenton Street (Riley School) to 509 Rockland St. (Route 17).

This new location has been headquarters for Schooner Bay Limo and Taxi and offers 6,600 square feet of space. Schooner Bay has not returned phone calls to comment on how this affects its business.

The dance school started 12 years ago and serves children ages two to 18 with classes Monday to Friday, 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The plan is for two classes at once, serving 15 students each. There are two part-time employees.

Knause said the pandemic has limited what they can do in their present space and the new space will allow her to provide instruction safely to more students.

The school teaches tumbling, hip-hop, ballet and other dance styles.

The planning board approved her change of use.

The planning board also discussed the Ground Mounted Solar Energy System Ordinance, which is being drafted. This is an ordinance to allow solar farms in rural districts, subject to setback, height, screening, maintenance, safety and decommissioning requirements, as well as Planning Board approval.

Joel Lufkin of Landmark Corporation Surveyors and Engineers walks the planning board through plans for a mobile home park expansion.
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