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Business park zone given final OK by Rockland council

By Stephen Betts | Jan 15, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts This section of Pleasant Street, to the left, is being rezoned for possible business park development.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council gave final approval Monday night, Jan. 14, to rezoning 20 acres off Pleasant Street for business park development.

No neighbors spoke at the meeting as the City Council voted 4-0 (Councilor Benjamin Dorr was absent) for the zone change. In previous meetings, numerous neighbors had voiced strong opposition, saying it could eventually wipe their historic residential neighborhood off the map.

Councilor Ed Glaser said the council has addressed most of the concerns of neighbors and would continue to take those concerns into account.

There are five contiguous privately-owned parcels on the south side of Pleasant Street that are currently a mix of Residential B and Transitional B 2 zones, which would become a business park zone under the proposed change.

The largest of the five parcels is nearly 12 acres owned by MaineHealth, where the home health office building sits. Another two are residential lots owned by Everett Mank. The Rockland Little League ballfield is another of the lots. Even if the zone is finalized, a ballfield will be an allowed use in the business park, meaning that the Little League can remain there, but if the association wants to move, the land could be developed for business use.

City Manager Tom Luttrell has previously said that while the city would not be creating a business park, the changes would allow a private developer to come in and create one. City officials have pointed out that there is a shortage of developable land in the city for commercial and light industrial uses.

At a meeting last month, a real estate agent said a technology company is interested in locating on some of the land, bringing 40 jobs to Rockland, if the zone change were approved.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Thomas Whiting | Jan 15, 2019 10:11

No neighbors spoke at the meeting, as it had become quite apparent to most of us through previous interactions with the city council that the zone change was already seen as a fait accompli, in their eyes. Personally, I had little doubt about the outcome, as this represents the 4th time the zone designation of the abutting property to mine has been changed by the city council to accommodate business interests since I have lived here.

I do wish, however, to sincerely thank council members Ed Glaser and Ben Dorr, as well as Community Development Director Julie Hashem for making the time in their busy schedules to actually come visit the location and view the proposed change from the perspective of the affected citizens, rather than to make an abstract decision based merely upon a map. Their willingness to make that kind of effort spoke volumes to me of their integrity in this matter.

Rockland is currently going through some growing pains, as the city seeks to fill the coffers for an ever expanding budget, while attempting to find the equilibrium between residential and business needs in our community. With considerate and thoughtful discourse from it's citizens, we hopefully should be able to chart an intelligent course into the unforeseeable future.

In my eyes, this zone change does indeed represent "the tip of the spear", as my neighbor Peter DiGirolamo so eloquently put it, regarding the direction the city is currently heading towards with their proposed citywide zone changes. I truly hope that the city deems they have gotten it right this time and we will not be presented with yet another zone change on the adjacent property in the future.

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