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Council gives initial approval to demolition moratorium

By Stephen Betts | Nov 10, 2020
279 Main St. in Rockland at the intersection of Park Drive.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council gave unanimous approval Nov. 9 to a six-month moratorium on demolishing buildings in the downtown.

But the Council postponed for a month a related ordinance that would prohibit commercial parking lots in the downtown.

At the Nov. 9 Council meeting, Councilor Ben Dorr asked the parking lot prohibition be postponed for one month to allow the city to talk with Crystal Darling, the owner of 279 Main St., for which the proposed ordinance is directed.

Darling has submitted a plan to the Rockland Planning Board to demolish bulk of the building at 279 Main St. — including where Park Street Grille has leased since 2004. The smaller southern section of the building where Frank's Family Hair Care and Breakwater Design & Build Inc. are leasing would remain standing.

In its place would be a fenced parking lot that would both serve the remaining tenants in the building and long-term leased spaces. The entrance to the lot would be on Main Street on the south side of the property at the property line with the Time Out Pub. The exit would be on Park Drive between where the existing building is and where the Lighthouse Museum building is located.

The Planning Board has ruled the application complete and plans on a site walk of the property Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 4:30 p.m. to be followed by a formal public hearing and vote on the project at 5:15 p.m.

Councilor Valli Geiger said such a demolition and the creation of a parking lot would be "breaking the norm," and would go against the vision for the downtown.

Councilor Nate Davis said it was unfair to change the rules for a business owner after they have submitted plans. He agreed he would rather not having a parking lot there but the unfairness of the timing of the change bothers him.

Councilor Ed Glaser said the current ordinances fail the community.

While the parking lot prohibition is on hold, councilors unanimously agreed to a six-month moratorium on demolition in the downtown zone. The building is located in that zone.

A formal public hearing and final vote on the moratorium is scheduled for Dec. 14. The Council could also vote on the parking lot prohibition at the Dec. 14 meeting.

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Comments (13)
Posted by: Gregory D Kibitz | Nov 12, 2020 02:43

Declare the property an historical landmark. Problem solved.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Nov 11, 2020 11:03

We could use a couple of benches on South Main where these jacked up truck jockeys really put the pedal  to the metal. After AMHI was closed  people need a place to sit and Mao St Rockland was a good place as any.

Posted by: Ronald Dyer | Nov 11, 2020 10:47

Mr. Carroll's suggestion on the moratorium on benches reminds me of an earlier time when the city put benches on Main Street (really nice granite ones in some case) then the merchants and others decided they needed to go because the wrong classes of people were sitting on them. :)

Ron Dyer

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Nov 11, 2020 08:23

I am proposing the council consider a moratorium on park benches in the downtown district. There's just too many and are an eyesore especially when the people sit on them to watch the truck races down Main street.  This may seem silly to you but not nearly as silly as the reactive nature of the City Council to everything happening in town.  Why not ditch the assistant code officer and hire a city planner and in-house attorney.  For 2021 let's get a team that tells us all we can do instead of  a code officer telling us what we can't.  This would also be a good time to limit new hires to the police dept..  We should eliminate  the overnight bog patrols and get the officers out of the cruisers and onto the neighborhood streets. Next year maybe we could be pro-active not re-active.

Posted by: Debra Damon | Nov 11, 2020 08:17

Why only demolish part of it. Park Street Grill has been there since 2004, and many people from surrounding towns come there to eat. It's sad to see to think there will no longer be a Park Street Grill here if Crystal does this. If the place was maintained over the years it wouldn't be in the state it is. She sold the Black Pearl and Conte's, so why not invest in this building and make it better?

Posted by: Jeannie L. Wood | Nov 11, 2020 06:56

Morning Francis, not a bad day @ all , just feel bad for people in Rockland that seem to get jerked around alot by the made up rules as you go along. Steve i have read some of it & your right you'd have to be a lawyer to understand it & I'm sure that is why it's written the way it is & no I'm not from away, I'm a town or two over. Thank you Jake for your input short & to the point. S.Wood

Posted by: Peter Peno | Nov 11, 2020 05:19

Making up rules on a case by case basis is very devisive.   Can't you write a comprehensive plan for the future that would share the community's vision?  This current defiant act seems shameful.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Nov 10, 2020 18:02

Scott if you call city hall they will be happy to send you a complementary copy of the "out-of-towners" guide.  It's long and difficult to understand, but if you're "from away" you may be able to follow it after you have had a couple of drinks.  Especially read the chapter on moratoriums.  We have had many over the years from gas plants to pot stores.  Sure you'll find it an interesting read, but please don't try to make sense of it, no one who lives here has been able to.

Posted by: Jake Barbour | Nov 10, 2020 17:53

We have parking lots all over the downtown zone. I have one.  Amazing how the City just makes things up as they go along depending on how they feel at the moment with no regard for existing ordinances. If the City Council wants to stop this and in a certain effect seize the property the city needs to pony up and compensate the owner. Maybe we need to get rid of all code and let the City Council render each decision individually.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Nov 10, 2020 16:42

Bad day at work Scott?

Posted by: Jeannie L. Wood | Nov 10, 2020 14:22

I'm not from Rockland, but I do see alot of rules get made up as you go along. No set rules in Rockland until someone wants to do some good. Rockland has bashed this women ever since she wanted to make a better restaurant @ the public landing & get rid of that eye sore Conta's & lord & behold the rules change @  Rocklands click of the finger ( the road that some how the city took over ) did they give back any money from over payment of taxes they might of paid over the years for something the city took ? I doubt it. I'm just glad I don't live there. A parking lot would be nice if the city of Rockland decides to do the same cluster &^%$ they did this summer on main street. That was great for all the restaurants I'm sure Rockland got a lot of praise for that brain storm. S.Wood

Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Nov 10, 2020 12:32

My how things have changed. Back in the old days if someone wanted a building gone it mysteriously got struck by lightning and went up in smoke like the old Samoset Hotel and Holmes Packing did.

Posted by: Doug Curtis Jr. | Nov 10, 2020 11:56

Question: If this goes into effect and Rockland locks in its tax base on April 1st 2021 how does that affect the property owner?

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