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Habitat readies to rebuild Rockland neighborhood

By Stephen Betts | Oct 07, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts A sewer line is being extended up Philbrick Avenue in Rockland to allow for the development of 12 small homes.

Rockland — The rebirth of a a once-vibrant Rockland neighborhood is about to commence.

The city is installing a sewer line from Camden Street up the hill on Philbrick Avenue to the property owned by Midcoast Habitat for Humanity. The lack of a connection to the public sewer system has held back redevelopment of the dead-end street on the west side of Camden Street.

The Rockland Planning Board gave final approval Sept. 17 to Habitat's plan to build 12 one- and two-bedroom homes of between 650 and 850 square feet.

Most of the lots in the Philbrick Commons subdivision will be slightly less than 6,000 square feet.

Habitat purchased the approximately 2.5-acre parcel in January 2017 for $105,000 from the estate of Madeline Philbrick. The property includes both sides of the road and abuts the Pen Bay Acres subdivision.

In the summer of 2012, 13 homes and several sheds that were located on the street were demolished. The homes all had septic systems that had long since failed. The city had attempted on a few occasions since the 1980s to get grants to extend a public sewer line to the property, but was unsuccessful.

The former homes had been built by Eugene Philbrick, the grandfather of Madeline Philbrick.

In a 2012 interview, Madeline Philbrick recalled the neighborhood fondly. She lived on the street for a few years in the late 1920s, attending a small school nearby on Camden Street.

“Those were good days. It was a dead-end street and children could play in the street. You were close to everything,” Philbrick recalled.

Philbrick died in December 2016 at the age of 96.

A specific date for groundbreaking has not been announced, but is expected this fall.

The Rockland City Council unanimously approved a contract zone for the development in March 2019. A contract zone was needed because the residential development will have smaller lot sizes, reduced road frontage and smaller minimum house sizes than current zoning allows.

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Comments (6)
Posted by: Bethany Rebekah Boivin | Oct 08, 2019 11:57

I spent my teenage years living on this street in the house that was formerly the Parsonage for the church. (Last one still standing on the right before the property to be developed.) Many members of my family lived on this street in those Philbrick houses including my grandparents, Aunt and Uncle, cousins and my siblings as they got older. It holds so many wonderful memories for the years we spent there. I am so happy to see it being revitalized!!!

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Oct 08, 2019 09:27

I agree with you Stephen.  In this case, I do agree that changing the sq. ft. of a house is well worth it.  We need more housing such as this one.  Don, no need to be nasty.



Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Oct 08, 2019 08:20

This is a worth while project that will serve to show the critiques that small home intown communities will work in Rockland. I am just saddened that the city and planning board dragged their feet all summer when they could have installed this sewer line and allowed construction to commence much earlier.  We are now way late in the season and only have a few weeks of "bad weather" to pour cement and get started before the freezing weather hits.  Based on my experience October is the worse time to start a building project because you are chasing the clock to get the building closed in before snow hits.  Shame on you Rockland and Planning board for unnecessarily delaying this project.

Posted by: Don Dickinson | Oct 07, 2019 23:57

Your same question was addressed two years ago when this project was first introduced. Did you not read the last paragraph of this article reference contract zones?

Posted by: Stephen Betts | Oct 07, 2019 17:59

This was a contract zone which allows this size house for this specific property.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Oct 07, 2019 17:08

My take was that the City of Rockland had a minimum sq. ft. size when building houses.  It is 750 sq. ft. Did something change in the cities laws that change the minimum sq ft. recently?


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