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Rockland Council gives final approval for regional nursing home zone

Old County Road project will now go before Planning Board
By Stephen Betts | Sep 14, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts Engineer Michael Sabatini holds concept plans during a July 7 meeting of the Rockland Planning Board for the proposed nursing home to be located off Old County Road, Rockland.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council gave final approval to a contract zone with the developer of a regional nursing home that would replace the Knox Center in Rockland and the nursing section of Quarry Hill in Camden.

The Sept. 14 vote was unanimous after several changes were made to the contract zone for the land off Old County Road near the Rockport town line. The next step is for developer Sandy River to submit formal plans for the nursing home project to the Rockland Planning Board.

"As the population of Rockland ages, if we do not allow this to go forward, this would be a missed opportunity," Councilor Ben Dorr said.

Councilor Valli Geiger said she visited a similar nursing home built by Sandy River Company in Brunswick and that it was beautiful and looked residential. She said the one-story nursing home would not be a huge monolith. She also said there was no noise from the Brunswick facility's heating and cooling system.

Several neighbors repeated their opposition to the contract zone. Neighbor Susan Barbour claimed the change would not be legal since the contract zone would not conform to the city's comprehensive plan.

Barbour said Pen Bay Medical Center was coming into the residential neighborhood and would ruin the neighborhood.

The Council approved amendments at the Sept. 14 meeting, developed by Councilors Nate Davis and Ed Glaser, for the contract zone. That includes increasing the setback of any building to 50 feet from the property line; that a public walking trail be removed from the plan; install noise mitigation to the heating, air conditioning, and ventilation system; limit blasting during construction to 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and that a peer-reviewed traffic study be done at Sandy River's expense.

The new nursing home would be taxable with a development cost of about $20 million. The amount of property taxes from the center would be about $300,000 annually.

City Manager Tom Luttrell said the only way the city is able to limit or reduce tax increases was for development.

The center would be located on 29 acres that Sandy Rivers owns on Cranberry Isles Drive which is located off the east side of Old County Road near the Rockport town line.

Coastal Healthcare Alliance — which operates Pen Bay Medical Center, the Knox Center and Quarry Hill — have said that operating the Knox Center is not financially sustainable. The new home would have private rooms which residents and families want.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Sep 15, 2020 11:24

FALSE NEWS : "City Manager Tom Luttrell said the only way the city is able to limit or reduce tax increases was for development."  Right, Mr. Carroll?   :)

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