Rockland couple asks for postponement of challenge to group home

By Stephen Betts | Feb 11, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts Walls on the Coastal Opportunities group home off Limerock Street in Rockland are taking shape.

Rockland — A couple who live adjacent to the site of a group home being built for adults with developmental disabilities have asked that their appeal of the issuance of the building permit be put on hold.

The attorney for George Stephens and Kathryn Westra notified the city that the couple wanted to postpone the scheduled Feb. 13 hearing before the Rockland Zoning Board of Appeals.

Attorney P. Andrew Hamilton of Bangor said Friday, Feb. 8, he had no comment at this time on the reason for the postponement. The appeal has not been withdrawn.

Construction of Coastal Opportunities' 8,896-square-foot, one-story home at 190 Limerock St., adjacent to the Rockland Congregational Church, continues. Walls are being erected.

The couple filed the appeal Dec. 18. The attorney claimed the "large scale and intensive institutional type of development fails to protect the existing density and character of the surrounding residential neighborhood."

The project did not require review by the Rockland Planning Board, according to the city's code office, because state law classifies group homes of eight beds or fewer as community living arrangements, which must be treated as single-family homes. Single-family homes do not require review or approval by the Planning Board.

The attorney, however, claimed that the exemption from review under state law for community living arrangements requires that the project be approved, authorized, certified or licensed by the state, and that Coastal Opportunities has failed to provide any evidence that it has met that condition.

The couple's lawyer also contends Westra and Stephens were denied due process because they were not notified that a driveway permit was issued Sept. 21, nor that the building permit was issued Nov. 19.

Hamilton claimed in the appeal that the couple only knew about the issuance of the permit from a story in The Courier-Gazette..

He had said the couple do not oppose the intent of the residential care facility, but say it is too large.

The building will eventually replace the 30-year-old Katherine Brown Home -- a group home in Hope. The new house will accommodate eight residents.

The new home is being constructed to energy-efficient standards, including a geothermal heating system, according to Coastal Opportunities. Future plans include the addition of solar panels to further reduce utility expenses.

The cost of the project is approximately $2.2 million.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Deborah Clarisse Morrison | Feb 11, 2019 13:08

$275,000 per person...must be nice rooms!

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