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Rockland Planning Board awaits City Council votes before acting on parking lot

By Stephen Betts | Nov 18, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Rockland Planning Board toured Tuesday evening, Nov. 17, the site of a proposed downtown commercial parking lot at 279 Main St.

Rockland — The Rockland Planning Board will await votes by the City Council before it acts on a proposal to demolish a downtown building and replace it with a commercial parking lot.

The Planning Board toured 279 Main St. Nov. 17, then held a formal public hearing on the project.

But the board decided not to take a vote on whether to approve the application by 279 Main St. LLC and its owner, Crystal Darling. Instead, the board said it would consider the project at its Dec. 15 meeting.

That would be the day following the City Council's Dec. 14 meeting, where it will decide whether to both approve a moratorium on demolition of buildings in the downtown zone and whether to enact an ordinance that prohibits commercial parking lots in the downtown zone.

Both proposals are aimed at preventing the demolition of 279 Main St. which is at the busiest downtown intersection and the entrance to the downtown.

The Council gave unanimous preliminary 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, saying it wanted to talk with Darling.

Darling has submitted a plan to the 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. 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.

Then-Councilor Valli Geiger said at the Nov. 9 meeting that 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 Nov. 9 it was unfair to change the rules for a business owner after they submitted plans. He agreed he would rather not having a parking lot there, but the unfairness of the timing of the change bothers him.

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Comments (6)
Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 19, 2020 09:28


I was wrong on the preliminary approval.  My apology to you, sir.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 19, 2020 09:26

September 14, 2020 Crystal Darling filed an application with the Rockland Code Enforcement office to turn 279 Main Street into a parking lot.

October 20, 2020 The proposal was to go before the Planning Board.

October 14, 2020, the Rockland City Council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that would prohibit commercial parking lots downtown. A formal public hearing and final vote on the ordinance were scheduled for November 9, 2020.

October 20, 2020 The Rockland Planning Board asked for more information about the drainage and landscaping for the proposed commercial parking.

November 3, 2020 The City Council will consider next week whether to impose a six-month moratorium of the demolition of any downtown buildings.

November 9, 2020 The City Council gave unanimous approval to a six month  six-month moratorium of the demolition of any downtown buildings.

November 17, 2020. The Planning Board waits for the voting of the City Council before they make a decision  to demolish 279 Main Street and replace it with a commercial parking lot.

November 17, 2020 The Planning Board will not vote on approval of the application submitted by Crystal Darling until it’s December 15, 2020 meeting.  On that same day, the City Council is planning on meeting to decide whether to approve both a moratorium on demolition of downtown buildings and whether to enact an ordinance to prohibit commercial parking lots downtown.

This is the time line of this whole mess.  Seems that our city government is being sneaky!  No surprise there!


Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Nov 18, 2020 18:08

I agree with councilor Davis that to change the rules after the fact is unfair. Former councilor Geiger states it goes against the vision for downtown but there has always been different visions for downtown   If there was nothing stopping the project when it was applied for it shouldn't be stopped now. I know there needs to be ordinances and standards but when you miss one fairness should come into play. These councilors should not be able to do as they wish just because their soon to be former President Trump gets away with it.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 18, 2020 14:53

But I could be wrong.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 18, 2020 10:40


I do not believe that she has any preliminary approval because it is my understanding that the city already has a non commercial parking lot not allowed within city limits.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Nov 18, 2020 09:21

It was my understanding the planning board offered Darling preliminary approval of her project.  First has anyone spoken with her about this as suggested by Mr. Dorr ?  That would be a good place to start.  Second, holding approval of a project that has already been submitted would be inviting legal action and I am sure she would be chomping at the bit for that opportunity.  There is a right way and a wrong way and this Council seems to excel in the later.

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