What will be done with Camden Street property?

By Stephen Betts | Feb 15, 2017
Photo by: Stephen Betts This former service station at 59 Camden St. in Rockland will be offered for sale by the city.

Rockland — The city will be seeking proposals for re-development of two properties  -- including a prime commercial one on Camden Street -- that were acquired by Rockland last year.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night, Feb. 14, to authorize the city manager to solicit development proposals for 59 Camden St. and a three-unit apartment building at 56 Talbot Ave.

The city foreclosed on both properties in April 2016, when the owners failed to pay delinquent sewer fees that were more than two years in arrears and despite repeated warnings sent to the owners.

The 59 Camden St. property had been the Harry French automobile repair shop for 35 years until he retired in 2007. The building and one-fifth acre, located at the intersection of Maverick Street, has been vacant for nearly a decade.

The property, valued by the city at $206,600, was owned by Rockland Plaza LLC and its principal, Mark Patel, of Biddeford.

The lot was the subject of an environmental cleanup in 2010 because of spillage from fuel tanks.

The foreclosure occurred when Rockland Plaza failed to pay $270 in sewer fees. There had been a lien on the property for those fees since October 2014 for sewer use from the end of 2013.

The 56 Talbot Ave. property is a three-unit apartment building.

The city foreclosed on the property in April, when a $222 sewer lien had gone unpaid since 2014, despite repeated notices to Deutsche Bank National Trust Co.

The property is assessed by the city at $265,600, which includes a quarter-acre and a three-unit apartment building that has total floor space of nearly 3,600 square feet. The home was built in 1858.

Rockland Code Enforcement Officer John Root said last month the property is in fairly good condition.

Deutsche Bank had been challenging the city's claim to the property, but City Manager Audra Caler Bell said Tuesday night that the bank now agrees that Rockland is the legal owner. The bank had been foreclosing on the property when the city foreclosed on the sewer lien.

City Councilor Valli Geiger said she had no interest in that property going back to Deutsche Bank.

"We need to send a message to banks," Geiger said.

Geiger said it was a tragedy to allow banks to sit on residential properties and let them deteriorate while there is a such a great need for housing.

The council gave unanimous final approval last September to changing the Rockland ordinance that regulates the way the municipality disposes of properties acquired through tax or sewer foreclosures. The change allows the council to consider whether the homes or land it acquires would best be used as affordable housing for people with low incomes, or for middle-class workers.

Geiger sponsored that change.

Previously, if the city did not return the properties to the former owners, which is done in the majority of cases, the city would sell them to the highest bidder.

The City Council has been looking at ways to generate more affordable housing and has worked with Habitat for Humanity. Habitat is planning to build up to 12 small homes on Philbrick Avenue, contingent on changes to city zoning and the extension of the public sewer line.

Comments (5)
Posted by: Maggie Trout | Feb 15, 2017 21:18

I was wrong about the access roads, but I have posted the photo of the Share the Pride Gateway to Penobscot Park Street - Route 1 drawing under Discussions.

Posted by: Maggie Trout | Feb 15, 2017 19:22

As it happens, just last night, I was looking at a photograph I took of the south Rockland entrance Park Street redesign that I took when this beautiful and rational design had been set on the floor there.  It is hand-drawn.  I forget when that design was presented, but it is perfect, and, unless I'm adding my own "overlay" to it, I'm quite certain there were access roads to the businesses like the Restaurant Supply, etc.  Plenty of trees.  No odd placements of anything.  Perfect.  And needed.  You can just imagine choosing to live in a place with that kind of functional and aesthetic planning.  (I have notes on this somewhere). But given that this project was halted - a project of perfection - what halted it, and why wouldn't that area be dealt with first. 


The Camden Street planning was dynamic, engaging, and thorough.  My problem with that redesign is that it extended into Rockport in a way that would have required property owners just over the line to conform.  But my big objection, and perhaps Gerald Weinand will engage in this, is that there is to be no parking on the street side of businesses in that zone.  Seeing vehicles in front of a business fuels the business.  There is also building positioning that is awkward and detrimental.  One thing I know for certain, is that even in light clothing, a person walking along Camden Street tonight, could barely be seen in the dark. 



Posted by: Amy Files | Feb 15, 2017 16:37

There's actually an even more recent Camden Street Overlay zone that was designed for that area...

Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Feb 15, 2017 15:51

Regarding the Camden Street property, the first thing the City Council should do is adopt the Neighborhood Business Zone that has been sitting on a shelf in the City Manager's office since it was created more than six years ago, then apply it to all properties surrounding Maverick Square as was originally intended.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Feb 15, 2017 12:06

You better send that bank your message real soon because " The Donald" wants the banks to have free reign on the public.

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