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Zone change for nursing home gets initial approval from Rockland

By Stephen Betts | Aug 11, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts Engineer Michael Sabatini holds concept plans during a July 7 meeting of the Rockland Planning Board for the proposed regional nursing home that would be located off Old County Road in Rockland.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council gave preliminary approval Aug. 10 for a contract zone to allow a new regional nursing home to be built on Old County Road.

But councilors said they want to hold a workshop on the proposed contract zone where neighbors opposed to the project could meet with the City Council in person. Mayor Lisa Westkaemper said she would speak to councilors about how such a meeting could be arranged.

The City Council has held meetings virtually since mid-March because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Councilor Valli Geiger pointed out the city was able to hold a meeting July 16 at City Hall between the police chief and residents over concerns about break-ins. She noted the Planning Board is holding in-person meetings.

A formal public hearing and possible final vote are scheduled for Sept. 14. If the zone change is given final approval, the project would still need to go before the Rockland Planning Board for site plan review and approval.

The contract zone would allow a nursing home to be located on the property that is currently zoned residential A.

Sandy River is the proposed developer for a single-story, 65,000-square-foot nursing home that would serve 90 to 110 residents. The new nursing home would replace the 84-bed Knox Center in Rockland and 39 nursing care beds at Quarry Hill in Camden.

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.

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.

Several neighbors again spoke out against the contract zone, saying there was too much traffic on Old County Road already and the nursing home would add to that problem, that the large project did not fit into a residential neighborhood, and that noise and lighting would disrupt the neighborhood.

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. And the new home would have private rooms which residents and families want.

(Correction: The property that is being rezoned is a residential A zone not a residential B).

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Comments (4)
Posted by: Chris Whytock | Aug 12, 2020 19:54

This is a positive and beneficial project for Rockland.  I live on OCR and the street will be no busier then it already is. Let’s  listen to what the abutting neighbors have to say and see what can be done to make them whole, but please do not let this project find its way somewhere else. Not only a large boost to our tax base, but a needed facility that will serve this area well.

Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Aug 11, 2020 12:30

I have very realistic concerns about drainage, sewage which could be a potential nightmare for Pen Bay Acres and the  neighbors who live on Old County Rd. I have spoken with neighbors who are also concerned. This MUST be seriously considered. Survey may not be enough. I want something legally typed in by our Planning Board, that neighbors are NOT financially responsible if basements get flooded, etc. etc.

Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Aug 11, 2020 12:26

They must swear on a Bible never to request a rebate.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 11, 2020 08:58

Once again another worthwhile project that will most likely move just across the line and benefit one of our neighboring  towns instead of providing needed tax dollars for Rockland.  Don't you just love this "New England" attitude of  "well I'm all for it just not in my backyard".  RE: the noise & traffic, we all know what party animals most seniors are their wild parties would generate lots of traffic & noise especially Saturday nights when the rock band gets going.  Seriously folks Old County roads traffic problem comes from the fact it has become Rockland's by-pass and a seniors facility will have little if any effect on that.

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