New Gloucester Planning Board to continue site review for treatment facility

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NEW GLOUCESTER — The Planning Board will continue deliberations on a site plan for a proposed residential drug treatment facility for boys and men ages 14 to 20 at  7 p.m. Tuesday, May 15.

Townspeople have expressed concerns about safety, neighborhood compatibility, well water drawdown and the interpretation that the facility matches use standards in ordinance language.

Day One propose to close its Hollis location and open a 12-bed facility at the 934 Intervale Road home and former law office with 6 acres.

The board has learned that resident Michael Rawlings-Sekunda has filed a second request for the Zoning Board of Appeals to reconsider its April 18 decision to uphold Code Enforcement Officer Debra Parks Larrivee’s determination that the Day One use is similar to other uses. Rawlings-Sekunda’s second request will be taken up at the May 8 meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals.  

In response to safety concerns, Day One attorney Tom Schoening said police were called to the Hollis facility 14 times in 2017, compared to 2,100 calls to New Gloucester.

New Gloucester Fire Chief James Ladewig said the facility’s needs could be handled by the fire/rescue department.

Day One residents would receive their public education on site through SAD 6.

Resident Eric Ritter said at a public hearing Monday that he wanted an explanation about how three bedrooms could meet the therapeutic needs of four residents living in each room for six months.

“It sounds like summer camp,” he said.

Ritter also spoke about his concern to blend teenage boys with 20-year-olds.

Eursela Sebenski of Atwood Road said she was concerned that the facility would exceed its capacity.  She said she researched other Day One residential facilities in Buxton, Hollis and Hinkley and noted that other towns consider them community living facilities only, and some are in the commercial zone rather than the rural residential zone.

Day One CEO Greg Bower said the agency has held numerous open house meetings and is available to build a relationship with residents as a neighbor. 

The South Portland-based private organization’s mission is to dramatically reduce substance use and address mental health needs among Maine youths. The agency provides a broad range of services including outpatient and school-based counseling, and intensive outpatient and residential treatment.

Carl Weinhardt of Intervale Road said he speaks for his family and other neighbors. “Five of the immediate abutters are still in shock. This is not in the definition of a rural residential neighborhood.”

The Board of Appeals on April 18 ruled to uphold the code enforcement officer’s definition that it was use similar to other uses and wrote that the project is similar to residential care facilities in that it is not limited to the elderly, although subject to performance standards for housing for the elderly.

The project is also similar to nursing homes in that the facility must be licensed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. 

The project also is similar to community living arrangements under state law. A community living arrangement is deemed a single-family use of property for purposes of zoning.  Although the project is for 12 residents and not eight, as is the limit for community living arrangements, any such conditions on the number of residents are within the jurisdiction of the Planning Board.

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