April 22, 2018
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Rockland zoning referendum slated for Dec. 16

By George Chappell

ROCKLAND, Maine — City councilors have agreed on Dec. 16 as the date for a citywide referendum on a repeal of the zoning map amendment and conditional rezoning of properties.

The referendum is the result of a petition drive by residents last month.

The petition in early October by 19 participants was launched as a challenge to an application by Walgreens to build an 11,500-square-foot drugstore at the intersection of Routes 1 and 17.

The petitioners had responded to an Aug. 11 City Council vote approving a zoning amendment allowing Walgreens to move into the neighborhood, despite recommendations to the contrary by the planning board and the comprehensive planning committee.

At the Oct. 20 public hearing on the petition, Brian Fuller and Leigh Ann Fuller, residents of Jefferson Street in the neighborhood behind the proposed pharmacy site, said the zoning change had not been a good idea.

“Zoning is there to respect, and that’s why people buy homes in town because they feel they have some sort of protection,” Brian Fuller had said at the hearing.

At Monday’s City Council agenda-setting meeting, councilors decided to have the referendum vote a week later than originally planned.

The one ballot question will ask voters whether they want to repeal the zoning map amendment and conditional rezoning of properties in the vicinity of Camden and Maverick streets for a Walgreens pharmacy.

A yes vote would repeal the ordinance. A no vote would allow the ordinance to go into effect.

If voters repeal the zoning amendment on Dec. 16, the city’s zoning ordinance will not allow the company to try again to rezone the same property for the same purpose for five years, according to City Attorney Kevin Beal.

Walgreens has approached the city twice in the past two years with proposals to build a pharmacy at the busy intersection, but neighbors objected to the plan the first time and began circulating a petition opposing a required zoning change.

The City Manager’s Office said at the time that the Richmond Co. Inc., developer for the Chicago-based Walgreens, had not filed a formal application with any city board, but that the developer had shared its plans only with city management.

Opposition mounted, and Walgreens withdrew its plans, only to return a few months later with a second developer, WAG-Pharm Development.

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