Despite concerns of killing residents with noise, Rockland retirement home expansion OK’d

Posted Feb. 15, 2011, at 10:57 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 16, 2011, at 1:33 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Noise from construction of a retirement home expansion could kill the elderly people who live there by stressing their nerves and giving them heart attacks, an opponent to the proposed project said at a Rockland City Council meeting Monday night.

A representative of the housing facility for the elderly, Bartlett Woods, rebutted this allegation, stating that the elderly like to meander around construction sites.

Ultimately, the council voted 3-2 to allow the Rockland nonprofit facility to expand by 24 apartment units, so long as project managers strive to reduce construction noise.

“Construction noise is hard on the nerves on anyone, but these people are fragile. Fragile like babies,” said Sally Davis of Camden. Her mother, Lola Davis, lives in the retirement community. “It sounds dramatic to say this is a death sentence to these seniors, but it may be.”

Bartlett Woods architect John Morris said no one he knows of through his experience as an architect has suffered a heart problem or death because of loud construction noise.

“I would very much like to talk to this allegation that these folks are frail and want nothing but the occasional chirping of a bird,” he said during the public comment session of Monday’s meeting. “A lot of residents are curious and engaged and sometimes [become] a problem because they want to wonder through the construction site to see what’s going on.”

The debate went back and forth before the Rockland City Council called a 3-2 vote to allow Bartlett Woods a contract zone so it may build 24 more units, so long as the facility works to minimize noise.

Councilors also debated a chicken ordinance in town before ultimately tabling it until next month’s meeting. The plan lacks details about chicken regulation citywide. It also did not address whether roosters would be permitted in downtown residential areas or how many chickens a resident could have.

Some areas of the city are allowed chickens, others are not, and other zones are entirely neglected from regulation. The issue will come up again March 14.

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