High-end rehab clinic eyed for Camden

The Fox Hill property in Camden is being eyed as a treatment center by a Massachusetts hospital.
Photo courtesy Vision Appraisal
The Fox Hill property in Camden is being eyed as a treatment center by a Massachusetts hospital.
Posted Feb. 25, 2013, at 1:05 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 25, 2013, at 2:57 p.m.

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CAMDEN, Maine — The town is considering whether to amend its zoning laws to allow a high-end, private residential alcohol treatment clinic to be established in a $6.5 million home on Bay View Street.

McLean Hospital of Belmont, Mass., is interested in starting the clinic at the Fox Hill property at 235 Bay View Street. Patients would pay $50,000 to $60,000 for a month’s stay, according to a project proposal.

Before the project could move forward, however, voters would have to approve a change in its zoning ordinances. The project also would need to get site plan approval from the Camden Planning Board and a special exception permit from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

The next step is a public informational hearing scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday by the planning board at the conference room of the Camden Town Office.

The proposal was put before the planning board on Feb. 7 by attorney Paul Gibbons representing H. Thompson Rodman, who is proposing to partner with McLean Hospital

The proposed facility would serve nine to 11 patients and employ up to a staff of five in the 12-bedroom home.

In Gibbons’ Feb. 7 presentation, he stated there will be no changes made to the exterior of the buildings, and there will be no visual impact on neighbors. As most of the patients won’t have cars, the clinic would not create any more traffic than existed when Charles Cawley owned the property. It would also be less traffic and noise than there is currently from the summer weddings that are being held at the property. The current owners rent the property out on a weekly basis and guests hold functions.

The facility would be able to open soon after planning board approval, according to the presentation.

Before that can happen, however, the zone change is needed.

Camden Planner and Code Enforcement Officer Steve Wilson said the public informational meeting for Wednesday evening is the next step. That will be followed by two planning board public hearings — 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 6 and 13, at the town office.

At the end of the March 13 meeting, Wilson said he expects the planning board to vote on whether to recommend to the Select Board amending the coastal residential zone to allow for residential treatment facilities. The amendment would require that any facility have a minimum of 10 acres, have eight to 16 beds, and be 100 feet away from the road.

Lowrie Sargent, vice chairman of the planning board, said the board has heard from the potential buyer’s attorney and from the hospital official but that it wants to learn more from the community. He said he has not formed a position yet on whether the zone change should be recommended.

Fox Hill’s main house consists of 16,000-square-feet. Fox Hill Investments, LLC purchased the home in 2009 for $6 million from Cawley, who had been the chief executive officer at MBNA. The town has the buildings and 14 acres assessed at $6.5 million.

The Select Board would then be required to have a public hearing and vote for the item to be on the June town meeting ballot.

Wilson said that the McLean hospital is fine with a vote being held in November instead of June, but that the proposed buyer wants a June vote of the citizens.

A Feb. 7 letter from Dr. Phil Levendusky, senior vice president of business development for McLean Hospital, to the Camden Planning Board states that the facility would be a “premier alcohol and substance abuse residential program.”

“This program would have the capacity to provide comprehensive psycho-educational rehabilitation services for up to 11 clients. These clients would participate in a rich array of rehabilitation programming offered by skilled and experienced professional staff,” Levendusky stated in his letter.

On average, clients would reside on site for 30 days.

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