Plans for Camden substance abuse clinic dead

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted March 05, 2013, at 5:19 p.m.

CAMDEN, Maine — Only a few weeks after a proposed high-end alcohol rehabilitation center was announced for Camden, the plan has been dropped.

Steve Wilson, Camden code enforcement officer and planner, said he was informed Tuesday morning by the attorney for the property owner at 235 Bay View St. that the offer had been rejected.

Later in the day, attorney Paul Gibbons, who represents H. Thompson Rodman, the potential buyer, informed Wilson that a second revised offer also had been rejected and the deal is dead, the planner said.

The withdrawal means that planning board hearings scheduled for Wednesday evenings, March 6 and 13, have been canceled.

The property is owned by Fox Hill Investments LLC. The Maine secretary of state lists Ellen Simmons of Rockport as the sole member of the corporation.

The property has been used for weekly rentals.

Gibbons told the BDN on Tuesday that the turn of events was completely unexpected. He said that the main points to a purchase had been negotiated, and in a meeting Tuesday to complete the purchase, the buyer rejected the offer.

Rodman expressed disappointment with what transpired.

“I’m devastated. To use a sports analogy, I feel like I was tackled from behind on the 10-yard line,” Rodman said.

The clinic would have been beneficial to all parties, including the community, he maintained. He said in addition to serving the patients, it would have provided employment to local contractors. The impact on the neighborhood would have been less than what is felt now, he said.

Rodman said there is no other site under consideration. He said he only proposed the rehab center in Camden because of the Fox Hill location.

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

Rodman said if there were some way for the project to be resurrected, he would try.

Attorney James Elliot, who represents Fox Hill, said his client decided not to proceed with the option agreement. He said there were a myriad of reasons, but did not elaborate.

Rodman had proposed purchasing the property and entering into a 30-year lease with McLean Hospital of Belmont, Mass. The proposed facility would have served nine to 11 patients at a time and employed a staff of up to five in the 12-bedroom home.

Wilson noted that Rodman had standing to ask for a zone change in the coastal residential zone because he had a signed document from the owner that they were negotiating a sale.

The proposed zone change attracted numerous residents at a meeting last week, with some voicing support and others voicing concerns over spot zoning and the impact on the residential neighborhood.

Rodman had said that the center would be one of the top rehab centers in the country and perhaps the world. Patients were expected to pay $50,000 to $60,000 for a month’s stay, according to a project proposal.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/03/05/news/midcoast/camden-alcohol-rehab-clinic-zone-change-withdrawn/ printed on August 23, 2014