CAMDEN, Maine — The Camden Planning Board voted 4-1 Thursday night to recommend that the town’s Select Board consider an amendment to the community’s zoning ordinance to allow a high-end alcohol rehabilitation center to locate in a residential neighborhood.
The vote comes after more than two hours of discussions by planning board members, which followed numerous prior meetings over the past several months. Those meetings attracted as many as 100 people to hearings debating the benefits and disadvantages of the change.
Acting Board Chairman Lowrie Sargent said he felt that the issue should ultimately be decided by voters rather than the five members of the planning board.
The Select Board also will hold hearings before deciding whether to place the matter on a town ballot.
Fox Hill Real Estate LLC filed a request with the town in July for an amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance to allow the Fox Hill property at 235 Bay View St. to be used for the clinic. Fox Hill would lease the property to MacLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School. MacLean would then operate a 12-bed inpatient alcohol rehab center where patients would spend a month in treatment.
Supporters say the proposal is simply to allow a rehabilitation center to be what is known as a special exception in the coastal residential zone. The town’s zoning law already allows golf courses, day care centers and nursing schools in this neighborhood, he said. Supporters also say it would boost the economy.
Opponents say the change is a spot zoning change that will degrade residential areas in the community.