After some discussion, the Damariscotta Planning Board approved plans for a 102-bed nursing facility on Piper Mill Road on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
One more condition was added to ensure the applicant, Clippership Landing LLC, installs a denser buffer area with evergreen trees along its border with School Street and another abutting property.
Planning board member Jenny Begin expressed concerns about the size of the project as a 74,500 square-foot building and that she didn’t think it fit with the rural character of the neighborhood. She said there are standards in town ordinance that restrict senior housing to no more than 45 units.
Town Planner Isabelle Oechslie said that would apply to a multi-family dwelling unit, not a nursing care facility.
“This has been reviewed as a nursing care facility, given that it has separate bedrooms and is served by kitchens, a centralized kitchen in each wing. They’re not considered dwelling units,” Oechslie said.
She added that she sought legal advice from the Maine Municipal Association and they agreed the facility should be reviewed as a nursing care facility.
Jonathan Eaton, chair of the planning board, said he agreed with Begin, but the project complies with all town ordinances concerning the project.
“I don’t love the size of it, I’ll be honest with you,” Eaton said. “But they have adhered to the ordinances that we have. And for me to make a judgment on whether that stands or not really isn’t my right, honestly.”
The board approved all three waivers requested by the applicant – construction of a 6-foot sidewalk instead of an 8-foot sidewalk, the waiver of a 30-foot minimum buffer strip between the property and another parcel that the planning board agreed to split off for the property owner, and an exemption from submitting a detailed economic analysis.
LincolnHealth plans to move residents from Cove’s Edge on the Miles Campus in Damariscotta and from St. Andrew’s Village in Boothbay Harbor to the new space.
Two public hearings on the project generated more than six hours of discussion, with abutters decrying the size and scope of the project in the largely residential area and expressing concerns about traffic generation.
At the first part of the public hearing in November, Oechslie laid out details for the site plan review application for construction of the building. She presented all the aspects of the building in relation to the town’s land use ordinance standards for large-scale developments in the rural zone.
Construction will include site improvements including parking areas, two curb cuts for entrances, stormwater management facilities, and courtyard areas and path systems for the enjoyment of residents of the facility, according to the application.
Oechslie has indicated that the proposed use of the facility meets all the requirements of Damariscotta’s land use ordinance and will not have an adverse effect on the health, safety, or general welfare of the public.
The Damariscotta Planning Board will next meet at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 6.