A Letter to Kim Tuttle, Camden Planning Board

Posted:  Monday, December 30, 2013 - 9:00am
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Dear Ms. Tuttle:

We would like to personally thank you for asking the FHRE investors the difficult question at the Planning Board hearing on December 12th: “What is the worst case for the property in the event McLean changes its mind in the future?”  As a member of the Planning Board, you recognized that it is your responsibility to protect the citizens of Camden against the “downside” risks associated with this drastic change in the town’s zoning code, and it is your right and duty to seek an answer.

Unfortunately, the investors and Dr. Levendusky failed to provide you with that answer. Instead, they simply repeated how wonderful McLean is, how much the hospital likes Fox Hill, and that Mr. Rodman is not currently interested in any other operator. That is not an answer to your thoughtful question. Please allow us the opportunity to answer your question:

If McLean leaves, Fox Hill will be a commercially zoned hospital owned by Wall Street investors, led by Mr. Rodman. Mr. Rodman’s friend in East Hampton operates a facility like the other celebrity rehab centers located throughout the country, such as Passages Malibu, which was recently profiled in the New York Times article circulated to the Board a few months ago. These entities continue to flout zoning laws and other regulations, making huge profits at the expense of the safety and serenity of the towns in which they operate. Stories of these abuses abound and are well documented on our website: www.responsiblezoning.com.

Regardless of who operates the facility (McLean or otherwise), Fox Hill will be abuzz with cars, limos and trucks making all manner of deliveries, drop-offs and day trips, throughout the day and into the night. Camden’s fire, police and ambulance services will also visit regularly. The restrictions on the number of passenger car visits contained in FHRE’s proposal will be ignored, since the town cannot enforce them. The surrounding neighbors will eventually follow the Fitzgeralds out of the neighborhood, at greatly reduced sale prices, thus removing a significant amount of Camden’s property tax revenue. 

The paid staff will more closely resemble the staff of a resort spa than a rehabilitation center, and, most likely, none of them will earn a high enough wage to enable them to live in Camden. The professional, high paying jobs are most likely already existing professionals in Belmont or Fernside, who will be driving up for a day or two per week or counseling via teleconference from Boston. 

The methadone clinics and other halfway houses that will sue the town to obtain the right to operate in Camden’s other neighborhoods will come regardless of whether McLean succeeds or fails. Camden will be unable to prevent this, because the Planning Board will have declared that the safety and security that zoning codes provide residential neighborhoods are not important to Camden. The 71 lines that FHRE wants you to recommend inserting into the Camden zoning code are superfluous, discriminatory, unenforceable and arbitrary. As Deb Dodge pointed out in her testimony on 12/12, if approved this change will likely result in endless hassle and cost the town time and money to enforce and defend. You simply CANNOT make zoning exceptions only for people in the “socioeconomic background” targeted by Mr. Rodman, and no one else.

Because we view this “worst case” scenario as also the most likely to occur, we urge you to vote NO to recommending that the FHRE proposal be sent to the Select Board for consideration.

Sincerely,
Citizens of Camden for Responsible Zoning