ROCKLAND — The Knox Center, in Rockland, may shut its doors and transfer its residents and staff to a new facility, provided that a construction proposal in Rockland meets Planning Board approval.
The new facility, if approved, would not be operated by Pen Bay Medical Center, which had been operating the Center.
On Tuesday, July 7, a developer of senior care facilities in Maine, Sandy River Company, will go before the Planning Board and formally propose details for a new facility at 41 Cranberry Isles Drive, in Rockland.
According to a letter to the Planning Board from Sandy River, SR would develop a “new state-of-the-art 90 - 110 licensed nursing care and rehabilitation center to replace the Knox Center located on White Street, and replace 39 nursing care beds at Quarry Hill, in Camden.”
The Knox Center, according to Sandy River’s letter, is in good condition and well maintained. However, the layout and design of the interior and exterior property is inefficient and outdated.
Once constructed, North Country Associates, which operates other nursing care facilities throughout Maine, would operate Rockland’s facility. PBMC will sell its bed rights, and move its residents and staff to the new location.
For developers, the dilemma in its proposal is not limited to highlighting the location’s proximity to the hospital, the “ample space” for the preferred single-story design, and direct access to three different gardens. The proposed facility is also contingent on zoning. According to Sandy River, this Residential-A zone property doesn’t allow for nursing care or assisted living care use, “nor do density requirements specify the number of beds allowed.”
Rockland’s code for Residential A conditional uses include small “residential care” facilities “small” (city code ch19-304 (6)). The conditional uses also include “elderly assisted living housing of no more than 30 units”. (city code ch 19-304 (8)).
Though the proposed use is residential in nature, according to Code Enforcement Officer Adam Ackor, but also includes medical care and therefore requires the zoning amendment to include Nursing Care and Assisted Living as conditional uses. In addition to the conditional use amendment, Sandy River is also seeking a specification of land area per bed. The current zoning for Residential A permits 5,000 square feet of lot area per dwelling unit for two or more units on the same lot. The developer would like to amend the zoning to require 5,000 square feet per bed in nursing or residential care facilities.
If the Planning Board approves designs for the development, Sandy River will then turn to the City and City Council to request the zoning changes.
Sandy River’s letter states that abutters would not be able to see the developed building, and that residents would live mostly in private rooms, divided into three “neighborhoods.” Those residents would be afforded views of Penobscot Bay, and the company has suggested future walking trails for community usage.
Though the design has not been completely finalized, the developer is estimating the building’s square footage to be at least 65,000, at an estimated construction cost of $16,500,000.
Whereas the Knox Center is a nonprofit, the new facility will be a taxpaying for-profit organization, according to Sandy River.
“The new state-of-the-art senior care center will ensure that high-quality senior care services will remain available for Knox County residents,” said Sandy River.
Reach Sarah Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org