NEW GLOUCESTER — A youth substance abuse treatment facility proposed by non-profit Day One is heading back to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
One of the nearby residents objecting to the planned 12-bed facility at 934 Intervale Road in New Gloucester has now filed a request asking the Board of Appeals to reconsider an April 10 decision that denied several appeals to the project.
The appeals board voted 4-0 earlier this month to uphold the Feb. 28 determination by town Code Enforcement Officer Debra Parks Larrivee that the proposed treatment facility is an approved use within the town’s rural residential district and is subject to site plan review by the Planning Board.
However, with a reconsideration request filed by resident Michael Rawlings-Sekunda, the Board of Appeals is now set to have another meeting on May 8.
In his appeal, Rawlings-Sekunda takes issue with several of the board’s conclusions on the Day One proposal, including that it is similar to several allowed uses within the rural residential zone such as residential treatment facilities and community living arrangements.
Parks Larrivee said that the May 8 reconsideration meeting may not necessarily include an opportunity for public comment.
Town Planner Scott Hastings said this week that he does not expect the May 8 Board of Appeals meeting to delay Day One’s public hearing before the Planning Board on Tuesday, May 1. Hastings did say the Planning Board could hold off from voting on the project next Tuesday night while the appeals process is ongoing.
Day One CEO Greg Bowers said he was confident that the Board of Appeals made the right decision the first time.
“Day One believes the Appeals Board decision was sound and there is no basis for any further reconsideration,” Bowers said in an email.
Rawlings-Sekunda made one of the three appeals to Parks Larrivee’s original determination. He stressed during an April 4 public hearing that as someone with three decades of experience working in child welfare, he believes young people in recovery need access to treatment.
“My appeal to the board is based solely on my contention that there are more appropriate zones in New Gloucester in which to place a substance abuse residential facility than within a rural residential zone,” he said at the time.
New Gloucester Town Ordinance says that if someone wants to appeal a board of appeals decision after the reconsideration process, they have 15 days to file in Superior Court. Rawlings-Sekunda said that even if the board does not change its ruling, he could not afford the cost of appealing in Superior Court.
Eric Ritter, one of the other nearby residents who filed an appeal related to the Day One project, said he didn’t know if he would pursue legal action or not.
“I never wanted to have to do any of this stuff,” Ritter said.
Several New Gloucester residents in favor of the Day One facility have referenced protections under the federal Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, saying that turning down the proposed facility could open the town up to a discrimination lawsuit.
“We as a neighborhood feel strongly that concern for safety is not the same thing as discrimination,” Ritter said, stressing that the objections center around what the group believes is allowed in town ordinances and not the work that Day One does.
“We consider what they do to be a noble thing,” Ritter said about Day One.
Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.
Day One has proposed to use a two-story home it purchased at 934 Intervale Road as a substance abuse treatment facility for males ages 14-20.