Day One Project heads to Board of Appeals

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NEW GLOUCESTER — A plan from nonprofit Day One to open a residential substance abuse treatment facility for young men ages 14-20 is headed to the New Gloucester Board of Appeals next week.

Day One, a South Portland-based organization that provides substance abuse treatment and prevention services to Maine youth, is looking to replace its existing youth treatment facility in Hollis with a property it purchased at 934 Intervale Road.

Town Code Enforcement Officer Debra Parks Larrivee said that as of Wednesday morning she had received one administrative appeal to her Feb. 28 determination that the residential treatment facility is an approved use within the town’s rural residential district and is subject to site plan review by the Planning Board.

The appeal was filed by North Yarmouth-based lawyer Thaddeus Day on behalf of Gail Kolda, Scott Kolda and Alexander Runyon — who the appeal application identifies as New Gloucester residents and landowners.

“Applicants/Appellants respectfully request that the Board of Zoning Appeals find the CEO erred, requiring the proposed use at 934 Intervale Road to be denied,” reads the appeal.

The appeal claims that Parks Larrivee wrongly determined that Day One submitted a proper application to open and operate a 12-bed facility, and also disputes whether the proposed facility is a permitted use in the applicable town zone.

Day said in an interview that his clients live within close proximity to the proposed facility location and worry that the young men who would be treated there, who he described as “troubled youths,” could be “a danger to their family and their property.”

“Those individuals put a lot of worry into the neighbors that surround this proposed site,” he added.

Day anticipated that another resident would be filing an appeal, and Town Planner Scott Hastings said staff had heard there might be a second appeal but didn’t believe it had been submitted as of Wednesday.

The town’s zoning ordinance lists nursing homes and residential care facilities — subject to performance standards for elderly housing — along with community living arrangements as permitted uses subject to site plan review in the rural residential zone. The ordinance language also contains a provision that allows for “uses similar to permitted uses.”

Day contends that this specific type of residential facility wasn’t considered in the town’s relevant ordinance language, which he said was meant for “aged people, not juvenile youth.”

The issue is scheduled to come before the Board of Appeals on Wednesday, April 4.

In a statement, Day One CEO Gregory Bowers said his organization believes Parks Larrivee’s findings were correct.

“We have no reason to believe that the permitted use determination by the Code Enforcement Officer was flawed in any way,” Bowers said. “Day One is committed to working with the planning board and local residents throughout the permit approval and site plan review process.”

The Planning Board was initially set to hold a public hearing on the project March 6, but they voted that night to postpone the hearing while the appeals process is underway.

“With those appeals being filed, it puts the Planning Board’s process in a stagnation mode,” said Planning Board Chairman Donald Libby, who noted that Day One asked that the public hearing not be opened while the appeal process is ongoing.

“It’s just cleaner for us to table this,” Libby added on March 6.

According to a notice that Day One said it sent to all New Gloucester residents, the organization held two open houses this week at the Intervale Road location and is making an effort to have individual meetings with people who express interest.

“Day One is making every effort to educate and inform the community on the quality of our clinical services, the measures we take to ensure the safety of our clients, staff and neighbors, and the minimal impact we have on town services,” Bowers continued.

Bowers said Day One is proud of the relationships it built with the community in Hollis and hopes that community engagement can help lessen the stigma associated with substance abuse.

“We believe it is extremely important that our presence be as completely integrated into the fabric of the community as possible. We encourage our clients to give back to the community where they can, by participating in volunteer or community service opportunities for example,” he said. “Engaging with the communities where our care facilities are located and encouraging our clients to participate in local community service activities also helps to combat the stigma associated with the challenges faced by these young people.”

“We look forward to developing a positive relationship with our neighbors in New Gloucester,” Bowers continued.

In an interview earlier this year, Bowers said he sees his organization playing an important role in the statewide effort to combat opioid addiction.

Day said that his clients are not unsympathetic to statewide addiction challenges and the role of treatment, but suggested that the proposed location is not the right place for this facility.

“My clients are not against such a societal need,” Day said. “However, they don’t want to be so close to it.”

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

The property at 934 Intervale Road in New Gloucester where nonprofit Day One is looking to open a residential youth treatment center.

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