Bath Planning Board OKs retirement home expansion

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BATH — The Planning Board on Tuesday reached three decisions in favor of expansion of the Plant Home retirement community, although one item must still go before the City Council for final approval.

The board, which tabled discussion last month on the 96-year-old Washington Street facility, unanimously granted site plan and developmental subdivision approvals, and also recommended the City Council approve a contract rezoning request. The council must vote on the matter twice, and will likely first do so in October, City Planner Andrew Deci said Tuesday.

The Planning Board’s site plan and subdivision approvals are contingent on the council’s acceptance of the contract rezoning.

In response to concerns by some residents about the impact of construction, the Planning Board placed conditions on the use of East Lane for construction traffic, Deci said. East Lane is just north of the Plant Home and will be used for access to one of the home’s new triplex units.

The Plant Home has 37 private apartments in a main building, and 11 apartments in five duplexes and one single-occupant building. The facility plans to build a three-story, 48,000-square-foot building with 45 more units. It would tear down four of the duplexes and build two triplexes in their place.

Don Capoldo, Plant Home executive director, said last month said the expansion in part will allow the home to get its ratio of market-rate, private-pay residents to subsidized units “more in line with a figure that can sustain us in perpetuity.”

Thirty-two of its current apartments are for low-income residents, Capoldo said; the new building will contain all market-rate units.

The city has also expressed a significant need for elderly housing, he noted.

Contract rezoning requires a public benefit in exchange, and the Plant Home has offered to transfer an undeveloped, 1.3-acre parcel between the Wing Farm Business Park and Ranger Circle to a group or organization that wants to assume stewardship of the property for open space and recreation.

The Plant Home would also provide public access to a point on the Kennebec River south of the facility.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.