SKOWHEGAN — Kennebec Behavioral Health has withdrawn a proposal to move its offices and daytime outpatient care to a residential neighborhood on Water Street.

The decision comes after an appeal of the Skowhegan Staff Review Committee’s unanimous approval of the plan in October. The appeal was filed with the Skowhegan Planning Board.

Three residents, including Jennifer Olson whose property abuts the proposed site, filed the appeal, saying the move from High Street to Water Street is not consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan.

The residents said students at a nearby elementary school and visitors to Coburn Park, across the street from the proposed site, would not be protected as spelled out in the comprehensive plan.

They said the project also would take the house off the tax rolls while increasing the cost of town services to the area, because Kennebec Behavioral Health is a nonprofit agency.

“I think Kennebec Behavioral Health does good work,” Olson said this week. “I felt that my recourse as an abutter was through the planning process; the appeal process was my means of having a voice. I filed the appeal based on my concerns, but I don’t have any ill will about any of the parties involved.”

Residents who attended the site review meeting in October said their quality of life would be destroyed by 60 to 75 mental health patients visiting the center daily. Former Planning Board member Steve Govoni, one of the appeal signers, said advance notice of the October meeting did not include details on who the clientele of the proposed offices and clinic would be.

“I am a concerned citizen because this proposal puts drug addicts and sex offenders within 50 feet of an elementary school,” Govoni said in a letter to the Review Committee.

Kennebec Behavioral Health is a nonprofit mental health and substance abuse treatment agency offering clinical and counseling services at 14 locations in Augusta, Waterville and Skowhegan. Tom McAdam, chief executive officer of Kennebec Behavioral Health, told residents at the October meeting that the center would not be a residential, transitional or independent housing facility, such as other locations in Skowhegan.

McAdam did not return repeated calls for comment on the matter. George Myers Jr., director of community relations, did not return a call for comment Thursday.

Skowhegan Code Enforcement Officer Randy Gray, who also sits on the five-member Staff Review Committee, said the decision to withdraw the plan was dated Nov. 8.

Gray said the agency did not give a reason for the withdrawal.

“I just think that they wanted to go in without a lot of conflict,” Gray said. “I think that’s what they’re about; they’re kind of a quiet company and maybe they just felt it was best to step back.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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