A plan to build a five-unit apartment building in Randolph for adults with developmental disabilities has sparked concern by residents who live in the small town on the Kennebec River.

In June, representatives from Uplift Inc., a nonprofit that offers a range of services to support adults with intellectual disabilities from transportation to jobs to round-the-clock care, gave a presentation on the project at a public hearing at the Randolph Planning Board meeting.

The proposal that’s been submitted shows plans for a single-story 4,545-square-foot apartment building to be built on the east side of Lewis Avenue, a short, dead-end street that runs south from Kinderhook Avenue in the southwest corner of the town.

“There will be five efficiency apartments surrounding a common area,” Jennifer Kinnelly, director of support services for Uplift, said last week.

“This allows people to have independent and private space,” she said. “They have more than  just a bedroom. They have their own bathroom and kitchen and living spaces. Some do their own thing in the kitchen; other people never use their kitchen.”

The central part of the residence will house a common area, kitchen, laundry, bathroom facilities and an office area. Depending on the level of support the residents would require, two or three staff members would be on site around the clock.

Uplift operates a number of similar facilities — including two like the one proposed for Randolph — in Gardiner, Farmingdale, Chelsea, Winthrop and Augusta. All are in residential neighborhoods, Kinnelly said.

“We’re licensed through the state with a residential care license,” she said.

Uplift acquired the property earlier this year and cleared trees from part of it a few weeks ago to make way for the building they hope to complete later this year, Kinnelly said.

“We don’t know who will be moving into this location, but there is interest from someone in Randolph,” she said.

Peter Coughlan, chairman of the Randolph Planning Board, said the public hearing drew about 30 people who had questions about how the value of their homes would be affected by the development and whether the building as envisioned is allowable in Randolph’s residential zoning.

“The argument was that it was a commercial place,” Coughlan said, “but the land use is residential.”

He said area residents brought up restrictions in their deeds, but Coughlan said those restrictions apply only to the properties for which the deeds were issued. And the property is not subject to the requirements of the Mill Stream subdivision because it is not located in that subdivision.

This photo, taken Friday, shows the site of Uplift Inc.’s planned five-unit apartment building on Lewis Avenue in Randolph. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Some were also concerned that the lot was cleared of trees without notice.

Coughlan said the Planning Board will consider the project a major subdivision as defined by town ordinance and will follow the process outlined there.

The board will send notices out to residents who live within 500 feet of the project of the next Planning Board meeting in July; that meeting has not yet been scheduled. Coughlan said the board expects to have answers to the questions on valuation and whether the proposal constitutes a commercial enterprise.

“We’re going to take comments there,” he said, “and there will be a final meeting for the final application, and the Planning Board will make a decision.”

Kinnelly said one of Uplift’s priorities is to increase its capacity to provide services to people with developmental disabilities.

“There’s a wait list on the state level,” she said.

Uplift is now in the process of replacing the homes that it has owned for a number of years. When it was acquiring homes several decades ago, a number of them were three stories.

Because Uplift wants its residents to have the opportunity to age in place, the organization is replacing multi-story homes with single-story homes to ensure they are accessible.

“We want communities where people can access things,” Kinnelly said. “Our home in Winthrop is near Hannaford (grocery store), so people without a vehicle can access downtown and be more a part of the community.”


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