March 29, 2020

Compromise clears way for golf course project

ROCKLAND — A compromise worked out Monday night between residents of Pen Bay Acres and the Rockland Golf Club could allow a $1 million expansion of the 18-hole course. A final vote on the compromise will be taken Jan. 26 after a public hearing.

It was the second time the project came before the City Council.

Last month, attorney James Brannan brought the request to rezone 13.5 acres adjoining the golf course from Residential A to Residential B, a zone which allows golf courses. That request was approved by the City Council, but rejected by members of the planning commission after neighbors complained.

Neighbors, including Edward Brooks of Pen Bay Acres, said it was feared that once the zoning was changed, the golf club could change its plans and sell the property to another developer. The Pen Bay Acres development, one of the most expensive in the city, then could be abutted by a less restrictive development which could endanger property values, Brooks said.

Rather than change the zone of the land, neighbors suggested that it remain as a highly restrictive “A” zone, with a special exception to allow expansion of a golf course. In further protection for the neighbors, no parking lots, artificial lighting or buildings would be allowed on the golf course, according to the compromise.

The compromise would mean that even if the golf club sold the property, it would retain the more highly restrictive zoning, which would allow only a low-density housing development, Brooks told the council. Neighbors were totally in favor of the compromise, Brooks said.

The golf course expansion became necessary after the American Legion informed the facility that it would no longer rent land off Mechanic Street. Six of the first nine holes of the golf course are located on the land leased from the Legion. The 350-member golf course holds a lease on the Legion land through 1998.

Once the Legion made its announcement, the golf course was forced to find a new home for six holes.

In preliminary reading, the compromise was approved unanimously by the council Monday night.

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