February 4

Augusta council to vote on hospitality house

A Ronald McDonald House-type home near the new hospital requires a zoning change by city council.

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A proposed zoning change to allow a vacant home to be converted into a medical boarding house near the cancer center and new hospital is up for final approval Thursday.

click image to enlarge

ZONING CHANGE NEEDED: The home at 410 Old Belgrade Road, where a hospitality house is proposed.

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan

Augusta city councilors previously have indicated they support the private proposal to turn a home at 410 Old Belgrade Road into a Ronald McDonald House-like facility where patients and families getting treatment at the Alfond Center for Cancer Care and MaineGeneral Medical Center could stay for free.

However, a council vote is needed on a zoning change to allow a medical boarding house in the medical district zone that surrounds MaineGeneral’s medical facilities in north Augusta. The house is roughly across the street from the cancer center and the hospital.

Currently, boarding houses of any type are not allowed uses in the district. Adding medical boarding houses to the district was recommended unanimously by the Planning Board.

The facility would be called Farmhouse of Hope, according to Shelley O’Connell, who said in a letter to the city she would be executive director of the nonprofit temporary housing site.

Guests would be limited to people at least 18 years old who live at least 30 miles away from Augusta, with some exceptions.

The home is owned by Dr. Brian Gillis, an Oakland proctologist, who said he came up with the idea for it one day while driving by, and thinking the parcel, being so close to the cancer center and hospital, would be a good location where families and patients could stay and easily access medical care.

Councilors are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Councilors are also scheduled to:

• Hear a presentation from officials of Camden National Bank;

• Consider allowing the Police Department to take $4,121 seized from Robert Dixon, a New York man who pleaded guilty to aggravated cocaine trafficking last month;

• Consider authorizing City Manager William Bridgeo to accept $6,000 in grant funds from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for all-terrain vehicle enforcement in 2014; and

• Meet in a closed-door session to discuss real estate negotiations.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647 kedwards@centralmaine.com

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