Plant Home revises design
BATH — Nearly three years after The Thomas G. Plant Memorial Home formally announced plans for a major expansion, administrators and neighbors appear near agreement for the first time about the size and shape that expansion will take.
A workshop with the city’s Planning Board on Tuesday generated positive comments from neighbors about modified plans, Plant Home Executive Director Don Capoldo said Wednesday.
“I felt like it was a really productive meeting and that for the first time, we heard alternatives come from the Plant Home,” Riverview Road resident Phyllis Bailey, who lives near the historic Washington Street mansion, said Thursday. “We’ve been saying the same thing for two years, and this is the first time we got something back that reflected that.”
Plans to expand the Plant Home, a 1917 waterfront mansion built as an assisted living and retirement home, have sparked resistance from neighbors, some of whom objected to the expansion being built on the northern side of the existing facility because they said it would block their views of the Kennebec River.
In December, the City Council voted to allow contract rezoning in a newly created Plant Home zone, but to date, no contract has been proposed.
At Tuesday’s workshop, representatives of the Plant Home presented conceptual plans that would reduce the proposed footprint of the addition but increase it to potentially four stories high, City Planner Andrew Deci said.
They also discussed shifting the building’s location north and closer to the existing building, possibly constructing an L-shaped structure that would “ wrap around” the current building.
Capoldo said Plant Home board president Dan Daggett met with some neighbors of the project and Planning Board members after Tuesday’s workshop, and they “were really open to using the contract zone to go higher and reduce the footprint. Not all (of the neighbors) were there, but the ones who were said, ‘We absolutely want you to go higher and reduce the footprint.’ … The neighbors would also like the building tucked in a little bit behind the existing Plant Home and we changed the angle a little bit so it doesn’t interrupt view sheds.”
Bailey said she was encouraged by the discussion, including talk of a more compact footprint, even if that means the building would have to be “a little higher.”
The smaller footprint means shorter hallways for older adults to traverse, she said.
“I was very heartened,” she said. “I was very encouraged. I felt like, at least there has been some movement, because it needs to be a design that serves the population they have in mind. I think they’re on their way.”
Capoldo said he directed his designers to have a “mock-up” of a new design ready for viewing at the Plant Home’s Valentine’s Day gala Saturday evening. He hopes to formally present those plans to the Planning Board at its March meeting.
“We look forward to going back … with a totally different proposal, based on everything that we heard,” he said. “I’m quite confident that this next design we will bring forward is going to get a lot of support.”