After months of delays, the City Council is going to vote next week on a request to rezone a parcel of land to allow for a major retirement community.

In a special meeting Monday night (Jan. 23), the council will vote on Sandy River Health System’s request to rezone a 53-acre parcel of land between Stroudwater and Spring streets for a 200-unit retirement community.

Sandy River, operators of the Springbrook Nursing Care Center, has requested the city rezone the land from rural to residential growth area 1 – 53 acres of land it plans to purchase from the Animal Refuge League for a retirement community. Sandy River officials have said the change is necessary because the current zoning does not allow for enough housing to make the project worthwhile. The current zoning for the site allows for only one unit per acre.

The planned community will include almost 200 units. It will include one-level condominiums for those seeking a measure of independence but in a home more tailored to their special needs, an apartment complex for those with somewhat more advanced needs, and the existing nursing home for those needing full-time care.

The zone change was originally brought before the council in August. Instead of voting on the question then, councilors tabled it and referred the matter to the council’s Economic and Community Development Committee for further discussion.

On Dec. 5, committee members decided to not send the zone change to the full council because Councilor Drew Gattine, who represents the ward where the project is located, was out of state on business.

Gattine has expressed concern about how the project, which would most likely include a connector road linking Spring and Stroudwater streets, would affect the already congested traffic on Spring Street. While Council President Brendan Rielly said he was inclined to support the project, he was reticent to proceed with a vote without Gattine being present.

Sandy River officials have expressed some frustration by the council’s delays, which they have said is costing the company money and could potentially jeopardize the project. However, they have said that they respect the council’s decision to wait until Gattine can be present.

The City Council meeting will be held Monday night (Jan. 23) at 7 p.m. in room 114 of Westbrook High School.

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