ALFRED — The Alfred Planning Board on Sept. 18 first voted to deny York County government’s application for a substance use recovery center on property it owns on Route 4, on grounds the application was for more beds than the town’s zoning ordinance allows. Later that evening, the board rescinded the vote and tabled the matter.

The tabling gives the county time to present its point that the recovery center meets the town’s requirements and gives the Alfred Planning Board an opportunity to consult with its legal counsel.

The substance use recovery center is intended to replace the county’s existing Layman Way Recovery Center, which opened in 2018. Layman Way is licensed for 36 beds — it was approved prior to Alfred adopting the 30-bed ordinance in June 2019. The Layman Way facility was designed as a six-month residential jail diversion program for screened, nonviolent people charged with crimes and it operates in collaboration with York County Shelter Programs. The new recovery center would see a 58-bed facility that includes eight observation beds as part of the total. The facility would include detox beds — there are currently none in the county — and a combination of short-, medium- and long-term residential beds with a maximum of a person stayint up to 270 days. The recovery center is intended to be open to York County residents and would rely largely on MaineCare reimbursements for operational costs.

Planning Board Chair Michael Cerbone told York County government officials that voting the application as complete — which would have moved it on to the next step in the planning process — would have given an air of Planning Board support for the project.

“My concern is the size of the facility,” said Cerbone.

Earlier in the evening, the Planning Board unanimously voted that an application for a separate York County government project — a first responder training center — also on a county-owned lot near York County Jail, was complete. The Planning Board set a site walk for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 16 for that project and will schedule a public hearing at a later date.


The recovery center and training center building projects are financed primarily through York County’s allocation of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, federal congressionally directed funding, opioid settlement funds, county funds and the like. Together the recovery center and the first responder center projects are estimated to cost $45 million.

The tabling decision came following a lengthy discission as county government officials appeared before the Planning Board for the vote on whether the application was complete.

Planning Board member Al Carlson said it was — but that the county was asking for something not allowed.

The initial vote taken was to deny the application, based, according to the motion advanced by Carlson, “as it stands today.”

York County Manager Greg Zinser asked the Planning Board to hold the record open for a short period to allow the county to submit additional information as to grandfathering, land lots and other matters he indicated would allow the recovery project — information that would be considered part of the record should the matter arrive on the desk of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

In the end, the Planning Board rescinded the denial vote, and voted to table — thus leaving room for the county to submit more information and for the Planning Board to consult its attorney.


“We want to give you fair opportunity,” said Cerbone.

The Maine Drug Data Hub, a collaboration between the state and University of Maine, reported 622 non-fatal and 43 fatal overdoses in York County from Jan. 1 through July 31. In July alone, there were 103 non-fatal overdoses and seven fatal overdoses reported in York County.

Referring to the training center and the recovery center, Zinser told the Planning Board that public safety and substance use are tied together. “Our first responders respond – but there’s no place to bring people,” he said.

Those involved in the recovery community have said the project is needed.

“This is something very unique for Maine and could be a model for other counties,” said Kennebunk Police Chief Robert MacKenzie in a prior interview. “To my knowledge there is nothing like it, and it is much needed. To have it in one space is incredible.”

“It is a substantial response to a substantial problem,” Zinser said.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: