BLUE HILL, Maine — Work on the new Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital started this week, but the $27 million project might have a slight snag if a neighbor’s appeal gains any traction.
Jane and Samuel Nesbitt, who own a house that abuts the hospital, appealed the town’s approval of the hospital plans last week. The couple contends that Northern Light’s current and planned use of a road that leads into the hospital breaks a restriction in a 50-year-old deed.
The road that connects the hospital to Parker Point Road sits on a strip of land that the hospital obtained in 1972, according to the appeal. The deed for the property stipulated that there would be no permanent structures on the land and the hospital would maintain the grounds for general residential purposes.
When the Nesbitts bought their home on Parker Point Road in 1983, the hospital road was a dirt track. Because of the restriction, they were under the impression that it would stay that way and be used for emergency fire access.
But over the years, the dirt track has been built up into its current form of a paved road, leading to increased traffic and drainage issues at the Nesbitt home.
The Nesbitts said the hospital’s current and planned use of the road is for commercial, not general residential purposes, putting it in conflict with the deed.
“The Hospital has ignored the restrictive covenants of the deed for many years and the issue was not brought to the Town’s attention in any of the plans submitted by the Hospital,” the Nesbitts’ attorneys wrote in the April 6 appeal. “In short, the Hospital has no legal right to maintain a commercial ‘access’ road as indicated on the plan.”
The issue could be resolved if the hospital returned the road back to its original condition, according to the appeal.
Northern Light has been talking to the Nesbitts for months and planned to ask the Blue Hill Board of Appeals if there was merit to the appeal and whether the board has jurisdiction over the issues raised by the neighbors, said Kelley Columber, a hospital spokesperson.
This isn’t the first time the Nesbitts have brought the concern to the town. The Planning Board approved the hospital’s commercial site plan in February. At that meeting, Jane Nesbitt said that since the dirt track had been built up, she started to get water in her basement that had never been there before.
The site plan was approved on the condition that the hospital evaluate and address drainage issues at the road and a nearby building that was erected to handle COVID testing and vaccinations. It was not clear Tuesday if that had been addressed yet.
In the appeal, the Nesbitts said the failure of the hospital to comply with the deed has resulted in flooding on their property.
Construction on the new hospital started on Monday. The company has said the new facility, which is being built at the existing campus, will help modernize their services and replace a century old hospital that has required frequent and costly repairs as of late.
Expected to be completed next year, the new facility will have a full-service emergency department, imaging and lab services, rehabilitation services and specialty care.
The Nesbitt’s appeal is one of the first the town has had to handle in years. Select Board member Scott Miller couldn’t remember one going back about a decade. There’s a vacant seat on the appeals board that the Select Board needs to fill as well, and Miller said he was reaching out to the current members to make them aware that they were being called into service.