Neighbors of the proposed luxury rehab center at Fox Hill, the former MBNA executive retreat on upper Bay View Street in Camden, turned out for a walk-though of the property on Wednesday, September 18, with developers, lawyers and the Camden Planning Board.

A zoning change, which would be specific to this property for the proposed use as a residential rehab facility, is required for the facility to operate and must be approved by a town-wide vote after a public hearing. There is no date scheduled for either.

Neighbors at the walk-through said they oppose, in principle, a zone change that would allow a commercial facility to operate in a residential zone.

The neighbors said they are used to having the road for walking dogs, running, and for kids on skateboards, and view upper Bay View Street primarly as a pedestrian thoroughfare that already has too much traffic.

Under the proposed zoning change, a 12-bed facility operated by McLean Hospital, the psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School, would use the existing 16,400-square-foot main residence on the property for client housing. No outpatient services would be allowed. No buildings would be added to the property and no significant alterations to existing buildings would be allowed.

McLean expects to have a staff of 20 people. Since Fox Hill has no cooking or laundry facilities, pre-made meals from area restaurants would be delivered and laundry taken off-site.Truck deliveries would be restricted to regular daytime hours.

The developers, Fox Hill Real Estate, said that traffic would be similar or less than that when MBNA used the property.

Rebecca Sawyer-Fay, who has lived on Lily Pond Drive for 13 years and currently has 10 acres for sale, is concerned that one zone change in the residential zone will lead to another.

"Our concern is once you say yes, how do you say no," said Sawyer-Fay.

Most of the neighbors that attended the walk-through cited increased traffic as their primary concern. Upper Bay View Street is a narrow two-way street that does not have sidewalks for pedestrian use.

"I know a lot of people say we are a bunch of NIMBY's -not in my backyard - but Bay View Street is the backyard for the whole town and even for people out in Lincoln-ville who want a safe place to run or take a walk," said Wynne Phelan, who has lived on the street since 1961.

Several neighbors who oppose the rehab facility said they pay their share to support the neighborhood. Peter Blake said his property taxes on less than a half-acre lot nearby are $23,000 a year.

Under current residential zoning, the 14-acre Fox Hill estate could be subdivided into multiple house lots.

Abutter David Hague said residential development would be preferable, noting there is a place for this type of rehab facility in Camden, but not in an exclusive residential zone.

"Business has its place," he said. "With this kind of money, they could do this anywhere."

The next Camden Planning Board meeting is at 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 3, at the Washington Street conference room of the Camden Town Office.