Mary Rockefeller Morgan wants to install a funicular to take her up the hill to her home on Cooksey Drive in Seal Harbor. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Variance sought for home access



MOUNT DESERT — Mary Rockefeller Morgan is asking the town to let her install a small funicular – a cable car on a track – to facilitate access to her seasonal home, Ferncliff, on Cooksey Drive in Seal Harbor.

The only place to park a vehicle is at street level at the bottom of the hillside lot.

The lower end of the proposed funicular would not comply with a requirement of the town’s land use ordinance that structures be at least 30 feet inside the front property line. Morgan, 78, is seeking a “disability variance” from that rule, and the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals will meet May 24 to consider the request.

Morgan is the daughter of the late New York Governor and U.S. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and the granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller Jr.

She is a clinical social worker and psychotherapist who specializes in bereavement counseling, working particularly with people who have lost a twin. Her own twin brother, Michael, disappeared and is presumed to have died while on an expedition in New Guinea in 1961.

In 2012, she published a book titled, “When Grief Calls Forth the Healing: A Memoir of Losing a Twin.”

Morgan is being represented before the town by landscape architect Dennis Bracale. He wrote in the request for a variance from the setback rule that if she is not allowed to install the funicular, she may have to sell the house.

The six-bedroom house on Cooksey Drive was built in 1895. Together with the four-fifths acre lot, it is assessed for tax purposes at $2.35 million. The legal owner of the property is the Mary R. Morgan Trust.

Morgan’s primary residence is in New York.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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