Camden voters turn out in droves: McKellar, Falciani, Lookner elected to select board, new middle school bond approved
CAMDEN — More than 1,700 Camden voters lined up on a sweltering June 13, with temperatures pushing 90, to elect three new select board members.
Four candidates were vying for two three-year seats on the Camden Select Board, and as the initial tallies were read off the voting machines at around 8:15 p.m., Alison McKellar and Robert A. Falciani had won garnering 1,177 and 662 votes respectively. Christian Wincklhofer came in third with 559 votes followed by incumbent Donald A. White with 350 votes.
Two candidates were on the ballot for the one-year term on the Select Board, which became open this year after the unexpected death of Leonard Lookner. Lookner’s daughter, Jenna Lookner, won the seat Tuesday night with 1,067 votes, with Stephen Beveridge earning 565 votes.
Town voters also approved the Middle School bond question, both school budgets and the adoption of the 2017 Comprehensive Plan.
Camden also voted in favor of the State Bond issue, 1,298 to 411.
Camden voters will also consider June 13 a nonbinding referendum concerning the use of marijuana in town. As of 8:45 p.m., town election officials had not yet tallied the ballots for the nonbinding question.
The questions asked follow a a six-month moratorium on marijuana sales and social clubs that was enacted last winter. After a substantial discussion, however, the town amended its original moratorium language to assign a committee to gather public input on ordinances related to retail and marijuana social clubs while the moratorium is underway.
The questions on the referendum ask Camden citizens their opinion on whether the town should altogether prohibit marijuana sales, prohibit marijuana social clubs, or adopt ordinances designating where such activities could occur.
This is the marijuana ballot: Non-Binding Advisory Ballot
Proposed Middle School Project and School budgets
The biggest school ballot proposal concerns the proposed Middle School project and the $25.2 million bond to demolish and build a new school on Knowlton Street.
Camden voters approved the bond question, 1,278 to 499.
The ballot questions asks voters:
“Do you favor authorizing [SAD 28] to issue bonds or notes in the name of the district form school construction purposes in an amount not to exceed $25,200,000 to construct and equip a fifth- through eighth-grade middle school on the site of the existing Camden-Rockport Middle School, as described in greater detail below (‘the Project’)?
“The Project includes the following elements:
“a. New Construction
“b. Demolition of the existing middle school facility.
“c. To the extent, if any, needed for the development of the Project on the existing site, acquisition and conveyance of easements and other interests in real property.”
Here is the ballot question: SAD 28 Referendum (school construction)
The 2017-2018 school budgets for both the Camden-Rockport K-8 schools, as well as the Camden Hills Regional High School, are also on the ballot.
The ballots are:
SAD 28 Validation Referendum - Passed by a vote of 1,448 to 276.
Camden will also consider approving its new comprehensive plan.
Voters approved adopting the proposed 2017 Comprehensive Plan, 1,187 to166
Over the last 10 years, the average age of the Camden resident has increased by seven years. Given that Maine is among the oldest states in the union, right up there with Arizona and West Virginia, and the whitest, Camden is reflecting the state. But does Camden want to continue on that path? Market forces determine how an economy gets shaped, but so does public policy, and that’s where Camden citizens hold some sway over the future of their community.
“It’s important to plan for the town’s future,” said Camden Planning Board Chairman Lowrie Sargent, earlier this year, talking about the comprehensive plan. “Things will happen that you don’t anticipate, but there are questions to answer. Do we want to continue to attract young people to town now?”
If so, how?
It is time, said Sargent, to address those fundamental issues, to agree on a plan, and to get the comp plan implemented. He and the committee are recommending that the Select Board form an implementation committee for the plan, if and when voters approve it.
The plan is a guidebook, not a set of rules, wrote the comp plan contributors. But, it reflects the direction the town collectively wants to take.
Read more about the plan in “Camden, what’s your plan?”
American Boathouse, harbor and waterways ordinance amendments
Camden residents will also see on their June 13 ballot several zoning and land use initiatives.
The American Boathouse zoning amendments concern a project to convert an historic boathouse to a residence. Cynthia and John Reed hope to renovate and transform an old cedar-shingled boathouse at the head of Camden Harbor into a home, but they need voter approval to proceed. Currently, the American Boathouse sits empty next to the Camden Harbor Park at 15 Atlantic Ave., a vestige of the town’s rusticator heritage. Built in 1904, its warps are becoming more pronounced, as its settles further into the the frost-heaved ground.
The Reeds want to buy it and spend approximately $5 million rebuilding it from stem to stern, and convert its use to a residence, with room underneath for a yacht. They need, however, to change town ordinance so that the zone in which the boathouse sits – Harbor Business District – will allow residential development at the first floor level. The purpose of the Harbor Business District is: “to preserve and maintain for the citizens of Camden the character of Camden Harbor, including its scenic value and views from the land, its accessibility to the public, and its economic value for functionally water-dependent uses.”
And, Camden voters will consider an amendment to the town’s Harbor and Waterways ordinance that adds language to allow commercial marinas established before June 13, 2017 to extend their docks. This is to accommodate a Lyman-Morse at Wayfarer dock reconfiguration/extension.
Other warrant articles include