Camden voters approve increased size for signs, businesses
Camden — Camden voters decided on two local ordinance changes at the polls Nov. 6 — one addressing changes to the town's sign ordinance and another seeking to allow non-conforming businesses a one-time, 30 percent expansion.
Both proposed ordinance changes were approved with a comfortable margin. Article 2 on the ballot — Article 11 addressing signs — passed with a 1,772 to 1,186 vote and Article 3 — town Article 6 outlining zoning for nonconforming businesses — also was approved with a 1,704 to 1,135 margin.
In the weeks leading up to the election, both sides increased their presence with road-side signs and speakers during public meetings.
In a memo to Town Manager Patricia Finnigan, Code Enforcement Officer Steve Wilson summarized the proposed changes to Article 11. According to Wilson's memo, increased sign size will be allowed in several areas. "Changeable signs," also frequently referred to blackboard signs, will increase to 3-square-feet from the existing allowed 2-square-feet; home occupation businesses will be allowed within the Village and Village Extension districts to increase the size of signs from the existing 4 to 6-square-feet, as well as allowing a second, free-standing, up to 6-square-foot sign provided the speed limit is higher than 35 mph; and tradesman's shop located in the RU-2 (Rural 2) zone would be allowed two signs — “one free standing and one on-building sign with a combined area of 16-square-feet."
Changes to the sign ordinance were endorsed by several members of the planning board as well as Camden's Downtown Business Group in recent weeks. Selectman Leonard Lookner most vocally opposed the changes, saying larger or too many signs are not in the best interest of the future of Camden and would change the town's character.
Article 6 would impact less than a dozen existing businesses by allowing a one-time, up to 30 percent expansion with town board approval, provided those businesses are located within the B-1, B-2 or B-4 development zones. According to notes provided by Wilson, "No additional nonconformity can be created as part of the expansion and Site Plan Review may also be required for approval." Other changes to town Article 6 address wording and clarifications.