Planning Board sets submission deadline
Camden — Following several weeks of discussion, Planning Board members defined new written submission guidelines June 19.
The new guidelines require letters and emails to the board be submitted no later than noon the Friday before the Planning Board meeting. Written submissions must be signed, dated and pages numbered. The guidelines apply to comments intended to be included as part of the record for a public hearing.
"They can't come walking up here five minutes before the hearing starts," Chairman Lowrie Sargent said.
The move was spurred by massive amounts of written communication to the Planning Board regarding two proposals -- Fox Hill and Windward House, both requesting special exception zoning changes.
Sargent said the new guidelines for written communications are expected to be posted on the town website, as are the written submissions to the Planning Board.
There was some debate regarding an appropriate deadline, but board members ultimately chose to follow the example of the Select Board, which also has a submission deadline of Friday at noon before its Tuesday meeting.
It also was decided residents who chose to address the Planning Board during public hearings will not be allowed to simply read a previously submitted letter, or one written by another person. Those speaking may reference a submitted letter as long as it is not read word-for-word. Sargent likened the process to the second part of public hearings, during which the public is asked if they have anything new to add.
But not all Planning Board members were in agreement.
"We've read the materials, that's fine. ... The purpose of the public hearing is to have a back and forth," John Scholz said.
"We're not taking away his rights," Richard Householder countered.
Richard Barnhart noted part of the board's mission is to be open and encourage public participation.
As has been practice, speakers will be limited to three minutes, though the Planning Board plans to more strictly enforce the time limit going forward.
"I encourage people who are longer talkers to practice at home," Sargent said.
Planning Board members also briefly discussed allowing PowerPoint presentations by members of the public as well. Anyone hoping to do so should make plans well in advance to ensure equipment is compatible, Code Enforcement Officer Steve Wilson said.
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Stephanie is editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. She previously served as editor of Camden Herald following its return in April 2012.
Stephanie also was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has nearly a decade of experience in the newspaper business ranging from southern and central Maine to Waldo County.
Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.
Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and chickens.
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