Four Select Board members supported the Millville workforce housing and Cranesport workshops for entrepreneurs proposals for the tannery lot, and asked for more information on each.

They plan to vote March 23 on one proposal to send to voters in June.

The Board also decided March 9 that June town meeting will be done by paper ballot again this year, as it was done in 2020.

Taylor Benzie, Jenna Lookner, Chairman Bob Falciani and Vice Chairwomen Alison McKellar agreed March 9 on their preference for the Northland and Cranesport proposals.

Both proposals include a home for the Camden Farmers' Market on the lot. Mullins plans to build a large barn on the property for the Market.

Marc Ratner was the only board member to say he does not feel justified in picking a proposal for the June ballot, because he sees more work needs to be done on each of the four proposals submitted to the town.

The four board members also agreed they need more information to prepare for their next meeting, when they plan to choose one proposal for a public vote.

They asked Town Manager Audra Caler and Planning and Development Director Jeremy Martin to provide answers to a list of questions they have.

March 9 was the first time Select Board members shared their opinions about the proposals, which were received by the town in October 2020.

Benzie spoke in favor of Northland's 'Millville apartments' with affordable rents for households with incomes in the $25,000 to $45,000 range. The three-story building will contain from 35 to 50 apartments.

Housing affordability in Camden and the area is a huge problem. It is mentioned 25 times in the Comprehensive Plan, he said.

The Northlands proposal "addresses affordable housing in the most impactful way," he said. "Not addressing this in a meaningful way with the tannery property would be a huge missed opportunity," he said.

There are questions that need to be answered in detail, he said.

While referencing work community groups have done in 2005 and 2016 to figure out how to best use the property, he said current priorities are what are important now.

In comparison to the need for affordable housing in Camden, he characterized the Friends of the Park and Cranesport proposals as a want.

Before summing up, he pivoted, saying the Cranesport is beneficial to the economy and provides new space that does not currently exist in Camden for public events.

He wants to see work done with the Northlands and Cranesport developers in the two weeks before the March 23 meeting, to better equip board members to make a decision.

McKellar agreed with Benzie about the urgency to develop affordable housing. The fact that the Northland proposal needs about two acres and a place with water, sewer and power to make 50 units of affordable housing, is incredibly exciting, she said.

She also feels people should have a chance to vote on the Cranesport proposal for a number of reasons. One is that the proposal complies with the current zoning for the lot.

Others reasons are the history of the town's investment in cleaning up environmental pollution on the lot and voting every year at town meeting on seven guiding principles for the property related to economic development, shows it is meant to be a commercial property, she said.

Lookner said she agrees with what Benzie and McKellar said. She sees aspects of all of the proposals she likes and aspects of some of them she very much dislikes, she said.

"I believe that refining and exploring and making a decision on March 23 about what to send forward with voters, with a finer point on it, is the correct action tonight."

Falciani very strongly supports the Northland proposal, as well as putting something on the ballot in June.

Housing is what is needed in Camden, he said. There are a lot of people frustrated with trying to find a place to live in Camden for many reasons, to put their children through school here, or to downsize in their retirement years from a large house.

Putting this off is a mistake," he said. "It's been put off for too long."

He indicated agreement with Benzie and McKellar, as well as Ratner’s point about needing more information from proposers.

Falciani asked Caler and Martin to help ‘put more flesh on the bone’ regarding possible developer agreements with Northland and Cranesport so the board can make a logical decision March 23.

He asked board members to send to Caler what each one wants clarified or addressed in a development agreement. He asked if Caler was clear with the charge.

Caler said she and Martin need to understand "the outstanding questions that are really important to all of you as a group."

She also needs to know elements of the proposals each Board member wants to see changed, where they would not recommend the proposal to voters, if these things weren't changed.

Three members of the public requested to be brought into the Zoom meeting to speak.

Elinor Masin-Peters asked about the public process. She had assumed the four plans would be voted on by the town, but now sees five Board members plan to choose the plan to be voted on, she said

Falciani said there are complications with placing multiple items on the ballot for a vote.

Caler said they have been been advised by their attorney that secret ballot questions have to have a straight yes or no tally of votes. The questions can not have multiple choices, and the board cannot place competing measures on the ballot.

Paul Cartwright said it may be difficult to get people to support one proposal, when other proposals they want are not being offered. He said it will be difficult, when there are 'holes in all the proposals' and people may not have all the details they need.

When Steve Gold was brought into the meeting, Falciani said Gold would be last person to be brought into the meeting to speak.

Gold mentioned the list of questions the Board is going to get answered in the next two weeks. Regarding the Northland proposal, there has not been enough discussion and information about the financial impacts of the project, tax incentive financing and what it's going to cost, he said.