Planning Board members learned May 6 they may receive assistance from state and regional sources with updating zoning ordinances and the Comprehensive Plan to prepare for sea level rise.

The Planning Board has held several workshops about how to tackle the revision of town ordinances and documents to prepare for the impacts of climate change on private property and public infrastructure.

Planning and Development Director Jeremy Martin has contacted the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission for help with resources to guide the Planning Board's work.

Its director of land use planning has offered support for Camden obtaining a municipal planning grant from the state, as well as guidance from an expert on sea level rise, Martin said.

Martin mentioned Abbey Sherwin as an expert who has assisted many communities, including Vinalhaven, with dealing with the effects of climate change. Sherwin is Senior Planner and Coastal Resilience Coordinator with the Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission.

Martin put into words what Planning Board members ran into as they began looking at varying predictions on sea level rise in the near term and more distant future.

"There’s a lot to dig into," he said. "It’s a big nut to crack."

His hope is "to work with an entity that’s done this in a lot of communities and will guide us through this process."

Planning Board Chairman Ethan Shaw asked members if they had any questions for Martin.

Pat Chen asked what the Planning Board's role would be. Martin explained Sherwin would not be doing the work for Camden. The board will work with her and be involved, he said.

Mark Siegenthaler supports the approach. "It's a good point to not reinvent the wheel and to work with people who have done this numerous times," he said.

"This is something I was hoping Camden would do,” Anita Brosius-Scott said. “I did not feel we had the expertise to approach this problem.”

Matthew Siegel agreed with Siegenthaler and Brosius-Scott in terms of the approach. "There are many experts in the state and we can benefit from their knowledge. It will help us move forward efficiently and effectively," he said.

Shaw sees changes on the Comprehensive Plan going through the Planning Board, and the Board reviewing changes to zoning ordinances.

Chen also asked about the August deadline for getting anything on the November ballot.

The August deadline is set in stone, Martin explained. While there may be things the Planning Board can move on quickly for the November ballot, Martin said the work other communities have done shows revising town ordinances to address sea level rise can be a longer process.

"Overall, a good comprehensive plan update on climate change and sea level rise will take some time. I don’t want to rush it," he said. "The topic impacts a lot of different areas and property owners. I don’t think anything we do in Camden should be done quickly or in the cover of darkness if you will. It needs to be very transparent. Voters expect that.”