CAMDEN — Select Board Vice Chair Alison McKellar raised concerns that a planned 106-foot pier at Sherman Cove would interfere with public access to the water during a meeting March 1.

Despite her arguments, the Select Board voted 3-1 to approve the project.

Previously, on Jan. 20, the Camden Planning Board voted 4-1 to approve the residential pier extending into Sherman Cove from 26 Harbor Road.

William Gartley of Gartley & Dorsky Engineering & Surveying presented the plans for the pier for owners John Rixon and Mary Kelley. The plan includes a seasonal gangway and a 240-square-foot float.

McKellar argued the cove is a town treasure and ecological oasis and said she is concerned that private property owners in the area have a history of posting “no trespassing” signs and preventing public access to the water.

She also noted that documents on the project said it would mean moving a mooring. She said people wait a long time to acquire moorings in Camden and she was concerned about taking away that public access.

Select Board member Marc Ratner said he would prefer to see fewer piers in the harbor as well, but said he had to divide his personal feelings from the process. The applicants followed all of the rules, he said, and he could not see how the board could change the rules.

Board member Sophie Romana also said the applicants followed the process to the letter and it would be unfair to change the rules on them at this point. She also noted that neighbors of the project had actually voiced support for the pier.

McKellar raised several concerns including that she worried kayakers that like to stick close to shore for safety would be impeded by the structure.

On the issue of moving the mooring, there was some debate among town officials. Harbor Master Steve Pixley was contacted to shed light on the issue, but could not come through via internet clearly. At one point he held up a sticky note to the effect that there was not an issue with the mooring. McKellar questioned that being a good process in the meeting.

Gartley argued there was no chance of moorings in the area of the pier anyway because it is too shallow. The one mooring affected is further out and might have to be moved a small distance to avoid tides swinging the vessel into the pier.

There was some debate on how much of a move for the mooring is “significant.”

It was stated that the project could be approved with conditions, and this was dealt with during the approval of motions to create the “findings of fact.”

The board voted 3-1 on the condition that the project not eliminate or interfere substantially with existing moorings or anchorage. McKellar was the opposing vote.

A motion to require the owners not to post signs interfering with public access to the water failed by a vote of 2-2.

McKellar argued valuable space was being lost to the public forever and said the town fails to push back when private property owners try to take away this public access. She said people are being kept off beaches in Maine.

The board decided instead to request rather than require the owners to refrain from posting signs that would discourage public access.

In other business, the board voted to approve placing a proposed zoning ordinance before voters to require erosion control measures when disturbing soil. McKellar said she would like to take out exemptions for agriculture, and it was not needed since the state law protects farming operations anyway. It was approved 4-0 with that change.

The board also approved confirmation of two new Camden Public Library Trustees — Natalie Travia and Jennifer Gromada.

The Select Board had voted 3-1 at the previous meeting to table confirming the new trustees.

Select Board Chair Robert Falciani said at the time the board had not been given adequate time to vet the new members of the trustees with the bio information only arriving one day before the meeting. He said he did not want to rubber stamp the appointments.

Ratner had disagreed. He said it was not a matter of rubber stamping, just trusting the library officials to do their job. He said the board should approve the confirmations that night and voted against the motion to table.

Now the trustees have been confirmed. McKellar said during the March 1 meeting she would like to see trustees’ contact information offered to the public.

 

 

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