CAMDEN — The Select Board had a sometimes heated discussion with residents March 21 concerning a question on the June town meeting warrant over what to do with the tannery property.

The board also voted to approve a town meeting question that would change the charter to make budget voting by secret ballot going forward, and the board discussed a moratorium on piers and floats in the outer harbor.

An article proposed for the town meeting warrant asks residents to authorize the Select Board to enter into a purchase-and-sale agreement for the tannery property.

The agreement must include a central pavilion and gathering center, and flexible incubator workshop spaces, as provided in the Tannery Park Proposal from Cranesport, LLC, in 2020. It would continue availability for the farmers market, and the town retains ownership until completion of brownfields remediation.

Board member Marc Ratner said he was opposed because the town had agreed previously that voters would decide on the specifics. This is not a specific proposal, but gives the Select Board power to work out the agreement.

Vice Chair Alison McKellar said she would like to put something out to the voters. She said the town has for years been in discussions on this property and even if the residents voted down this proposal, that would provide better guidance for moving forward.

The board heard concerns from residents involved with the farmers market. The farmers market folks are concerned about parking and whether the makers’ village from the Cranesport plan is compatible with the market.

Tom Resek of the Friends of Tannery Park argued it should be retained as a town park for community use and environmental reasons. He said the question should be removed completely. For one thing, he argued the town had not reached an agreement with Mike Mullins for the Cranesport project, and the question does not have specifics for residents to approve. He said these questions would take the authority away from the voters and give it to the Select Board. He also said it goes against what has been promised to the voters. Stephen Gold also raised objections to the question being on the ballot.

Concerns were also raised about another article which gives the Select Board power to dispose of tax-acquired property. This is a boiler-plate item on town meeting warrants.

Yet another question in the proposed town meeting warrant would give power back to the voters concerning the tannery if the voters shoot down giving the authority to the Select Board for the Cranesport agreement. Town Manager Audra Caler argued this addresses some of Resek’s concerns.

McKellar argued residents can vote “no” on this and send a message, but this is based on 20 years of discussions about this property.

Paul Cartwright argued the question could be whether voters want a park and that the current wording pushes it in a specific direction. He had a lengthy back-and-forth discussion with the board members. He questioned several times why Mullins had not spoken to the farmers market people, raising his voice as he became angry about it.

Select Board member Sophie Romana said, “We are not raising our voices,” and Cartwright apologized.

Mike Mullins talked briefly about his goal to create some economic development as an entrepreneur.

In other business, the board voted 4-0 on the following order:

“Whereas, the Voters of Town of Camden have, by straw poll, endorsed a Charter Amendment to provide for using Secret Ballot voting …for adoption of the annual budget; …BE IT RESOLVED, the Select Board hereby Orders that the final form of the proposed Amendment to the Camden Charter …shall be placed as a Warrant Article before the Voters for approval at the June 14, 2022, Annual Town Meeting.”

The next discussion item was a proposed 180-day moratorium on piers, docks and floats in the outer harbor. The starting date would be March 15, according to the draft of the question.

“This Moratorium Ordinance shall not apply to real property on which commercial marina operations exist as of the effective date. This Moratorium Ordinance shall not apply to routine repairs or maintenance of existing piers, docks, floats or ramps located within the Outer Harbor.”

A copy of the proposed moratorium is available for review in the town clerk’s office and on the town’s website at www.camdenmaine.gov.

Board Chair Bob Falciani wanted to make sure that would not impact the Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding harbor project.

Planning and Development Director Jeremy Martin said there is an application for a pier out on outer Bay View Street in process, which he believes would not fall under the moratorium.

McKellar raised concerns about losing public access, noting that piers, once approved are there forever. She also worried that the moratorium not going back far enough could mean a flurry of applications for piers coming in before the moratorium goes into effect.

The Select Board asked Martin to make some changes to the wording of the moratorium question, which will be looked at again at a future meeting.

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