CAMDEN — The Planning Board decided to continue its planned April 7 public hearing on a proposed pier off Bay View Street until 5 p.m. May 12.

The board met via Zoom on April 7.

Planning and Development Director Jeremy Martin said the 135-foot pier proposed by Betsy Sherman at 260 Bay View Street has been in the works for three years.

That said, some politics have recently developed around pier development in the town. In March, a Sherman Cove pier that had been approved by the Planning Board went on to the Select Board for approval. At that meeting Select Board Vice Chair Alison McKellar raised concerns that piers could mean closing off public access to the water, with property owners tending to put up “no trespassing” signs. In addition, she questioned whether the projects should go to the Select Board before going to the Planning Board and Harbor Committee. She also raised concerns about the impact of piers on kayakers.

Since that meeting, the Select Board has placed a question on the June town meeting ballot to see if the town will place a 180-day moratorium on pier projects with the effective date starting March 15.

Martin did not go into all of these developments in detail, but noted that the moratorium had been put on the ballot and that the order in which piers are reviewed by various boards has been called into question.

He noted the Harbor Committee has recommended approving the Bay View Street pier.

He said that “due to the politics of it all,” it seemed prudent to move the discussion of the pier to another date.

Martin also said the timeframe for adjusting ordinances to deal with a number of concerns about pier projects could be somewhat tight because if the residents approve the moratorium of 180 days in June, by then, with the moratorium stretching back to March 15, only about 90 days will remain to make the proposed amendments.

The amendments may take into account issues of sea level rise, concerning the height of piers, and ecological concerns.

The ordinance changes might come to the town in an emergency town meeting or in November.

The board will also plan on a workshop to discuss changes that need to be made due to sea level rise and how that may affect the allowed height of buildings on the harbor. Martin said the ordinance could be amended to set a certain number of feet in height above the water level for projects that involve a substantial improvement to the buildings.

Martin and Planning Board members also talked about the need for a workshop on the topic of short-term rentals. Martin noted that Select Board members had raised concerns that with changes in ordinances aimed at allowing more affordable housing, more short-term rental development could result.

He also noted that the town’s current short-term rental registration policy was not enforceable. At this point, the town has to pretty much rely on the good faith of residents to comply with the policy.

Short-term rentals cause a number of concerns in coastal communities throughout Maine. Members of the lodging industry complain that these rentals are not as heavily regulated as inns, hotels and bed-and-breakfast operations.

Individuals who do not live in the area buying up local properties and renting them out on a short-term basis can result in lack of rentals for local workers, driving up home prices, decreasing affordable housing in the area, and erosion of the local neighborhoods and the community’s character.

The problem in Camden so far has not been a lot of disruption from noise associated with short-term rentals, but in some communities regulation has been put in place to avoid absent owners or “unhosted” short-term rentals, the idea being that local owners have to face their neighbors.

Ethan Shaw of the Planning Board said Cape Elizabeth, for example, has a “draconian” short-term rental ordinance.

The board will have a Zoom workshop on this issue April 12 at 3:30 p.m.

In other business, the board plans to hold a site walk and pre-application discussion at Hannaford April 14 at 1 p.m. concerning the retailer’s plans for a small Clynk bottle-return shed. Martin said it would be tucked in the right corner of the parking lot near the side street access.

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