CAMDEN — Members of the Save the Dam Falls Committee submitted a letter to the town discussing the option of setting their own town meeting to deal with a question the Select Board refused to place on the ballot.

Committee members turned in 21 pages of petition signatures representing more than 500 registered voters on Feb. 22 at the town office.

They wanted Camden voters to decide the question at the June 14 town meeting, “Shall the Town of Camden protect, preserve, maintain, and repair the existing Montgomery Dam near Harbor Park in Camden?”

On April 5, the Select Board voted to throw out this petition and a competing question in a petition submitted by the group Restore Megunticook.

Save the Dam Falls Committee members consulted an attorney and learned there is recourse from the Select Board’s decision. A notary public can call for a town meeting in the town on behalf of citizens.

It is almost like the difference between a citizen’s arrest and one made by professional police officers.

However, the town’s registrar of voters still has to be involved. Ballot clerks are still needed. A moderator has to be voted in for the meeting, ballots have to be made up and absentee ballots have to be available 30 days before voting.

The citizen-initiated town meeting still comes at an expense to the town in terms of paying for all these things.

This action has not been taken in Camden in the memory of current staff. However, the option is noted in the manual town clerks consult to do their jobs.

The letter was forwarded to the town’s attorney, Bill Kelly, for review.

The town may not be able to ignore this petition going forward.

Here is the text of the May 4 letter to Town Clerk Katrina Oakes from Ken Gross, Tom Rothwell and Ronald Hawkins:

“Attached you will find a written petition for a warrant article to be placed before the voters of the Town of Camden at the next ballot printed or call a special town meeting for its consideration. The Town must print these ballots and make them available to absentee voters. The Town Selectboard has refused to call a special town meeting or to place this warrant article at its annual town meeting. Title 30-A M.R.S.A. Section 72121 Subparagraph 4 states:

“Petition by voters, if selectboard refuses. If the selectboard unreasonably refuses to call a town meeting, a notary public may call the meeting by written petition of the number of voters equal to 10% of the number of votes cast in the Town of Camden in the last gubernatorial election under no case, less than 10.

“We seek to call a meeting at a time most convenient to the town. At this town meeting we will need the town clerk, and registrar of voters along with arrangements to hold the meeting at the Camden Fire Station at its discretion. Please let me know your response.”

Camden’s waterfront May 5. Photo by Daniel Dunkle