Camden votes to reduce polystyrene; passes new rules for blasting

By Susan Mustapich | Nov 07, 2017
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Residents gathered to vote the morning of Nov. 7 at the Camden Public Safety building.

Camden — At the polls Nov. 7, Camden voters agreed to ban polystyrene from the town's rivers, lakes, harbor and coastal waters and to regulate blasting.

Voters also agreed to authorize the town's Planning Board to require applicants proposing construction of non-residential buildings and multifamily buildings larger than 1,000 square feet, or large earthwork projects, such as paving or grading, to conduct professional studies and show proof of technical capacity, in order secure site plan approval.

Polystyrene ban

Voters approved, 1,359 to 335, a new ordinance banning unencapsulated polystyrene in docks, floats and buoys on Camden's lakes, rivers, harbors and coastal waters. Blocks of polystyrene are used for flotation under docks and floats. When the flotation material is encased in a hard plastic shell, it is encapsulated.

The ordinance will prohibit the use of unencapsulated polystyrene in new floats, docks and buoys, and require the phase-out of all existing unencapsulated polystyrene within five years of the passage of the ordinance.

The Camden Conservation Commission introduced the idea of banning polystrene in March, as one of several measures to improve water quality in the town. Polystyrene is a soft plastic material that breaks down over time into small pieces, shreds and beads, which do not further biodegrade. The material can kill wildlife if eaten or swallowed.

In March, the Select Board gave the green light to developing an ordinance to ban the use of unencapsulated polystyrene in Camden's waters, and directed Town Attorney Bill Kelly to prepare the ordinance language.


Voters approved, 1,412 to 282, a new ordinance to protect individuals and structures from the effects of blasting noise, dust and vibration.

Any blasting with explosives will require a permit. Blasting and removal of 300 cubic yards or less will require approval by the code officer in consultation with the chief of police.

Blasting and removal of more than 300 yards of material will require review and approval by the Planning Board. The location of the blasting, number of blasts required for the work and hours and dates will have to be specified on the application to the Planning Board. Additionally, interior and exterior inspections of structures located within a 250-foot radius of the blasting location, and water samples from wells within that same radius, will be required prior to blasting.

The code officer must be notified of the time range and location of blasting at least 24 hours prior to permitted blasting. At least 10 days prior to blasting, the person responsible will be required to notify all property owners within 500 feet of the blasting location. Date, time and place of blasting must be published in either the print or online edition of a local newspaper of general circulation.

Blasting will be limited to daylight hours, no earlier than 8 a.m. and no later than 5 p.m.

Site plan review

Voters approved 1,130 to 432, allowing the Planning Board to require from applicants additional professional geotechnical, hydrological, engineering, planning or legal consulting services, as part of a site plan application. A two-thirds majority vote of Planning Board members present is required in order to request the services, and can only be requested when the board determines there is a need for the information in order to "fully understand and evaluate the application and when the subject matter at hand exceeds the expertise of town staff," according to the text of the ordinance.

Voters approved 1,110 to 438, allowing the Planning Board to require applicants to provide evidence of technical capacity to complete work described in the site plan application, and to require evidence of technical capacity of professionals who supervise, construct and inspect the work described in the application.

Road discontinuance order

Voters approved 1,514 to 210, a petition for discontinuance of a portion of Route 52, which no longer serves as a public access for any property other than those of Tobias and Isabella Wincklhofer and Stephen and Cheryl Beveridge.

Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at

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