Neighbors, North East officials to meet

By Stephanie Grinnell | Aug 19, 2014
Photo by: Stephanie Grinnell The town-owned lot at 116 Washington Street is the site of a former tannery and may be purchased by North East Mobile Health Services.

Camden — A meeting between residents of the Millville area of Camden and officials from North East Mobile Health Services has been set for Thursday, Aug. 21, at 8 p.m. in the Tucker Room at Camden Opera House. The meeting is open to the public.

Neighbors last week began to speak out about the potential purchase of the former Apollo Tannery site on Washington Street by the regional ambulance service; several residents addressed Selectmen during an open comment period Aug. 12.

A group of neighbors are opposed to the ambulance service relocating the area for several reasons, including the potential noise and safety hazards created by fast-moving ambulances, according to Rawson Avenue resident Tom Resek. He said neighbors have retained a lawyer to represent them and help present other options.

"Our numbers are growing," Resek said Aug. 19.

Selectmen during a special meeting Aug. 5 authorized Town Manager Patricia Finnigan to negotiate with North East for purchase of the town-owned property. The nearly 3-acre parcel has been owned by the town since 2003, when it was acquired for non-payment of taxes. In the decade since, several marketing efforts have been employed without success. Finnigan previously said North East does not wish to take advantage of the most recent tactic — free land for jobs. It is anticipated the purchase price will be close to the town's stated valuation of the property, approximately $75,000.

Currently, North East is based in Rockport near State of Maine Cheese Co. in a leased building officials have previously described as too small to meet both emergency and medical transport needs. North East was hired by Camden, Lincolnville, Rockport and part of Hope to provide emergency medical service in 2013 when Camden First Aid Association was forced to close its doors.

According to information previously provided by Finnigan, only a portion of the lot would be developed initially, with room for ambulance bays, parking and administrative offices. One point of controversy with neighbors is a projected two-way access on Rawson Avenue but town officials have stressed a plan provided by Landmark Engineering was created to ensure an adequate structure could be sited within allowable setbacks.

The tannery site is located in the River Business District and is zoned for mixed use, though a number of restrictions were placed on it and are renewed at each years' town meeting. The 2008 redevelopment report states allowed uses as resource uses, residential uses, municipal and institutional uses, commercial uses, professional uses, industrial uses, utility uses and accessory activities.

A structure as tall as 40 feet is allowed with a footprint of up to 107,000 square feet.

In 2011, residents at town meeting changed the requirement of a town referendum approving sale of the tannery property and instead authorized the Select Board to make the final decision, according to previously published reports.

Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at

Editor's note: This story has been updated to more accurately reflect the acreage of the tannery lot, which is nearly 3 acres. Of the total, there are 2 acres that may be developed, while .77 acres have been set aside for the Riverwalk and may not be developed, according to information provided by the town.

Comments (6)
Posted by: Kevin Wilson | Aug 25, 2014 11:01

many in Rockport do not want a new library built on the RES site. Many in Camden do not want the ambulance service on the Tannery site.

why don't the two groups combine forces and expediate a purchase of the RES site by the ambulance service? It provides quick access to Route 1, Route 90, and PBMC. the funds received from the sale of the RES site could be used to make upgrades at the current library.

Posted by: Christine Nathan | Aug 24, 2014 21:41

NEMHS attempted to purchase the old first aid building but were outbid by PAWS and it is currently being converted to the new animal shelter.  I too love our community but what are we telling businesses if we say they should be out of site...businesses are what support the community we so love!

Posted by: Bill Packard | Aug 24, 2014 19:57

All commercial businesses "of any sort" should not be housed in your beautiful town?  "This spectacular town should be kept the same for many generations?"  There was a tannery on that site for years.  Downtown, there was a woolen mill on one side of Washington St. and a shirt factory on the other.  Just below the town office meeting room, there was a children's clothing factory.  A car dealership was located where TD Bank is.  If you close the commercial businesses on Main and Elm Streets, what does Camden become?


Posted by: William Spear | Aug 24, 2014 14:37

Why not a nice apartment complex on that spot. With lots of green grass. I bet they could get 50 single story apartments on that property. A nice tax base. And it sure would look a lot better than it does now.

Posted by: Agnes C Oliva | Aug 24, 2014 13:56

Why must all commercial businesses "of any sort" be housed in our beautiful town?  Ambulances, industrial, addiction housing, all of it should  be out of site!  This spectacular town should be kept the same for many generations or just let it all go to the wind now!  Money begets money, that is what all this crap is all about.... There is ample space for the ambulances elsewhere as we all know and of course the other stuff simply need not be here!   Time for the for sale sign!  

Posted by: Fred Darrow | Aug 21, 2014 09:39

What is the status of the Camden First Aid Building? I understand that a local bank holds the mortgage.

It is hard to understand that a deal can not be worked out.

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