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Camden Select Board meets April 20

Public hearings held on broadband agreement, budget, June ballot items

Agreement with Midcoast Conservancy on dam removal and redesign of Harbor Park seawall up for approval
By Susan Mustapich | Apr 19, 2021
Photo by: Susan Mustapich The Select Board plans to vote on an agreement with Midcoast Conservancy, headquartered in Edgecomb, for work on the Megunticook River focused on the Montgomery dam and Harbor Park seawall.

CAMDEN — The Camden Select Board will hold a public hearing Tuesday, April 20 regarding placing a Midcoast Community Internet Coalition Interlocal Agreement and the proposed 2021-22 municipal budget on the June 8 town meeting ballot.

The board will also vote on all items for the June ballot.

Select Board meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. They are held via Zoom Videoconferencing and broadcast on the town of Camden's YouTube channel.

Those who want to speak during the public hearing or on another agenda item are asked to email Assistant Town Manager Janice Esancy at prior to 3:30 p.m. April 20, and to specify the agenda item they intend to talk about. Instructions on accessing the Zoom meeting are on the agenda, posted on the town website

Public hearing

The Select Board's proposed 2021-22 municipal budget calls for a total of $9,756,751 in spending, up 2% from 2021. The amount of $3,699,121 in non-property tax revenues will be used towards expenses.

The net budget totaling $6,057,630 is an increase of 2.3% from 2021, and is the part of the municipal budget to be paid for by property taxes.

The Select Board's budget's net expense is very close to what the Budget Committee recommends, through some expense items vary between the two. Recommendations of both are printed on the ballot, which is available in the Board's meeting packet on the town website.

The stated purposes of the Midcoast Community Internet Interlocal Agreement are to provide a cooperative arrangement for participating municipalities to establish and participate in some or all of the following:

Jointly contracting with one or more providers selected by the Corporation to conduct engineering and technical design for a collaborative, open-access, cooperatively-operated fiber optic network in the service area;

Jointly establish, construct and maintain a fiber optic network to provide broadband services;

Apply for required licenses and permits, jointly own land and facilities necessary for the services; construct, manage and maintain broadband facilities; and incorporate and administer a regional municipal utility district for broadband services, which will establish rates and collect revenues.

The Corporation will be formed as a non-profit by the Charter Municipalities, of Camden and Rockport. The Corporation will be "a regional municipal utility district," as defined by Maine law. The full text of the interlocal agreement is included in the Select Board packet.

The Select Board will also approve all the warrant items for the June 8 town meeting ballot. In addition to the above, there are two zoning ordinances. Both are unanimously recommended by the Planning Board and Select Board.

One will consolidate the Wastewater Treatment plant into the Downtown Business district. Half of the plant is currently in that zone, and the other half is in the Traditional Village District.

The other zoning change amends commercial uses in the Coastal Residential District, by special exception, to allow new additions under 10,000 square feet. The amendment is written with specific conditions so it may only apply to an existing boatwork and storage building owned by Parker Laite Jr. He is proposing to build a 5,000-square-foot addition to a building at 216 Belfast Road. Special exceptions require approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

A proposed police ordinance will require registration of un-hosted short-term rental properties. Registration involves providing the name and address of owner, location of the property, local contact to call in an emergency and a fee.

The ordinance defines un-hosted rentals as "a short-term rental where the owner(s) of the property do not reside on property where the short-term rental is located, and it is not the owners' primary residence."  A primary residence is defined as being occupied "for a minimum of six consecutive months plus one day."

The Select Board unanimously recommends registration of un-hosted short-term rentals and the Internet Coalition agreement.

Another article will ask voters to appropriate $70,000 from funds raised by the Downtown Tax Increment Financing District. to be used to partially offset the cost of the Knowlton Street parking lot lease/purchase, and maintenance of downtown parking lots. This is unanimously recommended by the Select Board and Budget Committee.

Megunticook River project

Separate from June town meeting items, the Board lists as an agenda action item 'approval of contract with Midcoast Conservancy,' which is located in Edgecomb.

The Select Board will consider a one-year agreement that involves the town of Camden providing a $35,000 grant to fund Midcoast Conservancy's work on the Megunticook River Restoration project.

The agreement states that the purposes of the grant are to implement a portion of a memorandum of understanding, and to provide funding for support of Midcoast Conservancy's Senior Watershed Restoration Manager to implement the restoration priorities on the Megunticook River.

A memorandum of understanding describes the work to be done. The purpose is for the town and the non-profit organization to "work cooperatively in Maine’s Megunticook River to remove the Montgomery Dam and redesign of the Harbor Park Seawall."

In addition, the work is to "explore feasibility, and if possible, implement projects that either remove additional dams or provide fish passage past five other barriers on the Megunticook River."

Midcoast Conservancy is the fiscal agent "for all funds related to this project including grant funds awarded to the town of Camden, grant funds awarded to Midcoast Conservancy, and other private funds awarded to the town and/or the Conservancy specifically for this project."

It will be responsible for contracting and payments to implement the project and be the lead on media relations, issuing press releases and outreach.

Other items on the April 20 agenda are approvals of: victualer and lodging licenses for Abigail’s Inn, The Belmont Inn, Camden House of Pizza, and Oliver’s Bistro and applications for use of the Village Green by Bay Chamber Concerts and Knox County Housing Coalition.

Agenda items for updates on established priorities include a 2019 Coastal Communities Grant and Green energy and energy efficiency including building upgrades and Knox County Airport solar.

Discussion Items on the agenda include the Skate Park on Knowlton St. and downtown infrastructure projects.

The meeting begins with an opportunity for public input on non-agenda items, and wraps up with town manager and Select Board member reports.

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