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Town hopes for June vote on tannery

By Susan Mustapich | Dec 01, 2020
Source: Zoom Video Conferencing On Nov. 30, the Community Economic Development Advisory Committee outlined a process for reviewing four proposals to develop the town-owned former tannery property.

Camden — The Community Economic Development Advisory Committee met Nov. 30 to outline its process for reviewing four proposals for Tannery Park, a town-owned property on Washington Street.

Planning and Development Director Jeremy Martin asked committee members to review proposals during three upcoming meetings in December, with a plan of presenting their findings the first week of January.

He said the goal is to get something in front of voters by June. To achieve this, the Select Board will review information provided by CEDAC, hold workshops with those presenting the four proposals and hold public hearings required before anything can be set for a June vote.

Discussion centered around how to tackle an expansive list of criteria the Select Board and Town Manager Audra Caler have tasked the committee to use in its review process.

All of the committee members were present at the meeting: Chairman Leamon Scott, regular members Meg Quijano, Roger Moody, Robin McIntosh, Steve Matteo, Maria Libby and ex-officio member Tom Peaco. Jeff Senders and Ellis Cohn are alternate members.

Martin said he was excited to see the four proposals received, which are diverse.

The review process would be unlike what is usually done for proposals and properties, as there has been a lot of community involvement with the property over a long time, he said.

He told committee members the Select Board is looking for them to review the proposals, looking at the evaluation criteria and submittal requirements in the request for proposal document, make comments and come up with questions for each entity proposing to use this site, he said.

He then added more tasks.

He asked committee members to watch the Select Board's discussions about the proposals during their Nov. 4 and 17 meetings, to read and familiarize themselves with the town's Comprehensive Plan, and to look at a list of priorities the Select Board set in 2018.

Additional documents to be considered in the review process are the guiding principles set out by a former Tannery Work Group and recommendations from a 2016 tannery group, Martin said. He has sent these documents to committee members.

The committee would look at short- and long-term financial commitments required from the town in any proposal, Martin said. Zoning amendments and financial incentives tied to some of the proposals would be additional factors in the review.

The committee would produce a summary of each proposal that takes in all of that criteria, and questions the Select Board can ask of the entities that submitted proposals.

McIntosh asked for the wording of a non-binding vote that took place some years ago on whether residents wanted to the property used as a park or for economic development.

Quijano asked if there was a way to condense all the information the committee needs to deal with.

"It would take weeks to go through all this information," she said.

Matteo asked for an "outline of what we're going to be looking at for each proposal," saying this is needed for committee members "to be consistent on how they are looking at the proposals."

Libby noted that there are three different sets of criteria to use in evaluating, but there are also requirements in the request for proposals. She said it would be helpful to have all of the requirements in one place, so that committee members were not paging through documents as they review the proposals.

Moody suggested the outline take the form of a matrix, using a master document on Google drive. This would allow the document to be shared with the committee members, and used to add their input.

Peaco suggested making progress at the meeting on what the review criteria will be, bringing together the bits and pieces in the different documents and seeing if there's anything else the committee wants to look at.

McIntosh suggested breaking up the criteria into several groups, and beginning the review of all four proposals with the first two sets of criteria at the next meeting. Senders agreed this is the most objective way to review the proposals.

As the meeting was wrapping up, Martin summarized the criteria as: compliance with request for proposal submittal requirement;, consistency evaluation/approval criteria in the request for proposals and in relation to the Tannery Work Group guiding principals and the 2016 workgroup recommendations; developer experience; zoning amendments; required incentives; and short and long term benefits to the town.

He promised to get a matrix to the committee, though admitted it may not be exactly what some are looking for.

CEDAC'S next meeting to review the former tannery property proposals will be 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8, via Zoom video conferencing. The meeting is livestreamed and can also be viewed at a later time on the town of Camden's YouTube channel.

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