Voters OK raising height limit for middle school

By Susan Mustapich | Jan 10, 2018
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Registered Camden voters held their blue cards high to allow part of the new middle school on Knowlton Street to be built to 38 feet high.

CAMDEN — Voters unanimously raised the height limit on the middle school property on Knowlton Street to allow a building height of 38 feet at a special town meeting Jan. 9.

The middle school property is located in the Traditional Village District, where zoning rules limit building height to 30 feet. However, some of the existing school buildings on the middle school property, which are older than the zoning ordinance, exceed the height limit. The Mary E. Taylor building, built in the 1920s, is 41 feet high. The school's gymnasium is 31 feet high.

There was no discussion before the vote, and no one voted against the change. Town Clerk Katrina Oakes and Deputy Registrar of Voters Elaine Davis verified 28 registered voters, including all five select board members, and handed them blue cards.

The vote paves the way for the new Camden-Rockport Middle School, which includes a 38-foot-high three-story classroom wing. The wing is at the back of the new building, downhill from street level, and will appear to be the same height as the front of the building facing Knowlton Street.

The highest part of the building facing Knowlton Street is the cafeteria roof ridge, which is 28 feet high. From Knowlton Street, the property slopes downhill toward the athletic fields behind the existing school buildings. Based on a complex rule required by the zoning ordinance, the classroom wing measures 38 feet high.

Voters also changed the town's Floodplain Management Ordinance to conform it with state and federal laws. The zoning change pertains to a requirement that space below the lowest floor of buildings in the coastal plain velocity area must be constructed with breakaway walls.

The special town meeting took place in the Washinton Street Conference Room, prior to the regular select board meeting.

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