CAMDEN, Maine — It’s getting closer to doughnut-making time in Camden, as the town issued two permits Thursday that would allow a 20-seat Dunkin’ Donuts to open in what is now a vacant storefront at 5 Elm St.
After developers two weeks ago proposed bringing the fast-food restaurant to town, some Camden residents started fighting against the plan. People sent 150 e-mails to the town planner lodging their disapproval and gathered more than 600 signatures on a letter of concern against the proposal.
That opposition didn’t stop Camden planner and code enforcement officer Jeffrey Nims from issuing the change-of-use and building permits Thursday. The building permit would allow developers to make $80,000 in renovations.
While building owner Chet Mazakas of California signed the permit under the name of his company, Active Investments III LLC, the applicant’s name was listed as Michael Ouimet, Nims said.
Ouimet told the Bangor Daily News a week ago that he and his business partner wanted to open a Dunkin’ Donuts in Camden with a special design that would be sensitive to the historic nature of the community’s downtown district.
But before Dunkin’ Donuts can open in downtown Camden, developers still need to get a victualer’s license from the town, a state eating license, a state fire marshal’s permit and possibly a Department of Transportation traffic movement permit, Nims said.
No more permits are required from his office, however.
“It’s a permitted use,” Nims said Thursday. “The only way that it can be stopped is for someone to appeal it.”
But not just anyone can appeal the Dunkin’ Donuts, Nims said. A viable appeal would need to come from someone with “standing” — for example, someone with property that abuts the building, or someone who thinks his or her property could be affected by changing traffic due to the restaurant.
The town’s planning board will meet May 6 to discuss “how to address all these concerns,” Nims said.
Jenna Lookner of Camden is one person who has concerns. The 2001 Camden Hills Regional High School graduate is an organizer of the new Facebook group Citizen Advocates for Unique Downtown Business, and one of the local residents behind a proposed Web site, reThink Camden, which should go live within a week.
“We’re very much pro-business,” Lookner said. “We’re just pro the kind of business that fits with this community.”
Lookner said that she was a little surprised to hear about the permits being granted. At the last planning board meeting she had understood that further discussions would happen on May 6.
Ideally, Camden residents would work together to “revitalize” the downtown with businesses in the “creative and sustainable realm,” Lookner said.
“It would be really wonderful to have the support and encouragement of the town on every level feasible, in terms of honoring public conversation and the public desire to be part of the process,” Lookner said. “There are lots of voices not being heard.”