Camden inn owner petitions for town vote on zoning that bars her from serving dinner to guests

Posted Aug. 20, 2014, at 9:31 a.m.

CAMDEN, Maine — The owner of a bed-and-breakfast who saw the Select Board reject last week her request to ask voters whether she can serve dinners to overnight guests is appealing directly to residents.

Kristen Bifulco, the owner of the Windward House on High Street, said Wednesday she expects to present a petition to the Select Board in time for its Sept. 2 meeting in order to get the zoning amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot.

While the Select Board is not automatically required to place the matter on the ballot if someone collects sufficient signatures — 279 signatures of registered Camden residents — Town Clerk Katrina Oakes said she has not seen the board reject a petition in the past.

Bifulco said that as of Tuesday, people circulating the petitions for her have gathered 112 approved signatures.

The ordinance change that Bifulco is seeking approval for would allow inns on High Street — the section of Route 1 north of downtown — that are within 500 feet of a zone that allows restaurants, to serve evening meals to their overnight guests.

The Select Board voted 3-2 on Aug. 13 to reject her request to put the matter on the ballot.

The issue has generated considerable interest in town during the past year. At a July 2 public hearing before the planning board, 30 people spoke out on the proposal with two-thirds opposed and the remainder in support. The planners sent the proposal on to the Select Board.

At last week’s Select Board meeting, nearly all speakers were opposed to the change.

Select Board Chairman Martin Cates said last week it was a travesty for the board not to send the question to voters. Select Board member Leonard Lookner said if the board didn’t listen to the people who speak out at hearings, then the hearings serve no purpose.

The Windward House is a 6,400-square-foot 1854-built Greek Revival House.

Bifulco maintains the change would bring more people into the community. She said other inns are allowed to serve dinners, but because she is in the traditional village zone, she is not.

Opponents said the change would harm the High Street neighborhood, while others said it would take away business from downtown restaurants.

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