Fate of former tannery lot, bed-and-breakfast dinners sent to Camden ballot

Posted Sept. 02, 2014, at 9:46 p.m.

CAMDEN, Maine — The Camden Select Board voted Tuesday night to send ballot questions to voters about two controversial issues.

The board agreed to hold a nonbinding referendum on Nov. 4 to get the sentiment of voters on what should be done with the former Apollo Tannery lot on Washington Street. The voters will be asked whether the land should continue to be marketed for commercial purposes or kept for community uses.

The town has been trying to sell the nearly 3-acre lot along the Megunticook River for the past six years but without success. In 2008, the Apollo Tannery Redevelopment Work Group recommended that the town sell the site to attract a business that would create good-paying, year-round jobs in an industry deemed acceptable to the neighborhood and the town.

Northeast Mobile Health Services was considering buying the lot for its regional ambulance center but withdrew in the face of neighborhood opposition.

Several neighbors spoke Tuesday night and said the lot should be turned into a park.

The board also agreed to place a zoning change on the ballot that would allow certain bed-and-breakfast businesses to sell dinners to their guests.

The issue has come back before the board after a citizen-initiated petition drive garnered 284 signatures.

The Select Board voted 3-2 on Aug. 13 to reject a request by Kristen Bifulco, the owner of the Windward House on High Street, to place the matter on the ballot. She and supporters then began the petition drive.

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 overnight guests.

Opponents have said it would harm local restaurants, and others said it would disrupt the High Street residential neighborhood.

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