Camden voters will decide next month whether to restrict fast food restaurants to a specific part of Route 1, as well as to allow for the commercial cultivation of recreational marijuana.
Both of the proposed ordinances were approved by the Camden planning and select boards last month to go on the June 11 ballot. Voters will also decide whether to have Camden join a number of Maine towns that have adopted food sovereignty.
Restrictions on where fast food restaurants can operate in Camden have been floated since a Dunkin’ Donuts tried to open in the downtown district in 2009. The franchise never ended up opening a location in Camden and no municipal restrictions were ever put into place.
Earlier this year, a proposal to limit fast food restaurants to a small portion of Route 1 just south of Camden’s downtown was put forth by the Camden Planning Board. The restriction would allow for Camden’s downtown to maintain a tradition of having primarily locally owned restaurants.
“The planning board proposes [the amendment] to ensure that food service businesses wanting to locate in Camden respect the existing make-up of Camden’s business economy,” the proposed ordinance states.
An earlier version of the proposed ordinance included a list of characteristics that defined what a “formula-based” ― or fast food ― restaurant is, but that has been simplified to a restaurant that has 50 or more locations, according to Jeremy Martin, Camden’s director of planning and development.
This new definition would mean that, if passed, the ordinance would not affect an existing Sea Dog Brewing Co. restaurant, which is a Maine-owned chain, that has a location in downtown Camden.
While Camden is looking to restrict where fast food restaurants can operate, another ordinance slated for the June 11 ballot could open up where commercial marijuana can be grown.
The proposed ordinance would allow for both indoor and outdoor recreational marijuana cultivation, depending on where in town a cultivation facility plans to operate. Cultivation would not be allowed within 500 feet of schools, day care facilities, the Camden Snowbowl, Harbor Park or the library. Cultivation would also not be allowed within the downtown or village districts.
For a facility to open, the owners would have to go before the zoning board of appeals to receive a special exemption.
“I think Camden is fairly progressive on this topic,” Martin said. “It think it’s a good proposal. I think it’s very thoughtful.”