I believe that the Camden Herald’s Editorial Board erred in its February 13th piece entitled “An Anti-climatic End?” by confusing issues—voters’ rights, the role of the Select Board and rationale for their votes, and the legality of FHRE’s request to rezone the Fox Hill property. They created a rambling, misleading editorial. Let me consider each separately.
First, voters’ rights: The Selectmen did not take away anyone’s right to vote. They thought the proposal was a bad idea and voted against it, which is their job as our elected representatives. If 279 registered voters don’t like the decision, they are free to file a petition for the issue to appear on the June ballot. Elected representatives should not be chided for arriving a a decision; that is what we elect them to do.
Secondly, if the staff at Camden Herald are unclear why the Selectmen voted as they did, I feel compelled to ask, “Did they watch the meeting?” Four Selectmen stated their views quite clearly, articulating that they found it to be spot zoning, illegal, and not allowed by Camden’s comprehensive plan. I think their vote represented the majority of citizens who spoke that evening. Most speakers in favor of the rezone were paid out-of-towners, not Camden citizens who will be left holding the bag should McLean bow out.
Lastly, the question of legality in FHRE’s request. Though “Town Attorney Bill Kelly has repeatedly said, in his legal opinion, the wording is not a case of spot zoning,” several other reputable attorneys disagree. The recent finding by a Superior Court Judge in Portland on a very similar case certainly suggests that were the Fox Hill question sent to litigation, a similar finding of illegality would likely result on the same grounds—that the rezone is not allowed by our state-approved comprehensive plan.
I encourage the editors at the Camden Herald to strive toward more objectivity and fact-checking in future opinion pieces.
Bob Collins, Camden