Camden Town Manager’s Report: Taking back the lights; federal shutdown slows tannery clean-up

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 9:30am

    CAMDEN — The following Feb. 4 report from Camden Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell presents updates from the department heads, including public safety, planning and development, and from her own office.

    Town Manager’s Office

    • I’m meeting with the City/Town Managers of Rockland, Rockport, Thomaston, Union and Waldoboro next week to choose a company to assist the Town with converting our streetlights to LEDs and taking over their ownership from Central Maine Power. 
    • Over 20 years this project will save Camden approximately $445,000 in energy and tariff costs to Central Maine Power.  This savings will be felt in under 4 years once the cost of the conversion is paid off.  The cooperative effort between the 6 municipalities has also helped to reduce project costs.
    • I have a meeting scheduled with members of the Camden Farmer’s Market Executive Committee to talk about plans for their upcoming season and their long term needs for the Tannery site.  We have been regularly corresponding with the Farmer’s Market since the Town was awarded the Clean Up Grant in an effort to minimize any disruption that could be caused by the environmental remediation activities on the site.  We have several options for locations in Town that could be great temporary homes for the Farmer’s Market until the clean-up is complete.  Once the Farmer’s Market has decided on which temporary location works best for them we’ll help to secure it for the season.  The clean-up of the Tannery will require heavy machinery, material and equipment staging and construction activities, which makes the site too dangerous for the Farmer’s Market to co-locate on.  

    Once the remediation is complete we’ll be happy to welcome the Farmer’s Market back to the Tannery.  To this end I’ll be speaking to the Executive Committee members about what their long-term needs are for the Tannery.  This will help to inform the clean-up planning and the nature of the remediation activities on the site.  A  more detailed update on the clean-up of the Tannery is included below by the Planning & Development Director.


    • I met with members of MDOT along with the Public Works Director and Planning and Development Director about the status of the Downtown pedestrian enhancement project.  MDOT needs to do a significant project to replace and upgrade the drainage infrastructure that runs through much of downtown, particularly around the 5-way intersection.   This gives the Town the opportunity to leverage grant funds already allocated to the Town by MDOT to make additional improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks and the walkway between Main Street and the Public Landing.
    • The Town Attorney has completed the easements for the right of way acquisition needed for the sidewalk to Shirttail Point.  Once approved by MDOT I can begin to meet with the property owners to secure these easements.   


    Planning & Development Director

    Staffing Update

    • Code Enforcement Officer, Bill O’Donnell retired at the end of December.  We are pleased to welcome back Steve Wilson to Camden.  Many of you may remember Steve when he worked for the town as CEO from 2010 through 2015.   Since then he worked as a CEO for the City of Bangor and briefly for the Town of Kittery.    Steve is extremely knowledgeable and is a great resource for contractors, designers, and homeowners.  Steve knows the town very well and we are extremely happy to have him back.       

    Tannery Update    

    • Ransom Environmental, Camden’s environmental consultant on the EPA Brownfield cleanup has commenced their preliminary work.  Unfortunately, due to the government shutdown things are not progressing as quickly as we had initially hoped.  The consultant is preparing a revised Analysis of Brownfield Clean Up Alternatives (ABCA) Plan and Remedial Action Plan, as required by the EPA.  In addition, they are also developing a Site-Specific Quality Assurance Project Plan (SSQAP), a Health and Safety Plan (H&S), as well as a Community Relations Plan (CRP).  All of this requires approval by the USEPA.  Once the USEPA has approved these plans there will be a public comment period which will include a public meeting.   We were initially hoping for a mid-March public meeting, which would have been in the middle of the public comment period.  Unfortunately, the government shutdown has pushed all of this out some. Once the EPA, approves these plans, we will solicit public comment and hold a public meeting.   We fully expect that the cleanup is still on track for June of this year.   


    Zoning Amendments

    • The Planning Board is in the process of reviewing proposed zoning ordinance amendments and will be holding public hearings on a number of amendments in the coming months.   A public hearing was held on Thursday January 31, on an amendment that would allow existing hotels in the Village District to allow food service to the general public as a Special Exception reviewed by the Zoning Board of Appeals, as long as seating doesn’t increase from 2019 seating.     
    • Also, on Jan. 31 there was a public hearing on a proposed amendment to update the erosion control standards in the zoning ordinance to bring them into conformance with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Erosion and Sedimentation Control Law.   
    • Other proposed zoning amendments that are under consideration address adult-use cannabis, formula-based fast food service, food sovereignty, and demolition delay ordinance.   In terms of adult-use cannabis, the Select Board in December 2017 appointed a Cannabis Working Group that developed recommendations for adult-use cannabis cultivation and products manufacturing.   The Planning Board will soon be reviewing proposed zoning amendments to allow for cannabis cultivation, and likely cannabis products manufacturing.   The Planning Board will use the Cannabis Working Groups recommendations as a guide in drafting where these uses will be allowed.   

    Knox Mill Parking 

    • Planning and Development staff are also working on the lease/purchase agreement for parking at Knox Mills.    There are numerous subdivision approvals that encumber these lots which include multiple easements with multiple parties that need to be addressed.   


    Police Department

    The following reflects statistics from Police Department files from January 1 to January 29, 2019.  The statistics listed reflect a partial listing of the total number received. The complaints listed denote those which are used for reporting purposes or had a significant amount reported to the police during this period. 

    Camden PD has also completed all mandatory annual reports and submitted them to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. The department has completed a joint annual training with Camden and Rockport departments covering all Bureau of Labor mandatory yearly trainings. The department has also satisfactorily completed a “Criminal Justice Information System” (CJIS) audit.

    Planning and preparations now underway for the upcoming Winterfest and the U.S. Toboggan Nationals.

    478 Total complaints received during this period:

    • 13 Responses to 911 hang up / open line 
    • 20 Agency Assist calls
    •   9 Alarm responses
    • 10    Animal complaints; 6 animal problems and 4 animal welfare 
    •   3 Business/License checks
    •   5 Car/Deer Accidents
    •   7 Citizen assist calls
    •   5 Domestic
    • 10 Drug Take Back (use of lobby drop box)
    •   1 DUI alcohol or drugs
    •   5 Found property 
    •   2   Hit & Run calls
    • 19 Information Complaints
    •   2 Litter/Pollution/Public Health
    •   3 Mental Health Issues
    • 31 Parking problem 
    • 17  Traffic accidents;   15 with damage; 2 with injuries  
    • 20 Traffic Complaints
    • 112 Property Checks
    • 30 Radar details
    •   8 School Visits
    •   4   Stray animal calls
    • 10 Traffic violations
    •   7 Well Being checks



    Fire Department

    • The cold weather has not impacted our call volume which has remained steady.
      • Recent rain events have caused some local flooding.  We have assisted several homeowners who have had water in their homes.
    • We have continued to work with the Code Enforcement on building inspections.
      • Steve Wilson is a welcome addition to this office.  He has been thorough and informative when we have accompanied him on inspections.
    • The Chief and Assistant Chief attended a regular meeting of the Knox County Mutual Aid.
    • We have two on-call Firefighters currently enrolled in the Knox County Fire Training Academy's Firefighter I & II program.
      • Assistant Chief Lowe is administering the Academy which has 23 participants.
    • The Chief has attended several meetings of the KRCC Executive Board to assist with leadership & staffing deficiencies at the KRCC.
    • We have prepared and distributed an Event Emergency Action Plan for the US Toboggan Nationals championship weekend.
    • Firefighter Matt Heath has been accepted into the Emergence Program at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security located at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.  This program is fully funded by FEMA with the town's cost share being our personnel costs.  He will be attending the first week of the program next week, followed by a second week in April.  "The Emergence Program is a unique opportunity for homeland security/public safety professionals who are in the early stage of their career.  The program provides an educational forum and innovation lab for participants to explore 'emerging' trends in the world around us (e.g., technology, social, and terrorism).  Participants will discuss both the challenges associated with these complex trends as well as the opportunities to rethink how we protect our communities and the nation.  In addition, program sessions will assist participants in 'emergence' strategies for implementing innovative ideas, being a leader and for a successful homeland security career."  The 32 people he will be attending the program with range from US Secret Security staff to NYPD to state Emergency Management Agencies.  Matt will be one of five people in the program representing the fire service with the others being from Boston Fire, FDNY, Fairfax County, VA and Olympia, WA.  His concentration in the program will be the delivery of emergency medical services to a community.