CAMDEN — Voting unanimously Dec. 3, the five-member Camden Planning Board approved a Lyman-Morse application to tear down and rebuild an extensive portion of the boatyard’s waterfront buildings.
The board imposed three conditions on its approval:
1) That any new landscape plantings — trees — would not exceed the height of any new buildings; thus, preserving the harbor view for neighbors;
2) That a Knox Box (providing first responders and firefighters with immediate access into secure buildings) be sited on the property; and
3) That structures be constructed in accordance with town’s floodplain management ordinance.
The approval followed a 90-minute discussion, and completed a review of the plans that had been stretched out over three Planning Board meetings.
“Thank you,” said Lyman-Morse President Drew Lyman, who had been attending the virtual meeting, along with his father, Cabot Lyman, and representative Joshua Moore. “It’s a big one for us and I appreciate everyone hammering this out.”
During the meeting, Planning Board members addressed the list of approval criteria governing changes to an already approved plan for properties in the town’s Harbor Business District.
Lyman-Morse proposed the overhaul following a June 2020 fire that destroyed part of its existing boatyard buildings. The plans, were developed over the course of the summer and fall by engineers Gartley and Dorsky, of Rockport, and architects Greenspur, of Fall Church, Virginia.
The project entails tearing down sheds and offices, rebuilding the bulkhead, and constructing a complex of boatyard and commercial buildings, including a new distillery and rooftop restaurant, along the east side of the inner harbor.
While the Nov. 17 meeting involved a four-hour focus by the Planning Board on project details, and listening to much public comment, the Dec. 3 meeting was more perfunctory. Nonetheless, conversations touched on topics that had been raised by the public during the Nov. 17 public hearing.
That included potential glare from the glass windows that are to line the new buildings facing the water, affecting boat traffic and people on the west side of the harbor.
Board member Mark Siegenthaler questioned possible reflections impeding navigation, or killing birds with blinding conditions.
He suggested a conditional statement attached to the approval to the effect that Lyman-Morse would, “be sensitive and mindful to correcting any issues, including navigation.”
Camden Planner Jeremy Martin said that bird kill had not been discussed by the board at the previous meeting and therefore not procedurally germane to the Dec. 3 meeting.
Board member Ethan Shaw responded that because the topic had been raised during public comment, the discussion was, “fair game.”
Martin said the town’ performance standards referenced glare, and would be a matter that his office would address, if it became an issue.
Shaw said he wanted to ask Will Gartley if the issue had been considered during the design phase.
Martin cited the performance standards, saying “dazzling light” is considered an impairment of any drivers upon a public way.
Shaw again asked Gartley if glass glare had been discussed during the design phase.
Jeanne Hollingsworth, Camden’s assistant to the code enforcement officer, said a waterway is a public way, especially a navigation channel.
Gartley said he was not aware if the design team had discussed the type of glass to be used in the windows.
Drew Lyman said if there are glare issues affecting boats: “we have interest. We do not want glare.”
Shaw said the change on the east side of the harbor, with the project, is “pretty drastic,” adding that a number of the existing buildings now do not have windows.
By conversation’s end, the board agreed that the ordinance performance standards require consideration of glare.
Another topic of discussion referenced increase in traffic on Sea Street, and the intersection of Route 1.
With a 150-seat restaurant included in the plans, the traffic will increase on Sea Street, board members agreed. The restaurant is to serve lunch and dinner, they learned from Lyman.
With summer traffic sometimes creating a stalled line of vehicles from the Camden Public Library to the Camden Hills State Park entrance on Route 1, the issue of increased congestion was raised.
Gartley noted that cars exiting Sea Street onto Route 1 during those peak times were often allowed access into the flow by accommodating drivers.
“As much as traffic is backed up, people let others out,” he said.
Traffic consultant Randy Dunton commented that the restaurant was considered a “quality restaurant,” meaning the peak time for patrons would be late afternoon and early evening.
“It’s going to kind of miss the peak hours of the afternoon,” he said.
Drew Lyman said the company operated a launch service from the west side of the harbor to the east side, and would consider adding another launch to accommodate increased restaurant traffic. That would allow for patrons to park in Camden, walk to the town landing, board a boat, disembark at Lyman-Morse, have a meal, and return to the other side of the harbor, without driving over and along Sea Street.
Concerning fire protection and public safety, Camden’s Fire Chief Chris Farley had submitted several suggestions, all of which were ultimately included in the Dec. 3 deliberations.
The new buildings are to be equipped with fire marshal approved sprinklers, said Gartley.
The engineers are to consult with Farley concerning the relocation of a fire hydrant closer to the Lyman-Morse property and establish adequate water capacity.
And, a Knox Box is to be established so that firefighters can quickly access any buildings in the event of emergency.
Parking along Sea Street is to continue with its current pattern of parking on one side only. Martin said he would be consulting with Camden Public Works Director Dave St. Laurent about pedestrian safety.
Shaw asked about bike safety, as well.
“It would be great to have bike lanes,” he said.
In the end, the site plan review of the Lyman-Morse project culminated with approval, which allows the company, and any other business to be located on site, to pursue municipal building permits, restaurant and victualers licenses, and more.
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