Main Street in downtown Camden Credit: Gabor Degre

CAMDEN, Maine — At the polls Tuesday, voters in Camden overwhelmingly approved restricting fast food restaurants to a small area along Route 1, south of downtown.

Town officials placed the ordinance on the ballot in an attempt to maintain the tradition of having primarily locally owned restaurants in the historic and waterfront downtown. Voters approved the measure by a vote of 445-to-92.

“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 ordinance states.

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 enacted.

Under the new ordinance, any restaurant that has 50 or more locations may only operate within the town’s “highways business district,” where a Subway restaurant is already located.

Voters also approved the small-scale cultivation of marijuana within the town’s parameters, by a vote of 326-to-171.

The new marijuana ordinance will allow for both indoor and outdoor growing operations, depending on where in town a cultivation facility plans to operate. Cultivation would not be allowed within 500 feet of schools, daycare facilities, the Camden Snowbowl, Harbor Park or the library. Cultivation also would 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.