TREMONT — What defines a campground and how does the definition apply to an application recently received in Tremont?
On Dec. 14, the Tremont Planning Board tabled the review of an application for 15 cabins under the name Pointy Head in order to seek legal counsel. At issue is whether the Pointy Head project would be considered a campground.
Voters approved in November a moratorium that puts a six-month hold on the review of campground applications.
According to Pointy Head applicant Madellon “Bunny” Brogdon’s attorney, Ed Bearor of Rudman Winchell, the application stands on its own and has nothing to do with an application for Pointy Head Campground that had been denied by the Planning Board months ago.
“We all know that there’s a campground moratorium in effect and that we first have to make a decision about whether this is a campground or not before we proceed,” said Planning Board Chair Mark Good.
The site, which Brogdon now refers to as just Pointy Head, includes 15 cabins and a washroom. “We didn’t care what we were called two years ago or even six months ago when we were last in front of you in April,” said Bearor. “We never were a campground.”
The town of Tremont defines a campground as an area or a tract of land that accommodates two or more parties in temporary living quarters, including, but not limited to, tents, recreational vehicles or other shelters.
Planning Board member Geoffrey Young said he was still struggling with the definition of “other shelters” and distinguishing this application from that definition.
When Brogdon took the initial project to the town office, John Larson, the former code enforcement officer, made the determination that it was a campground.
Bearor said that Brogdon’s application does not fall within the definition, rather it is a transient accommodation for commercial use. “It’s not a place where people drive RVs onto it, there aren’t outdoor fire pits that are producing smoke, they
don’t have tents, there are no campsites here,” he said. He stated that the site has cabins with beds in them. “Our place has none of the accouterments that you would find with a campground. I don’t think there is anything in this definition that fits our application. I would also suggest you look at the definition of campsites,” he said.
Tremont’s land use ordinances define campsites as “any plot of ground within a campground intended for the occupancy by a recreational vehicle or a camping unit.”
“In the definitions, hotel, motel, cottages and cabins are defined as a building or group of buildings containing rooms which are used or rented for sleeping purposes by transients, so that to me seems pretty clear what it is,” said Planning Board Vice Chair Lawson Wulsin. “What Ed is describing seems to apply.”
“I understand that you’re struggling with it because there is a moratorium on campgrounds now and we were before you in the past with that characterization, but I would suggest that it was at a time that wasn’t nearly as important as it is now,” Bearor said.
Young and Good agreed that the application should be tabled pending legal advice.
“I’m going to move that we table consideration of the Pointy Head site plan review application pending engagement of our council to render an opinion on the applicability of the campground versus hotel, motel, cabins, cottages provisions in the land use ordinance first, and secondly to render an opinion with respect to the applicability and binding effect of the prior opinion of the appeals board on July 18, 2019,” said Planning Board member Brett Witham.