Clarity sought on water for campground



TREMONT — The Planning Board wants an independent expert opinion on whether there is sufficient groundwater to supply the proposed Acadia Wilderness Lodge Campground on Route 102 near Kelleytown Road. 

Perry Lawson LLC and James and Kenya Hopkins have applied for a permit to build the 55-site campground, which would include 37 tents and 18 yurts. 

At their meeting on Sept. 28, board members voted to ask engineering firm Haley Ward to review the assertions made by the applicants regarding the proposed campground’s compliance with ordinance standards for traffic, septic, stormwater runoff and hydrology. But there is no standard in the ordinance for hydrology, and Haley Ward did not address that issue in its report to the board. 

What the board had meant by “hydrology” was groundwater sufficiency, but Haley Ward apparently didn’t equate the two. So, at their meeting Tuesday night, the Planning Board voted to ask Haley Ward to look specifically at the question of groundwater sufficiency for the proposed campground. 

That vote came near the end of a nearly four-and-a-half-hour public hearing in which attorneys and engineers for both the applicants and opponents of the project stated their cases and nearly 20 members of the public expressed their opinions. Most of them said they oppose the proposed campground, with several of them citing concerns about traffic safety. 

“I don’t feel that (Route 102) is able to withstand additional traffic to that volume,” said Sarah Fina. “The road is narrow, it’s crumbling…” 

Rachel Kohrman Ramos said the entrance to the proposed campground is at the top of a hill. “It’s extremely dangerous because a lot of cars will be going in and out, and it’s a badly built road and is not well maintained at all.” 

Opponents of the proposed campground also expressed concern about its potential impact on the character of the town. 

“We are not on a mission to deny the applicants’ happiness; we’re here because we recognize how special Tremont is,” said Lydia Wegman. “It deserves our protection as an endangered species.” 

A few members of the public who spoke at the hearing said they support the campground application or don’t have a problem with it. 

“I’m saddened to see that so many people have been fed lies and unfair information on what this project really is, and I’m embarrassed to live in a town that shuns people for starting a business here,” Mike Mansolilli said. “If you want a year-round community, the only way to do that is by allowing the locals and their families to produce enough income to live here.” 

Beth Lawson, whose property abuts the campground site, said, “I’m not that worried about the campground.” 

The Planning Board voted to continue the public hearing on Oct. 26, but to limit public comments to the issue of groundwater sufficiency. 

That will be one week before Tremont residents vote on a proposed six-month moratorium on Planning Board consideration of any campground applications. If enacted, the moratorium would affect any applications pending as of Aug. 2, including the Acadia Wilderness Lodge Campground application. 

 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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