A page from The Woods of Eden’s site plan shows a preliminary layout of the campground’s cart trails and tents. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE TOWN OF BAR HARBOR

‘Glamping’ biz proposed



BAR HARBOR — A parcel of land on Seabury Drive that was part of a seven-year dispute between condo developers and abutters could become a specialty campground after advancing to the next stage of Planning Board approval on March 7.

The proposed development, to be called “The Woods of Eden,” would have eight large, furnished, wood-and-canvas tents that could accommodate six people each, complete with bedrooms and bathrooms.

“I’m looking to create a quiet place for people to come and stay in the woods,” owner Nancy Sweeney said of the development during the meeting.

She called the potential business “glamping,” a take on traditional camping with modern amenities.

“They’re platform-based, and they can pretty much go anywhere,” Sweeney told the Islander Friday. “You have a full bath in there, a queen-size bed and bunk beds.”

Sweeney purchased the 25-acre parcel of land from Tranquility-Bond LLC for $200,000 contingent on Planning Board approval for the project. Tranquility-Bond is a corporation headed by Bob Bond, who tried to develop the land into a condominium complex beginning in 2005 before abandoning the project in 2012 after pushback from abutters.

Bond planned to build 13 condominiums at the property. The Planning Board approved the project, but a group of neighbors led by Greg Moore was concerned about road use during construction as well as fire protection. The neighbors’ appeals stymied the project until it was abandoned in 2012.

According to a 2012 story in the Islander, Bond paid $350,000 for the land in 2005. He said he spent about $500,000 between developing the property and legal battles with abutters. Moore spent $19,000 of his own money in the legal battles.

The piece of property sits at the corner of Seabury Drive and Route 3 near Salisbury Cove, which Sweeney said was the most amenable location she found while searching for property on the island.

“I was looking for some place that was quiet,” Sweeney said. “If I could change one thing, it would be a little further from Route 3, but I think I’m set back far enough that the vegetation will keep the noise out.”

Sweeney does not plan to have a sign visible from Route 3, favoring only having one in the parking lot to welcome visitors. Residents will park in a lot and use 8-foot-wide trails to access the tents.

“This isn’t a drive by, ‘that looks interesting’ kind of thing,” she said. “The people who are coming will know where they need to go, and no one else needs to know.”

The first phase of the project will only see four tents in use, Sweeney said, but she hopes to add four more in a future phase.

Sweeney rents a home she owns in Bar Harbor on Airbnb, which she said gave her insight into what tourists look for in a rental property.

“People are looking for different experiences now when they are travelling,” she said.

Sweeney was inspired by campgrounds that offer yurts and other unique dwellings. The Tremont-based Acadia Yurts, established in 2015, offers yurts and tiny houses for daily and weekly rentals. Acadia Yurts opens for the season in April.

She said she was excited about was making one tent wheelchair-accessible.

“In the past few years, I’ve noticed how difficult it is for people with disabilities to find appropriate houses to stay in,” Sweeney said. “I’m hoping to attract people who have a member of their family in a wheelchair and want to have the camping experience but haven’t really had the opportunity to do that.”

During the Planning Board meeting, abutter Ruth Calas said she was worried about campers’ animals potentially wandering onto adjacent properties, and noise from the property disturbing the neighborhood.

The Planning Board found the application complete and scheduled a public hearing for April 4 if amendments to the site plan were received by March 16. Amendments will include clarification on lighting fixtures, emergency water sources and trash collection.

 

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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