TREMONT—Owners of the 11-site campground called Acadia Wilderness Lodge were granted a six-month extension on the project by members of the Planning Board earlier this month.
James and Kenya Hopkins have two projects before the town under the name Acadia Wilderness Lodge. One, approved in May 2019, is for an 11-site campground that was originally going to have cabins on posts and is now planned to be yurts on concrete pads. The second application, for a 154-site campground on a property that abuts the first site, is still being reviewed. Earlier this week, the second half of the public hearing for that project was postponed until June 22.
During the May 11 meeting at which engineer Greg Johnston requested a six-month extension on behalf of the Hopkinses, Planning Board member Geoff Young expressed concern with the change in structures.
A request for changing the cabins to yurts was brought to Code Enforcement Officer Jesse Dunbar last summer. The town’s ordinance allows the CEO to decide whether the changes need to go before the Planning Board.
“Apparently Jesse didn’t feel this was a significant enough change to bring it before us. Correct?” Planning Board Chairman Mark Good asked, to which Dunbar agreed.
“As much as you want to be voting on the yurts, you’re not,” said Johnston to Young. “You’re voting on whether these people, based on COVID, have been granted the ability for an extension. We’ve asked for an extension.”
Johnston cited problems with a concrete factory and limited supply of PVC due to the pandemic as reasons why the project had not advanced further. Six months from the request means the project would need to wrap up by November.
“We’re doing a six-month extension on a campground, which will put you after the 2021 season,” said Planning Board member Lawson Wulsin. “Not sure that matters at all.”
“In talking with Kenya earlier today, there’s an opportunity that they may be able to recoup some of these costs in August,” explained Johnston.
Wulsin then said, “You’re asking for a six-month extension but you might not need all six months.”
Young then wanted to know what the basis was for allowing an extension. Citing the Land Use Ordinance, Dunbar said, “to substantially start within 12 months and be substantially complete within 24 months.”
“Do we define substantially complete?” Young asked.
“Completed to the point where normal function and occupancy can occur without concern for the general health of the occupant and the general public,” Dunbar read.
“We are not substantially complete, that is why we are requesting the extension,” said Johnston.
The request was granted by a vote of 4-1, with Young as the single vote opposed.