Select Board denies request for campground moratorium extension

TREMONT — A request last week to extend a moratorium that halts campground development was shut down by the Select Board just days before the moratorium’s Jan. 29 expiration. 

The extension would have continued to pause campground applications for another six months while the Planning Board worked with the community to draft an interim set of campground standards for the town’s land use ordinance (LUO), explained members of the Concerned Tremont Residents (CTR), a group that supported the extension. 

The citizens’ group also drafted a broader variety of terms for campgrounds that includes different categories, such as those for large and small campgrounds, and suggested a maximum number of campsites and possibly increasing the square footage requirement for each campsite, as well as some RV regulations. The draft proposal was presented to the planning board but no action has been taken by the board.

While the moratorium has been in place, the Planning Board has made steps toward reworking standards for campgrounds. In addition to reviewing the existing campground definition in the LUO, the board is in the process of defining recreational lodge facilities.  

“We had to deal with other business during this period. We have made no motions. Nothing has been approved,” said Planning Board Chair Mark Good.  

“Our town should have the Planning Board making the decisions and coming up with new ideas,” said former Select Board member Mike Mansolilli. “The CTR should influence that, but the CTR is not a part of the planning process and they’re trying to make this as if they are.”  

Mansolilli said the town was not in danger of having an explosion of campgrounds between the moratorium’s expiration and the town meeting. 

All Select Board members agreed that the town did not need a moratorium extension to draft changes to an ordinance.  

“I feel like the Planning Board has had a lot of time to get their thoughts together and get some stuff written down on paper. Since August, the CTR had plenty of time to get their ideas down on paper and get something out there. Getting all this information in the last week of this moratorium getting ready to expire is not fair,” said Select Board member McKenzie Jewett. 

Select Board members voted last month to authorize the Planning Board’s request to research the hiring of a land use planner to help them go through the process of campground issues as it relates to zoning. 

“A planner would speed things up, but don’t forget that there are certain deadlines that have to be met… and that includes public hearings. I’m not sure what the time frame is, but I’m thinking that we basically have a month to do that,” Good said. 

According to Town Manager Jesse Dunbar, the Planning Board should have the proposed LUO changes signed and certified with the Select Board by March 7 to make the town meeting warrant. After that, a public hearing will be held ahead of town meeting.  

In the meantime, Select Board Chair Jamie Thurlow said the board does not mind hosting additional meetings for LUO changes to be brought before voters by the spring election. “I encourage the CTR to bring up any thoughts and ideas to the Planning Board. I’m sure they would love to hear any thoughts and ideas that could help expedite things,” Thurlow said. 

Though a public hearing date has yet to be determined, the next Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 8.

Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.
Ninah Rein

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