Select Board shuts down citizen petitions  

TREMONT — While the Select Board agreed to place the Planning Board’s newly proposed land use ordinance (LUO) amendments for campgrounds on the town meeting warrant, it denied a request to include two citizen petitions aimed at more campground reform. 

On Feb. 25, Town Clerk Katie Dandurand received two citizen petitions, circulated by Concerned Tremont Residents (CTR), that, if placed on the town meeting warrant, would contradict draft LUO changes the Select Board recently approved. 

Language in the first petition would give voters an option to enact an ordinance to protect the town of Tremont from “excessive campground development.” Compared to the approved recreational lodging facility (campground) LUO changes, which have a maximum density recommendation of one unit per 10,000 square feet, the petitioned LUO changes have a one unit per 20,000 square feet recommendation.  

In the current LUO, a private camping unit requires a minimum of 30,000 square feet. CTR member and petition organizer Cindy Lawson said the group thought 20,000 was a reasonable compromise between the current standard and the Planning Board’s recommendation.  

CTR’s petition also includes a maximum number of six occupants per campsite and recommends 20 camping units instead of the approved maximum number of 45.  

The group’s first LUO amendment petition also includes a change in minimum setbacks for structures used in recreational lodging facilities. CTR recommends setbacks should be 100 feet from property lines of abutting properties as opposed to the 75 feet passed by the Select Board. 

The second CTR petition recommends a warrant article which reads: “Any amendments to the Town of Tremont LUO and/or site plan review ordinance that are submitted to its voters at the 2022 annual town meeting and election or at a prior special town meeting called for their consideration shall, if approved by the voters, govern and apply to any applications and proceedings for Recreational Lodging Facilities that were, are or become pending before the Code Enforcement Officer or Planning Board on or at any time after the effective date of those amendments.” 

After comments by the public and comments by attorneys representing both parties, the Select Board ultimately declined to place either petition on the warrant at its March 7 meeting. Members of the board said it was unreasonable to have two conflicting articles, one from the town and one from CTR, on the ballot at the same town meeting.  

“We do really appreciate what the Planning Board has done,” said Lawson, who expressed that the community deserves to be heard. 

Select Board member Kevin Buck proposed a compromise of placing the Planning Board ordinance on the ballot for the May election to then vote on the petitioned ordinances after the town meeting. Though CTR members said that Buck’s proposition was reasonable, Select Board members McKenzie Jewett, Eric Eaton and Howdy Goodwin voted the idea down. 

“We thought that the state law was pretty clear on placing a petition article on the warrant,” Lawson said. 

As of press time, it remains unclear as to what the next steps are for CTR’s petitioned warrant articles.  

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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